17 Oct 2012

Vauxhall Cascada - specs and photos

The Vauxhall Cascada is a beautiful looking, full size, four seater convertible that Vauxhall claims will offer premium quality at an affordable price.

These are the first photos of the new Vauxhall Cascada, an open top that General Motors hopes will help revive it's flagging fortunes.

The Cascada is a mid-range, 4 seater convertible aimed squarely at Audi's A5 and BMW's 3 series.  Along with the ADAM, Mokka and Ampera a lot is riding on the success of this car.

Mark Adams, who also designed the ADAM, seems to have done a wonderful thing by designing a large Vauxhall that actually looks pretty.  The disastrous Insignia looks like it was designed by committee whereas the Cascada looks like it was designed by a human being - which it was.

The Cascada has four full size seats and a fabric folding roof, which has a polyester fleece between the inner and outer linings.  The hood opens in 17 seconds and can be opened or closed at up to 30mph.  Mercedes' SLK, on the other hand, can only open it's hood at a standstill.

It also comes with GM's new 1.6 litre turbocharged engine, producing 170bhp and 280Nm of torque.  Vauxhall claim the body of the car is 43 percent stiffer than their last open top, the Astra Twin Top.

We love the Cascada's design.  The bodywork and general silhouette looks good with the hood up or down and the front is a revelation - in Vauxhall terms.  In fact it's the best looking Vauxhall front end for a long, long time.  The headlights, the sculptured body-coloured plastic, the spotlights, the deep and wide lower grille all integrate well to create a purposeful, handsome face.

In fact the only let-down is the Vauxhall badge - once a noble symbol but now tainted by the awful Insignia and the latest Astra. Surely, if the badge was removed and replaced with that of a Saab or Alfa the car would be laden with praise.

But it isn't.  It's a Vauxhall and maybe this car and the ADAM can create a new air of joie de vivre around the fusty, staid brand that it so desperately needs.

We can't see a massive amount of the interior from the photos but on the surface it looks good.  Quality materials and design - decent looking binnacles and buttons abound.  Vauxhall, masters of interior tricks and touches to increase space and practicality, claim 280 litres of bootspace when the roof's down and 350 when it's up - and the inclusion of their FlexFold system that electrically folds the 50:50 rear seats.

Vauxhall claim the handling and dynamics will be outstanding due to a stiff chassis and use of HiPerStrut front suspension as standard - which separates damping and steering thereby reducing torque steer.

On to engines.  The aforementioned 1.6 litre turbocharged unit is the first production engine from Vauxhall's MGE (Mid-Sized Gasoline Engine) family which offers major improvements in torque and efficiency.  170bhp and 280Nm from a 1.6 is quite outstanding.

Other engines include a 1.4 litre petrol turbo with 140bhp and the 2.0 litre turbo diesel with 165bhp.  More powerful engines will be available later.

Prices will be available soon with first deliveries taking place in March 2013.

In summary we think the Cascada looks great.  Hopefully the design will start a revolution in Vauxhall - who desperately need to sell more cars - and they're not going to do that if they keep bringing us bland rep-mobiles and hatchbacks that only police forces will buy.

Vauxhall needs a halo car.  They would be well advised to stick a 300bhp V6 engine in the Cascada and give it four wheel drive.  There is no point trying to compete with Audi and BMW if you only offer a car comparable with the lower echelons of their range.