Vauxhall's Cascada: Enough to turn you from Audi?
When you think of a luxury convertible you think of solid German engineering, a smooth engine, space, sunsets and maybe a seaside. For some that means a BMW, others Audi or Mercedes. I'm not entirely sure it conjures an image of a Vauxhall. Or an Opel, if you're reading this on the continent.
However, the Cascada is Vauxhall's bullet with "GERMANS" written on it. Its design has been poured over to make sure it cuts a 'premium' figure. There's some cool details in there -- the rear lights are a highlight, as is its front, really. It looks a bit like a mouse. A big, five seat convertible need not look as though it'll peel your eyelids off, but it should have a look that'll do you proud at the local marina's car park. The Cascada has that, I think.
Its interior is very Vauxhall -- lots of plastic and lots of buttons. It is, somewhat unsurprisingly, also very comfortable. We drove down the Route Napoleon and had a thoroughly good time in it. No cases of numb bum here.
Speaking of having fun on the Route Napoleon... it does handle rather wonderfully. I'm a big fan of Vauxhall's HiPerStrut front suspension, it adds an extra edge to the handling of a car that many other purveyors of front-wheel-drive cars simply can't match. If you lean on it a touch you can feel the front slice through a corner and get you, drama free, to the other side. Though I prefer its application in the Astra VXR, if I'm honest, as it seems to suit a mental hot hatch a little better than a sedate cruiser.
Engine-wise the Cascada is well served, though the base engine we had in our test car was perky enough, I'd prefer something with more power because, well, that's simply the kind of person I am.
In all, the Cascada is a good car. It's big, it drives well, and it's not all that expensive to buy.
And that's where I should end, but I can't. Vauxhall, when the car was launched, was very keen to say that it's the kind of car that could take sales from the Audi A5 -- it IS bigger, it IS cheaper, etc. -- and that's a fine thing to aim for. But, and it's a big one, would you have a Vauxhall Cascada now or would you save a bit more money and buy an Audi? Thought so.*
*I'm fully expecting the president of the Vauxhall/Opel fan club to call me and tell me that he owns a small fleet of them.