Convertibles and Australia should go together like ham and pineapple on a pizza. It’s been tried by many. Many have failed. Holden has another go in 2015, with the Opel sourced Cascada 1.6L turbo four. A Wheel Thing runs the optics over it and likes some of what is seen.
To kick it off, there’s immediately a problem. It’s a mix of lack of torque in a heavy car and a smallish fuel tank. Think 260 Nm, a 56L tank and a 1750 kg car. A six speed auto works well enough, but the ratios just don’t seem to offer enough to take advantage of the torque and when instant fuel economy of 40L per 100 kilometres is seen under acceleration that isn’t hard….economy is quoted as 7.5L per 100 km on a combined cycle.From the pickup point to home is near as damnit to 75 kilometres. Using a quarter of a tank to do so, in 95% freeway driving says more about this car than anything. On handover there was a quarter tank left after around 430 km covered. It ended up looking better than it could have been but part of the return journey was at speeds of twenty to thirty klicks, on a freeway. It’s fair to say that around town the economy would be something to give thought to.Acceleration is leisurely, rather than a sprint. There’s never a feeling of all of those torques hooking up from the six speed auto and being put down, with full effectiveness, to the road, with the weight taming any pretensions of speed the Cascada might aspire to. The mass also dulls rapid changes of direction, even with a low centre of gravity, plus the brake pedal needs adjusting for travel, with it feeling like an inch before any bite on the pads could be felt.Moving to the interior, it’s a sweet place to sit, roof up or down. Except for the centre console. It’s busy, very busy and one that a driver needs to study for some time before driving. There’s a button for every separate airconditioning function, including dials for the two zones. It’s overdone, par excellence’. Another downside is the somewhat cheap and chintzy feel the gear selector has, with a hard edged plastic feel to the button being pressed to unlock the movement.Other than that, it’s standard GM/Opel/Holden in switchgear on the nicely sized steering wheel, a red-orange monochrome display ahead of the driver and a classy look to the dials and layout in the binnacles, with touches of chrome brightening the black plastics. There’s a seven inch screen in the upper centre console that looks just like the one found in a Commodore, except that it’s a non touchscreen setup but does come with the similar apps.The extendable cushion in the front seats is handy, the padding and leather look is beautiful to behold however lacks ventilation (cooling) being heating only. Oh, by the way, there’s a heating function for the tiller…Another nifty touch is the mechanisms that power forward and back the holder for the seatbelts; hop in, twist the ignition and they travel forward a few inches, allaying any need to reach further back for the belts.The selling point of the Cascada is the convertible section. It’s a sweet one, taking under forty seconds from fully up, to down and back again. It’s operated by a small chromed lever in the centre console; pull and hold and the mechanisms do their thing, swiftly, smoothly and quietly, at velocities up to 50 kmh. There’s a window switch mounted inside the roof latch, for the rear windows, however all four raise and lower along with the roof’s programming. Rear vision is an issue, with a small window incorporated into the tough triple layered fabric roof. Small also applies to the rear seat space should a driver choose to move the seats back.The exterior is sleek, svelte, with the rise of the guards sweeping up into the A pillars in an almost unbroken sinuous curve. In profile the black fabric roof looks not at all out of place, with a view from the rear displaying a bold elegance to the look and tail lights. Bootspace is, understandably, tight, with enough room for some overnight bags and houses a space saver spare. Rolling stock is stylish 18 inch alloys with Potenza 235/50 rubber.
Cascada sits on a 2695 mm wheelbase, with an overall length of 4696 mm, somehow managing to look smaller than that. It’s low, a trim 1443 mm whilst track, front and rear,is identical at 1587 mm. Holden quotes front headroom as 960 mm and rear as 917 mm. Cargo space is quoted as 280L with the roof folded, 380L up.
Roadwise, the Cascada is a mixed bag. Steering is well weighted, precise enough but there’s a sensation of the rack being a bit loose whilst driving, with a feeling of movement from the front end being transmitted through the system to the driver. The ride quality in the Cascada was smooth but at times floaty, with the suspension absorbing bumps well but not tying down the chassis over repeated rises and falls in the road. The exhaust note is flat, uninspiring, sounding like an unwell vacuum cleaner.Roof up, there’s more noise allowed in via the thin rear windows than the roof itself. For roof down driving, a wind blocker is found in the boot and is easily installed thanks to spring loaded locating rods. At speeds up to 120 kmh, sure there’s road and wind noise but noticeable for the lack of intrusive turbulence thanks to the car’s canny engineering and aerodynamics.
Cascada comes with a service interval of 9 months or 15000 kilometres and a new owner could be eligible for the Lifetime Capped Price Servicing. There’s also a year’s worth of Roadside Assistance included.
It’s A Wheel Thing’s opinion that the Cascada will have an audience but a limited appeal. The consumption, the busy console, the (understandable) inability to house rear seat passengers and the need to compromise on boot space plus the floaty ride quality conspire to lower the overall appeal the otherwise sweet looking Cascada can offer. Prices start from $42K which is another tick against it. For details on the Cascada range, click here: Holden Cascada range