Motoring review: Vauxhall Cascada 2.0 CDTi

Can Vauxhall reach beyond its salesman heartland?

Price: from £25,775
Engine: 1,956cc, four cylinders, 16 valves, turbodiesel, 165bhp
Transmission: Six-speed gearbox, front-wheel drive
Performance: 135mph, 0-60 in 9.6 seconds, 54.3mpg, CO2 138g/km

The new Cascada convertible arrived in time for our fitful summer, propelled by a tentative push to make Vauxhall credibly "premium" without abandoning its workaday sales-rep heartland (which would be quite the impressive trick if pulled off). Since then, I have seen not a single example on our roads.

That could well be because buyers of an upmarket convertible can't square such a car with the notion of a Vauxhall badge. Their friends would sneer. Their self-esteem would be in ruins. Prejudice and snobbery stand in the way of much that is good, however. So let me tell you about the Cascada.

It's a dramatic- looking convertible, with a windscreen raked back so far that it looks almost a continuation of the bonnet. So far forward is its base pulled that there are separate side quarter-windows ahead of the doors, as found in many MPVs but a first for a convertible. Unlike the Astra Twin Top with its solid, folding roof, which the Cascada sort-of replaces, the new car has a soft-top roof which is lighter, less bulky, easier to stow (just 17 powered seconds) and looks a lot neater. And when folded, it sits flush with the rear bodywork, all mechanical entrails hidden.

And that "sort-of" part? The Cascada is broadly based on the underpinnings of the current, rather hefty, Astra, but it's big enough to be a credible rival for a car size above. That means it competes (if you can just forget that badge business for a moment) with an Audi A5. Stay with me here; the Cascada's hood is a beautiful piece of design and engineering apart from its claustrophobic letterbox rear window, and the cabin is luxurious, with its contrasting stitching and lush trim. It's true that the dashboard looks too familiar to Astra and Insignia drivers, but it's pleasant enough.

Top "Elite" models even get what Mercedes-Benz used to call a "belt butler", an automatically extending arm which presents you with the seatbelt ready to slip over your shoulder. For a little extra outlay you can even have an extra layer of soft-top interleaving, making an already quiet, multilayered hood a claimed 38 per cent quieter. No real need; wind rush is impressively low as standard.

This air of refinement is helped by a structure far stiffer than the old open-top Astra's, and the Cascada really does have the gait and demeanour of a quality machine.

But, despite all-turbocharged engines, the Cascada is not a rapid car mainly because it's a heavy one, thanks to a lot of underside reinforcement. The new 1.6-litre unit's 170 horses seem particularly puny, not helped by this engine's compulsory automatic transmission. I didn't try the entry-level turbo 1.4 nor the range-topping, 195bhp twin-turbo diesel. But I did sample the regular 2.0-litre turbodiesel, with 165bhp and enough pulling ability to disguise the heft. In this form the Cascada comes into its own as a brisk but relaxed tourer, with a comfortable ride and an ability to nip round corners rather tidily.

This is a very likeable convertible, if an ambitiously expensive one for its badge by the time you've plundered the options list. Without doubt it deserves parity with the default-choice premium German brands. But would you dare to go against fashion in this high-fashion sector? Good on you, if you do.

Life and Style
Fans line up at the AVNs, straining to capture a photo of their favourite star
life Tim Walker asks how much longer it can flesh out an existence
Life and Style
Every minute of every day, Twitter is awash with anger as we seek to let these organisations know precisely what we think of them
techWhen it comes to vitriol, no one on attracts our ire more than big businesses offering bad service
News
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
News
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
television
Arts and Entertainment
art
Sport
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
football
Life and Style
Kate Moss will make a cameo appearance in David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress
fashion
News
The image released by the Salvation Army, using 'The Dress'
news
Sport
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure
football Defender could make history in the FA Cup, but African Cup of Nations win means he's already content
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Consultant - London - £65,000 OTE.

    £65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...

    Recruitment Genius: Physiotherapist / Sports Therapist

    £20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Advisor

    £8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...

    Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

    £14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
    Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

    Lost without a trace

    But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
    Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

    Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

    Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
    International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
    Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

    Confessions of a planespotter

    With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
    Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

    Russia's gulag museum

    Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
    The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

    The big fresh food con

    Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
    Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

    Virginia Ironside was my landlady

    Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
    Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

    Paris Fashion Week 2015

    The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
    8 best workout DVDs

    8 best workout DVDs

    If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
    Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

    Paul Scholes column

    I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
    Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
    Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

    Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

    The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable