Vauxhall Cascada review

Our Rating: 
2013 model
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

The Vauxhall Cascada convertible offers lots of space and comfort, but it comes at a price

Composed handling, supple ride, spacious interior
Expensive to buy, high CO2 emissions, awkward styling with roof up

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The Vauxhall Cascada was introduced the 2013 Geneva Motor Show, when it replaced the Astra TwinTop. This new model uses Astra and Insignia bits, but while the old car had a complex folding metal hard-top, the Cascada gets a traditional fabric roof.

There are two trim options, SE and Elite, and engines range from the 1.4 petrol turbo to the powerful 2.0 CDTi BiTurbo. The 2.0-litre diesel will be familiar to owners of the Astra and Insignia.

Higher powered petrol and diesel engines will join the range at a later date. The Cascada is no sports car, but all versions do come with the HiPerStrut front suspension from the Insignia VXR for surprisingly good handling. better still, a supple ride makes the Vauxhall a composed and comfortable long distance cruiser.

Vauxhall is attempting to distance itself from its successful, value-for-money sister brand, Chevrolet, by moving upmarket. And so, following the launch of the Adam ‘premium’ city car, comes the Cascada - a high-spec, full-size convertible that slots into the range between the Astra and Insignia.

Our choice: Cascada 1.4 SE

Engines, performance and drive


Vauxhall has fitted HiPerStrut front suspension from the Astra VXR hot hatch, but the Audi A3 Cabriolet is more enjoyable to drive. The Cascada’s soft suspension soaks up bumps reasonably well, yet there’s plenty of body roll in corners and the steering lacks feedback, so there’s not much fun to be had.


Our car was fitted with the £790 optional FlexRide two-stage adaptive dampers. Sport and Tour modes firm up or soften off the damping, but it just feels harsher in Sport mode, while the car wallows over bumps in the Tour setting.

With the roof down, the Cascada is pretty refined. There’s next to no wind buffeting, so you can easily forego fitting the standard wind deflector, while a second, smaller windbreak slots between the back seats to help reduce buffeting for rear passengers.

The new 1.6-litre petrol engine is smooth and refined, while the diesel is punchy and promises decent economy. However, fr most people the 138bhp 1.4-litre petrol will be the best bet, as it suits the Cascada's relaxed character. A potent BiTurbo diesel, which can cover the 0-60mph sprint in 8.9 seconds and hit a top speed of 143mph, and a high-powered 197bhp 1.6-petrol, are available too.

MPG, CO2 and running costs


The entry-level 1.4-litre petrol does struggle a bit with the car’s weight, which will have an impact on fuel bills and make the claimed 44.8mpg hard to match. The all-new 1.6-litre petrol delivers more performance, but is only available with an automatic gearbox, which means an above average thirst for fuel and disappointingly high CO2 emissions.

A 2.0-litre diesel - which offers similar power to the 1.6 petrol but with more torque - returns up to 54.3mpg and emits 138g/km of CO2, although it’s quite a noisy engine. Making matters worse are poor predicted residuals for the Vauxhall, with our experts predicting that even the best performing versions will struggle to hold onto 40 percent of their new value after three years.

As well as a standard wind deflector and heated leather seats, you get a heated leather wheel, cruise control and rear parking sensor. Extras include an acoustic hood (£300), although you can’t specify xenon lights or blind spot monitors individually – you have to add expensive option packs instead.

Interior, design and technology


The Cascada ditches the hi-tech folding hard-top in favour of a fabric roof, while its overall look is more upmarket than the Astra TwinTop’s. The car has been designed from scratch in an attempt to mark it out as a separate model, but there are plenty of styling elements that directly link it with the Astra.

Its rounded front end and eagle-eye headlamps look similar, even down to the ‘eyebrow’ daytime running lights, and although the sculpted sides are different, they appear quite similar to the Astra’s.

The large, steeply raked windscreen and rising window line give the Cascada a tail-heavy appearance, while the large bootlid and rounded tail bear more than a passing resemblance to those of the Insignia hatch. The fabric roof creates a low roofline, although the steeply raked back window means a letterbox view through the rear view mirror.

Lower the hood and you get frameless windows and a flat rear deck. Inside, less effort has been made to set the Cascada apart from the Astra. The sweeping dash design is different, but the confusing array of buttons and chrome-ringed dials is carried over wholesale, but the quality of the plastics isn’t up to the standard of rivals.

In an effort to move the car upmarket, it has a stitched leather dash top and standard hide trim.

Practicality, comfort and boot space


The Cascada is a full-size convertible, which means that it features space for four people and their luggage. Space in the front is good, although visibility is a little hampered by the chunky A-pillar.

In the rear, there’s just about space for two adults for short trips, although knee room is a little tight, and headroom suffers with the roof up.


The tailgate badge doubles as the boot release, and the clamshell rear opens to reveal a 380-litre luggage area. This is bigger than the Audi’s, but the high load lip and narrow opening make it trickier to use. The split back seats fold at the press of two buttons in the boot. You must lower a partition before stowing the roof, and this reduces the available space by a significant 100 litres.

Lowering the roof takes 17 seconds and can be completed at speeds of up to 30mph. The interior is also stuffed full of useful cubby holes, including the deep door bins and a large centre console bin that will easily swallow mobile phones and personal music devices.

Reliability and Safety


Vauxhall claims that although the Cascada is larger than the previous Astra TwinTop, it’s 43 per cent stiffer, which is good for both handling dynamics and robustness in the event of a crash. Every Cascada comes with a host of airbags and ESP, and all have reinforced windscreens and pyrotechnic roll-bars that spring up from behind the rear seats in the event of a crash.

Options include Vauxhall’s Front Camera system, which includes traffic sign recognition, lane departure warning and forward collision alert, as well as blind spot alert. Much of the technology and engines are already in-use across the Vauxhall range, and the new 1.6-litre petrol engine will be fitted to other cars, so expect similar reliability to the Astra and Insignia.

Even so, Vauxhall finished a disappointing 26th out of 32 in our 2013 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, with only three of its cars making it into the overall top 100. 

Disqus - noscript

What's wrong with you, guys? Opel Cascada is amazing vehicle. You have a big problem in perception.

This is the kind of review that has 'predetermined opinion' written all the way through it. Try the Motoring section of The Telegraph for a more balanced and informed piece on this car.

Quite a good honest review I thought and pretty typical of Vauxhall/Opel products they will never be as good as Audi and fit in below VW and Ford in my opinion.

Despite its Eurodance star name, it s seems to be a good car. To answer to the other people on this thread, it seems that the world press and not only autoexpress is suffering from the Audi and VW lack of critical sens. Anywhere you go, German cars are better not including Opel. Any journalist find logical to pay 300 000£ for the driver's seat option, poor manual gear box and the money back for the marketing bureau. I m starting to get paranoid and wonder if there is no hidden money spent to get these review better and better....

Like Casacada used to sung " I need a miracle "....

with the british weather (2 week summer)what is the value in buying a cabrio vehicle for the handful of days you can use the topless option ...posers car springs to mind..but you pays yur money you take yur choice

You say it's too expensive but don't quote the price - Brilliant!?

The problem is Rob; the more we buy VW's, BMW et al, then the more they invest in advertising with AutoExpress and the like. It's a viscious circle of money vs. morals and the money wins every time (due, in no small part, to the fact that journalists are easily bought and are bred without morals).
The only way to get even a midicum of sense out of immoralistic journalism, is to stop buying the magazine. I stopped a while ago, preffering to view online mags (a little better) or, as you said, The Telegraph which seems to have no apparent aspersions and therefore gives a much more honest review.

If this was the exact same car with a Renault,Peugeot or VW badge, it would score 4.5 to 5 stars.
I wonder why?

C'mon, vauxhall, do a VXR. You know you want to.

I quite agree, a very nice car to look at, very comfortable and refined, has a slick roof action, and handles pretty well with a usable boot and space for 4 adults. For me thats all you could want in a convertible.
For the comparison with Audi A5 IMHO the Cascada is better to drive than the base model A5, is more refined and also more exciting to look at. So for the sake of forgoing a few highend plastic buttons you really are getting a better car for less money.
On the subject of the Cascada dash, it's actually really nice to sit inside; love the stiched leather over the steering wheel controls, all custom parts and really good seats, the only thing which appears to be carried over from the Astra is the media unit which everybody comments on and the steering wheel. The media unit is actually pretty good functionally (navi 600+) and the buttons are there out of convenience rather than necessity - the custer of buttons certainly do not put me off and provide good shortcuts instead of scrolling through menu options.

With Vauxhall you are alway going to pay a compromise with competitively priced solutions, but it's nice then that the Cascada straddles the line between genuine desirablity/capbability and cost in this case better than any other car manufacture out there currently for this class of car.

Summer is a state of mind (from Vauxhall)! Seriously I get it, I love driving at night during the winter, but that's just me...

Checkout the Autocar comparison between the Cascada and Audi A5. The Audi nudges it on it's badge, but the Cascada proves to have the better handling...

Saw one of these on the road for the first time this evening. However I have yet to see an Adam.

Last updated: 8 Apr, 2014