You can’t deny that the Vauxhall Cascada is a bit of a looker. Yes, it has the underpinnings of a Vauxhall Astra, but everything you can actually see is sleek and attractive. In fact, it looks more closely related to the Astra GTC than the 5-door model.
The front end looks very similar to that of the sleek looking Astra GTC coupé, with a few extra aerodynamic touches in the lower grille, and an upper grille that features plenty of chrome edging for the slats. The heavily sculpted bonnet leads back to a steeply sloping windscreen supported by two thick, curving pillars, which are part of the car’s rollover protection.
The long, long doors feature prominent curving creases that lead into the bulging rear wings. The back end of the car is perhaps slightly longer than you might expect as it has to accommodate the boot and the storage area for the fabric roof when it’s folded down.
What's it like to drive?
There are 4 engines available in the Vauxhall Cascada, comprising of 1.4 and 1.6-litre petrol and a 2.0-litre diesel with two power outputs.
The 1.4 petrol and lower-powered diesel are definitely the way to go. The petrol revs sweetly and gives the car a decent turn of pace, while the diesel actually suits the car’s character better because it’s strong and smooth, and is the more relaxed (and therefore relaxing) performer.
Don’t confuse ‘relaxed’ with ‘slow’, because the Cascada certainly isn’t. It’s perfectly brisk enough off the line and more than capable on the motorway. The optional automatic gearbox that many original owners chose to fit is worth looking out for, too, because it makes the Cascada even more relaxing to drive.
The suspension is soft enough to smother away bumps, while the optional FlexRide suspension makes the Sport firmer and Tour softer while the standard set-up hits a great middle ground. When it comes to steering, this is just about right for relaxed driving being neither too light nor too heavy.
A drop-top is all about having the roof down, and here the Cascada is superb, with almost no buffeting, and no need for you to erect the standard wind deflector.
The 1.4 petrol and lower-powered diesel are definitely the way to go. The petrol revs sweetly and gives the car a decent turn of pace.
This is where the Cascada’s common-or-garden Astra origins become more obvious - the interior is pretty much identical to that of the Astra GTC, which in turn is almost identical to that of the Astra hatchback.
Don’t go thinking this is altogether a bad thing, though. The Astra’s interior is undoubtedly a classy-looking, well-made and useable space. It’s just that buyers in this class of car might expect just a little bit extra.
Still, what is there is good. Ahead is a conventional instrument binnacle that houses four chrome-ringed dials and an LCD information display. The knob for the headlights can be found down to the right of a steering wheel. This doesn’t look particularly exciting but is at least largely free from the usual visual cacophony of small buttons.
The centre of the dashboard has a small touchscreen at its top, and below that is a somewhat confusing array of buttons you use to control the audio and sat-nav systems, as well as a few of the car’s on-board set-ups. Further down are the pleasingly conventional controls for the cabin temperature and ventilation.
Just a head of the gearlever is a small cubby that also contains a power socket and USB and Aux-in connections, while just behind the gearlever are two small switches, one of which operates the handbrake and the other raises and lowers the roof in a matter of 17 seconds at up to 30mph.
The quality of the interior feels very good indeed, so everything works smoothly and precisely and shows no signs of fragility. All models feature air-conditioning, alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, a DAB radio, Bluetooth and cruise control. Moving up the range adds automatic lights and wipers, leather trim and dual-zone climate control and automatic lights and wipers.
You might think the Cascada would be hopeless when it comes to practicality - you’d be wrong. For a start, it has absolutely loads of legroom for those up front, and roof-up headroom is acceptable. Obviously, headroom is stratospherically good with the roof down.
There’s enough space in the rear seats for a couple of adults to be quite happy with the ride for a while at least, and behind everyone is a boot that’s easily big enough for a week’s shopping or a few weekend bags.
The boot opening is a little small, which makes getting stuff in and out a bit trickier. Still, you can always fold down the rear seats and use that area as extra luggage space for larger or more awkward items (as long as you put the roof down first, of course).
Reliability and running costs
The Vauxhall Cascada shouldn’t cost a whole lot to run, given its comparatively humble underpinnings. The 1.4-litre petrol engine will do an official average of 43.5mpg, while the 2.0-litre diesel will do 57.6mpg. Not bad.
The Cascada has never been tested by crash test body Euro NCAP, but it’s based on the sturdy Astra and also features extra strong windscreen pillars and rollover bars that pop up from behind the rear seats in the event of a crash.
Insurance groupings kick off in group 20 and top out at group 27. Reliability should be strong, given that the oily bits have all seen service in other Vauxhalls. Nevertheless, a warranty always brings extra peace of mind, so we would recommend you consider cinchCare.
What cinch loves
The Vauxhall Cascada does pretty much exactly what it sets out to do, which is to take you and 3 passengers wherever you want to go in relaxed splendour. Better still, it will look elegant and expensive every time you clap eyes on it. It manages all this while actually being reasonably practical as it can take plenty of bags and boxes, and it does everything while imbibing lightly at the pumps. The fabric roof insulates well and is much lighter than a folding metal hardtop, and can be raised and lowered at up to 30mph, so there’s no need to stop when you want to worship the sun. Brilliant.