2013 Vauxhall Cascada review
* Four-seat convertible driven in the UK * Two trims and four engines available * On sale now, priced from 23,995...
The Vauxhall Cascada is a new four-seat convertible that's designed to compete with the likes of the VW Golf Cabriolet.
The drop-top has a fabric roof, rather than a folding metal hard-top, and is the first car to get Vauxhall's all-new 168bhp 1.6 turbo petrol engine, which is available only in the UK with an automatic gearbox.
There's also a 138bhp 1.4 turbo petrol, a 163bhp 2.0-litre diesel and a 192bhp 2.0 twin-turbo diesel. The entry-level petrol and range-topping diesel are available only with a manual 'box, while the 163bhp diesel can be had with an auto if required.
What's the 2013 Vauxhall Cascada like to drive?
The all-new 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine is quiet and willing to rev hard without becoming harsh, although our test car on the European launch was fitted with a manual gearbox, which isn't an option here.
Even in manual guise and with a healthy 168bhp, the engine feels somewhat overburdened by the Cascada's 1.7-tonne bulk and never qualifies as quick or responsive.
The weight of the car is more of a problem in the 1.4. You'll be working the notchy gearbox seriously hard to achieve any decent pace, although if you don't mind sedate progress the smaller engine moves the Cascada along in a quiet and calm fashion.
We'll test the 192bhp diesel later this year, but our favourite engine so far is the 163bhp diesel. You forgive the gruff engine note in return for the muscular mid-range surge, which gives the Cascada impressive real-world acceleration.
Most of the models we've driven were fitted with optional adaptive suspension (790) and rode comfortably especially in the softest Tour setting. Even with standard suspension, the Cascada soaks up small imperfections with little fuss, although larger bumps and ruts can send jolts through the cabin.
That said, the body is fairly rigid by open-top standards, so flexing is kept to a minimum and the Cascada feels more settled and pliant than most big convertibles.
Handling is unexceptional but secure. There's lots of grip, not too much body roll and the steering is weighty, although it does have a rubbery, over-aggressive self-centring action. The Cascada is also stable at speed and easy to drive smoothly; few will expect or want more.
Wind noise is particularly well suppressed with the roof up, although general traffic- and road noise does intrude.
A more heavily insulated roof is available as a 300 option and is worth adding if you really value your peace and quiet. Regardless of material, the roof folds down in just 17 seconds and can be operated at speeds of up to 30mph.
What's the 2013 Vauxhall Cascada like inside?
There's loads of room and adjustment for drivers of all sizes and the Cascada will seat four adults with ease, provided those in the rear aren't six-footers. Taller passengers will find their head and knees pressed against encroaching cabin parts.
Access to the two individual rear seats is as easy as it will ever be in a convertible, thanks to long doors and front seats that fold and slide with a single lever pull they return to their original position just as easily.
The boot is usefully big, too. There's 380 litres of space with the roof up (280 with it down) and the rear seats fold to allow longer items to be carried. It's even possible to squeeze in bulky items such as Golf clubs, although the narrow boot opening makes this rather difficult.
Every Cascada gets a leather-trimmed dashboard with contrasting stitching, which combines with piano black or metal highlights to make the cabin feel very classy. However, some of the materials aren't quite as sturdy as they look, and can rattle over patchier road surfaces.
The switchgear is typically Vauxhall, with a button-heavy array on the centre console and a rotary controller to navigate around the various infotainment functions.
Visibility isn't great even by soft-top standards. The steeply raked windscreen pillars create large blind spots at junctions, while over-the-shoulder visibility is limited by the high, letterbox-shaped rear screen.
There are two trims SE and Elite. SE models feature 18-inch alloys, air-con, a DAB radio, a USB socket, rear parking sensors and cruise control. You also get four airbags and active rollover bars, which pop up to protect occupants if the car rolls.
Range-topping Elite trim adds climate control, automatic lights and wipers, heated leather seats, a wind deflector, a heated steering wheel and a colour display for the infotainment system. Disappointingly, though, Bluetooth costs an extra 220.
Should I buy one?
The Cascada comes well equipped, but costs a bit more than an equivalent VW Golf Cabriolet, which might be smaller, but requires very little compromise in interior space or practicality. The VW is also sharper to drive, more economical and has a broader selection of engines.
However, if rear passenger space is a priority then the Cascada has the upper hand and you'll almost certainly get a hefty discount from your local Vauxhall dealer, helping to offset that high price.
If the added space and the sleek looks appeal, then the Cascada is unlikely to disappoint.
What Car? says...
Engine size 1.4-litre turbo petrol
Price from 23,995
Torque 148lb ft
0-60mph 10.2 seconds
Top speed 129mph
Fuel economy 44.8mpg
Engine size 1.6-litre turbo petrol
Price from 26,505
Torque 207lb ft
0-60mph 9.2 seconds
Top speed 135mph
Fuel economy 39.2mpg
Engine size 2.0-litre diesel
Price from 25,495
Torque 258lb ft
0-60mph 9.6 seconds
Top speed 135mph
Fuel economy 54.3mpg
Engine size 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel
Price from 29,080
Torque 295lb ft
0-60mph 8.9 seconds
Top speed 143mph
Fuel economy 54.3mpg
By Vicky Parrott and Ed Callow