Vauxhall Cascada

The sleek new Vauxhall Cascada scores with its flowing lines, but does it deliver on the road?

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

The Cascada is no sports car, but it does have a supple ride and composed handling. The new engine performs well, too – it’s quiet around town, and offers smooth if not blistering performance. This car shows that Vauxhall is moving in the right direction to position itself as a premium alternative to its cheaper Chevrolet sister brand. The trouble is, at £28,605 it’s expensive.

The Astra TwinTop is no more. In its place is the Vauxhall Cascada, which slots between the Astra and Insignia in the range. It’s also bigger than an Audi A5 Cabriolet, yet costs up to £8,000 less.

Cascada is Spanish for waterfall, and that’s a theme the car’s designers have embraced with plenty of flowing lines that turned heads on our test route.

The swoopy design shares no body panels with the Astra, and at 4,696mm long and 1,839mm wide, the Cascada is obviously much longer and narrower than the hatch. The chrome trim on the grille and bumper is a little chintzy, though, and the car lacks the aggressive stance of the equivalent Audi. The creases in the sides add visual flare, and 18-inch alloys fill the arches well.

The rear is a little less successful, as there’s a big chrome bar running across the boot and into each tail-light, making the car look a bit brash, rather than sharp or understated like an A5 Cabriolet.

When opened, the boot takes the light units with it, revealing a 380-litre load bay. But you lose 100 litres of space to make room for the canvas roof when you drop the top.

The roof drops almost silently into the boot in 17 seconds, and at speeds of up to 30mph. It folds under a tonneau cover, which helps keep the car’s lines clean.

The interior is similar to the Astra’s, and features a dated centre console design stacked full of buttons that are hard to distinguish between. Plus, while the driving position is decent, visibility suffers at the front due to the thick A-pillars that are needed to strengthen the bodyshell.

Vauxhall’s new MGE 1.6-litre petrol engine debuts in the Cascada. The 168bhp version we tested will only be sold in the UK with an automatic gearbox, although the early-build car we drove was a manual.

A manual transmission will eventually be available in the UK, but that will have a 197bhp version of the new engine and won’t go on sale until next year.

The 1.6 is quiet and smooth, although its performance isn’t exactly blistering – a fact that’s probably down to the hefty 1,658kg kerbweight. Acceleration from 0-62mph takes 9.2 seconds; we expect the 197bhp manual will be much faster.

The car feels heavy when braking, too, but the brakes themselves feel strong and it handles surprisingly well. And while the steering is rather lifeless, it’s direct enough and all models get the HiPerStrut front suspension from the Insignia VXR.

With the roof down, the Cascada resists wind buffeting well, as long as you keep the windows up. The chassis is quite stiff, although you do feel some flex through the body and a tell-tale wobble of the rear view mirror over broken road surfaces.

Our Elite costs £28,605 – not too far off an A5 Cabriolet, which starts from £31,785. Perhaps one of the cheaper £23,995 1.4-litre turbocharged models would look like better value for money, but at this price the Cascada can’t quite compete.

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