What’s Hot: Strong value for money, decent rear seat space, quiet on-road, well-equipped .
What’s Not: Sluggish automatic, fiddly infotainment interface.
X-FACTOR: A capable cruiser with a distinctly European flavour, the Cascada has plenty going for it.
Vehicle Style: Convertible
Price: $41,990 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 125kW/260Nm 1.6 turbo petrol 4cyl | 6sp automatic
Fuel Economy claimed: 7.5 l/100km | tested: 9.5 l/100km
Now wearing a Holden Lion on its front grille and bootlid, the Cascada is the first Holden four-seat convertible since the 2009 AH Astra TwinTop.
However, unlike the Astra, the Cascada comes with a promise of a premium experience - as well as genuine four-seat capability.
Holden freely admits the Cascada will be a niche model. It has empty-nesters in its sights, and, priced at $41,990, the Cascada is placed in the right spot to steal more than a few sales from the Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet, which starts at $43,990.
So, how does Holden’s new boulevard cruiser rate?
We headed for the hills in the Gold Coast hinterland for a brief first drive.
- Electric folding fabric roof, heated power outside mirrors heated front leather sports seats, alloy pedals, cruise control, dual-zone climate control, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, dusk-sensing headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, heated steering wheel
- Infotainment: Satellite navigation, AM/FM/DAB+/CD audio headunit, USB audio input, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, integrated Pandora, Stitcher and Tune In Radio apps
- Luggage capacity: 280 litres minimum, 380 litres maximum.
It’s a pretty sombre interior in the Cascada, with black leather and black surfaces offset by small splashes of silver trim and grey contrast stitching.
In terms of quality it’s above-par for a GM product, though. The upper dash is trimmed in soft leather, the door trims upholstered in hide and the build is generally solid.
The switchgear looks and feels old though, and the leather grain is very coarse. The latter problem is fixed with supple tan Nappa leather if you pony up an extra $3000 for the “Launch Edition”, but with only 50 being built you’ll need to get in quick.
The equipment list meanwhile is bountiful.The leather front seats and steering wheel are heated, sat-nav is standard and so is cruise control, dual-zone climate control, a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, rain-sensing wipers and dusk-sensing headlamps
The audio system also incorporates Bluetooth, DAB+, a USB audio input and internet connectivity via smartphone apps like Pandora and Stitcher.
However, this has to be one of the most frustrating iterations of Holden’s MyLink infotainment system.
There’s no touchscreen capability, which forces you to use a rotary dial/joystick to navigate menus and input commands. We’ve used rotary dials before, but this particular interface is clunky.
Want to enter a command? You can only do so by pushing the outside ring of the dial.
Need to look at the sat-nav but don’t want to listen to music? You’ll have to just turn the volume down - turning the audio system off also deactivates the navi.
As a convertible though, the Cascada does the trick. The fabric roof goes up and down in 17-odd seconds and can do so at speeds up to 50km/h. There’s very little wind buffet with the roof and windows dropped too, which is a plus.
Rear seat space isn’t too shabby either. Long doors and front seats that electrically roll forward make getting in and out easy, and knee and foot-room aren’t bad for a convertible of this size.
If you’re much taller than 5’10” you may find your scalp touching the headliner and knees contacting the seat in front, but overall these back seats are more habitable than you’d expect.
Boot space is limited though, especially when the roof is lowered. Roof down there’s only 280 litres of cargo space, versus 380 litres when the roof is up and the roof partition is retracted.
A 50/50 split rear seat allows long items to poke through the small passthrough, but the Cascada is not a natural pack mule.
ON THE ROAD
- 125kW/260Nm 1.6 litre turbo petrol inline four
- Six-speed automatic with manual mode, front-wheel drive
- MacPherson strut front, torsion beam rear suspension with Watts linkage.
- Disc brakes at front and rear
Don’t be fooled by the prominent 'Turbo' badge on the bootlid. With just 125kW of power and 260Nm of torque to pull 1.7 tonnes, the Cascada’s 1.6 litre turbo four isn’t all that muscular.
It’s also hobbled by a sluggish six-speed automatic. The Astra GTC automatic shares the Cascada’s 125kW 1.6 turbo engine, but its gearbox feels sharp and responsive, and rarely puts a foot wrong.
The Cascada’s ‘box meanwhile is slow to kick down and slow to respond to manually-actuated gearchanges. Compared to the Astra, this gearbox feels like it’s a generation behind.
It’s well-suited to sedate driving though. The engine might be small, but pottering about town is well within its capability. It takes a while to gather speed on highways, but it would be incorrect to label the Cascada 'slow' .
The chassis is reasonably flex-free too. There’s some scuttle-shake in evidence when driving over corrugated patches of tarmac, but it’s not as sloppy as some drop-tops.
Ride quality on the standard 18-inch wheels is quite good, and tyre noise isn’t noticeable unless on very coarse-chip surfaces.
Cornering performance isn’t the Cascada’s strong suit, but that’s to be expected for something that’s built for urban cruising.
Safe, predictable understeer is what you’ll find if you breach its limits.
ANCAP rating: The Cascada has yet to be assessed by ANCAP
Safety features: Stability control, traction control, ABS, brake assist, hill start assist, EBD, dual front airbags, front side airbags and a pop-up rollover bar are standard on the Cascada.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
A comfy convertible with space for four, the Cascada is unspectacular but hits the mark as a cruising drop-top.
Well-equipped, easy to drive, relatively roomy and - roof up or down - nicely styled, the Cascada is a fine alternative to the more expensive Golf Cabrio and the ageing Megane CC.
It doesn’t have a sporty bone in its body, but it doesn’t need to.
Certainly well-equipped, the rest of the package is more than up-to-snuff for buyers looking for features and style, and besides that irritating infotainment system the Cascada is a pleasing drop-top option.
PRICING (excludes on-road costs)
- Cascada, automatic $41,990
- Cascada Launch Edition, automatic $44,990