Britain’s love affair with the open-top car has prompted an explosion of coupe cabriolet choice over the past decade.
But outside the expensive premium car sector, all new models in recent years have featured a hard folding top. This has left convertible car fans short of genuine choice.
The Cascada is the first offering from a ‘street brand’ of a family car canvas roof convertible since the Vauxhall Cavalier Mk2 in 1985…. So, has Vauxhall shaken-up the convertible market with its new Cascada ‘rag top’?
Well, Vauxhall reckons it might have done because it says the Cascada is a potential alternative to the likes of Audi and VW soft tops. But is it really?
Well, the car is refined, lovely and supple to drive, efficient and in some angles, quite sexy. The Cascada is pretty practical too. You get four adult-sized seats and a reasonable boot of up to 350 litres.
While you can tell the Cascada is a long, heavy car that’s had its roof chopped off, it nonetheless makes a pretty decent fist of things on the handling front.
The steering is heavier than you might expect and it certainly isn’t overflowing with feedback, but it feels true at speed – when you eventually get there.
And that’s the rub. You see, this particular 1.6-litre petrol 197bhp model doesn’t deliver the ‘hot’ performance you might imagine. On paper, 0-60 in 8.5 seconds and a top speed of 146mph look rapid – but it just doesn’t feel it in the Vauxhall.
This is largely down to the Cascada’s bulk. It’s around 350kg heavier than the excellent Audi A3 Cabriolet. And In 138bhp 1.4 petrol guise, the A3 is actually £400 cheaper. It’s not quite as spacious, but its cabin is in a different league.
Things feel particularly lethargic at low revs, so if you put your foot down in a hurry, you’re left waiting for the speed to build. Quick progress through the gears is blighted by an obstinate manual gearbox, too.
The Cascada comes stacked with kit and rides comfortably, but it actually costs a bit more than an equivalent VW Golf Cabriolet. The VW might be smaller, but requires very little compromise in interior space or practicality. The Golf is also sharper to drive.
So, if passenger space is your main concern, then you can make a case for the Cascada. In most other areas, though, there are far better rivals for you to throw your cash at.
Vauxhall Cascada 1.6i Turbo (200PS) Elite
Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cylinder turbo petrol
Gearbox: 6-speed manual
Power/Torque: 197bhp; 206lb/ft
Economy/Emissions: 42.2mpg; 158g/km
0-60mph: 8.5 secs
Top speed: 146mph