Full of sur­prises Paul Acres

De­liv­ers his ver­dict on Vaux­hall’s cabri­o­let, the Cas­cada

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Motors -

Vaux­hall’s Cas­cada is a sur­pris­ingly rare sight on our roads. It’s a sur­prise be­cause it is ac­tu­ally rather good. It will ac­com­mo­date four adults – though knee room in the rear would make longer jour­neys slightly less ap­peal­ing – and a size­able por­tion of their lug­gage too, thanks its de­cent 380-litre boot.

There are just two trim lev­els, SE and Elite, and you do get a gen­er­ous amount of equip­ment, with air con, 18in al­loy wheels, DAB tuner, Blue­tooth hands­free call­ing and au­dio stream­ing, cruise con­trol, and rear park­ing sen­sors. My Elite trim test car adds dual-zone air con, part leather heated elec­tri­cally ad­justable sports seats, wind­break and au­to­matic light and wipers so it’s just a pity, then, that you have to sit in what is a largely unin­spir­ing, though well put to­gether and spa­cious, cabin.

Stan­dard on both mod­els is Vaux­hall’s On­Star, which gives driv­ers ac­cess to call centre ser­vices and acts act as a wifi hotspot for up to seven peo­ple.

There a con­fus­ing ar­ray of but­tons on the centre con­sole – quite pos­si­bly 42 of them but don’t quote me be­cause while I started out de­ter­mined once I’d got be­yond 20 my en­thu­si­asm to see the count through waned sig­nif­i­cantly and, con­se­quently, I may have made a (tiny) er­ror – that can be fid­dly to op­er­ate.

At the front the Cas­cada rides on the McPher­son HiPer­Strut un­der­pin­nings bor­rowed from the VXR mod­els and Watt’s Link sus­pen­sion at the rear.

The Cas­cada is set up for com­fort and re­fine­ment, not poise and guile, while the gear­ing is, lit­er­ally, geared to­wards econ­omy, rather than per­for­mance.

It’s quite a large, heavy car and it shows when you try to in­ject a lit­tle pace into pro­ceed­ings and things start to get a lit­tle ragged very quickly.

Driven as Vaux­hall clearly in­tended, how­ever, and the Cas­cada of­fers up an amenable, un­com­pli­cated ride. Its goal is to get you from A to B with the min­i­mum of fuss and the max­i­mum of style. It does that with aplomb.

The 2.0-litre CDTI unit pow­er­ing my test car pro­duces 170PS and it, along with the six speed man­ual gear­box that sends power to the front wheels com­ple­ment per­fectly the Cas­cada’s per­son­al­ity.

The diesel unit, though no­tice­ably vo­cal when pressed, es­pe­cially with the roof down, is hushed at cruis­ing speeds.

Gen­er­ous torque – 400Nm of it avail­able from 1,750rpm – means that it never strug­gles to cope with the Cas­cada’s bulk.

The Cas­cada is a com­pe­tent and com­fort­able ma­chine that, while it isn’t go­ing to set the world on fire, is cer­tainly wor­thy of a rather large dol­lop of re­spect.

That there aren’t more if them on our roads – roads dom­i­nated by con­vert­ibles built by man­u­fac­tur­ers re­sid­ing in a coun­try a few hun­dred miles east of here – can’t be blamed on Vaux­hall’s in­abil­ity to pro­duce a wor­thy com­peti­tor be­cause they have, and it is.

Com­pared to its ri­vals, you get a lot of car for your money.

If you’re in the mar­ket for a cabri­o­let any time soon, the Cas­cada is worth a sec­ond look.

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