So, what is it?
The Cascada is an elaborately transformed, de-roofed version of the Holden Astra, powered by the same 1.6-litre turbo four as the GTC hatch.
Available as a six-speed auto only, its signature inclusion is a triple layer, electrically-controlled convertible soft-top.
Why should I care?
Holden is positioning Cascada as a relatively small volume ‘halo’ car for the brand, claiming it offers the size and quality of other European four seat convertibles costing double the dollars.
What’s new about it?
Launched in Europe as an Opel in 2013, the Cascada “was planned, designed and developed from the outset as a pure convertible”, so it’s a purebred, engineered to deliver comfort and refinement with roof up or down.
The headlights might look Astra-familiar, but the rest of the body, particularly from the A-pillars back, is unique to the convertible.
That’s all fine, what’s it like to drive fast?
Sadly, the only engine available is the marginally de-tuned (125kW/260Nm) version of the 1.6-litre four, matched to a less than snappy ‘Active Select’ six-speed auto. Combine that with an extra 259kg of kerb weight (compared to the GTC) and you’re looking at more show than go.
Even a brutal mashing of the accelerator pedal brings a relatively lethargic and harsh response (0-100km/h claim is 10sec), the car crying out for the extra grunt of the Astra VXR’s 2.0-litre turbo.
But once decent highway momentum is achieved ride quality is good, with only a hint of body shudder over serious bumps and potholes (with roof up or down), and overall refinement is excellent. The ‘standard’ Cascada rides on 18-inch alloys, but a limited (50 units) ‘Launch Edition’ picks up 20s.
Although steering feel is good, the car’s extra weight makes its presence felt in cornering, with a gentile, ‘six tenths’ approach to highway kilometres proving the most comfortable and enjoyable.
And driving home from the city?
This is the Cascada’s more natural habitat. With cushy perforated ‘leather appointed’ seats, and seven-speaker premium audio, even with the top down (it raises or lowers in 17 seconds, at speeds of up to 50km/h) and side glass up, the interior is a pleasant place to be.
The distinct lack of open road urge is less of an issue in the urban jungle, the car moving smoothly and quietly through the stop light grand prix.
There’s genuine space for four, although rear legroom is tight. And cargo space is decent, with 280-litres available roof down, and 380-litres when it’s up.
Anything bad about it?
The soft-top’s (glass, heated) rear window is small, the centre console is all buttons, and the multi-function trip computer is a telling sign of this fourth-gen Astra’s age. Using old-school orange/red LED graphics, it’s hard to read, and looks out of place next to the 7-inch centre-dash screen running the MyLink infotainment system (including digital radio).
The A-pillars are also monstrous; despite inclusion of small windows near the base, they compromise forward vision, particularly to the right. And on the small annoying niggles register, although it wears a thin veneer of padding, the door armrest is as hard as granite.
How much would I have to pay? And is it worth it?
For $41,990 the Cascada includes heaps of standard equipment including, Hill Start Assist, 18-inch alloys (with 17-inch space saver spare), leather appointed heated front sports seats, sat-nav, cruise control, rear view camera, dual-zone climate-control air, front and rear park assist, rain sensing wipers, heated leather steering wheel, and the ‘MyLink’ Infotainment system with 7-inch colour display.
For an extra three grand, the 50 Launch Edition cars also pick up 20-inch alloys, nappa leather appointed and ventilated sports front seats, a leather sports steering wheel, and Adaptive Forward Lighting with bi-xenon headlights and LED daytime running lights. Get 'em while they're hot.
Would you take the Holden Cascada or VW Golf Cabriolet?
Line-ball on bucks, but we’re leaning towards the Holden for is size, looks (let’s face it, that’s what the majority of people buying it will be most concerned with anyway) and lengthy equipment list.
Click here to find out more about the Holden Cascada.