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Motoring review: Vauxhall Cascada SE 1.4 Turbo

A name to forget, but it's great for the six days of summer
  • @Jamie_Merrill

Price: £23,995
Engine capacity: 1.4-litre turbo diesel
Power Output (PS @ rpm): 140 @ 6000
Top Speed (mph): 129
0-60 mph (seconds): 10.2
Fuel economy (mpg): 44.8
CO2 emissions (g/km): 148

This is Cassandra. Sorry, let me start again, this is the Cascada and it's the new convertible from Vauxhall. The idea is that the Cassandra, sorry Cascada, will tempt lots of Audi drivers out of their A5 cabriolets and VW drivers out of their EOS convertibles this summer.

We Brits love convertibles you see, and despite our unreliable weather and the fact the roof can only come down half-a-dozen days a year, we are – by some figures – the second biggest buyers of soft tops in Europe. And it's not just Jaguars and Porsches either, even sensible car makers like Ford, Volkswagen and Vauxhall like to take their tops off these days.

First though, we must deal with the elephant on the outside lane of the motorway. What on earth is it with this particular convertible's terrible name? As far as I can tell, someone in Vauxhall's marketing department has taken leave of their senses. This is probably the same person that recently allowed the release of a Vauxhall called Adam. Yes, Adam. And don't even get me started on Mokka, the firm's latest idiotically named crossover.

Vauxhall's nomenclature department is clearly run by a card, undoubtedly the same card who came up with this car's "summer is state of mind" slogan during what must have been a mind-numbingly dull meeting.

Anyway, enough of this nonsense, what's the car like? Vauxhall says it is an entirely new car – the body and new petrol engine certainly are – but much is borrowed from the Astra and Insignia. That's no bad thing though; Vauxhall has got the knack of making pretty things of late, thanks to British designer Mark Adams. Sadly General Motors (Vauxhall's parent company) has snaffled him to head up design for Cadillac and Buick in the States.

Inside the Cascada, everything is solid rather than stylish and there are far too many buttons – in other words, usual Vauxhall. In the basic SE trim I tested it all feels rather pedestrian too – no match for its rivals at Audi and VW but at least the soft-top roof works smoothly, there's room enough in the back for two reasonably sized adults (not just children) and there's a decent enough boot. Just don't plan on carrying many 6ft-plus passengers – they'll get buffeted if the roof's down. Visibility could be better too, with a tiny rear window and a prominent A-pillar blocking part of the view forward.

Not that any of this matters. Convertibles are all about how they look (the Cascada looks good) and how they drive. Thankfully for Vauxhall, the Cascada is a pleasant thing to run around in on a warm summer's evening.

True, it's no sports car and the smaller diesel unit I tested lacked grunt, but it tackles pothole well and wafts along nicely. Find a wide boulevard of sun-drenched B-road and it is (as with most convertibles and enough imagination) easy to imagine you are in St Tropez. And that's exactly why most buyers will spend £20k-plus for the privilege of being blown around six days of the year, even if it does have a silly name.