The Holden Cascada brings a new name and a bold new look to the Dancing Lion lineup.
We got into the Cascada for a spin to take the top off of Holden’s new convertible.
Convertibles are a good-time car, so it makes sense that Holden’s last convertible was retired at the onset of the Global Financial Crisis when the Holden Astra twin-top left the lineup.
But now Australia’s own brand brings a cloth-top back to the showroom floor, so we wanted to find out whether the good times are ready to roll again.
Convertibles, much like sports cars, are designed to create an impression. Thankfully, the General Motors design team have found the right amount of European flair to put into the outside design while the local arm at Holden can focus on tweaking the drivetrain.
The roof material looks durable, and inside the cabin is well-put together with leather accents. Meanwhile, you sit fairly low to the ground, but not so low that you feel like all the other cars on the road could drive over you – you feel more ‘in touch’ with your driving experience by sitting in the Cascada, even before you set off.
Getting out onto the streets in the Cascada, you’ll notice how smooth the power is delivered from the turbocharged engine under the hood. That power never becomes overwhelming, and is nicely suited to the six-speed auto (which is the only option.) Getting up to speed is easily done, and the engine is willing to stay at and above 100km/h with no harsh revs.
The ride is nicely tuned to soak up bumps and corners through the 18” alloys, while avoiding the loss of stability that comes when you chop the roof off a car. Importantly, you’re never interrupted when you’re on a trip in the Cascada, which should be the yardstick with which you judge any pleasure cruiser.
Handling is pretty slick from the imported drop-top; there is no body roll on corners, and at speed, you can manoeuvre the Cascada pretty nimbly. The auto keeps pace nicely, and there’s never any hesitation in selecting a gear, when you’re speeding up or slowing down.
Driving with the roof in place is nice, and particularly quiet, considering there’s only a few centimetres of fabric in between your head and the open sky. But the Cascada would be pretty pointless with the roof up all the time, and Holden’s new convertible is even better when the roof is let down. The fundamental driving line of the vehicle doesn’t change remarkably once the top is lifted, so it really is the best way to travel in the Cascada.
The Cascada is fine for what it is, a pleasure cruiser that will put a smile on the driver and passengers face. It will never be the pick for a multi-purpose people mover, with only three seats besides the driver and a fairly small boot that gets eaten into by the roof.
However, if you’re looking for something to get away on the weekends with – the Cascada is right up your street. The back seat is okay for smaller adults, and it’s certainly helped when the roof is down, but it is a little cumbersome to get two people into the back and comfortable without some compromises. Up front, the story is much better with ample leg and shoulder room for both driver and passenger. As you can take the roof off, headroom is generally a non-issue – but with the top up, even people taller than 6ft can find a seating position that works for their proportions.
Speaking of the roof, to go topless (or to pop it back on) will take 17 seconds in the Cascada – which is above average for a convertible, and ensures that you won’t be soaked if it starts to rain suddenly. You can operate the roof at speeds up to 50km/h, which means you can show up as the most chic car on the school run.
The interior is well considered with nice touches like heated front seats and steering wheel so you can keep the top down on chilly mornings, while the audio and climate controls in the centre console are ripped straight from it’s Astra sibling. The Cascada features dual-zone climate control and Holden MyLink audio system to provide passengers with comfort and entertainment.
As with the Astra, one criticism of the climate controls could be their proximity together – a more spaced out control panel would help drivers reaching to change the station without taking their eyes of the road. The steering wheel controls help a great deal towards this, but for drivers who may be getting into a car with a setup like the Cascada for the first time it may be a little intimidating.
Visibility out of the rear window is pretty limited, so the reversing camera is appreciated, but with the top down, there is – as you would expect – great visibility. The view out of the front is fine, the windscreen slopes at a pretty smooth angle with no thick, intrusive A-pillars to stop you from glancing out.
On the safety front, the Cascada features front and side impact airbags as well as pop-up rollover protection bars to make up for the lack of a hard roof. Front seatbelt pre-tensioners will help to anchor the driver and passenger in the front in a crash. The Cascada hasn’t yet been tested by ANCAP.
Fuel usage is good, with official figures at 7.5L/100km. This will be a little ambitious driven in its natural habitat in the urban jungle, but is pretty accurate on long stretches of highway where the Cascada will likely venture on weekends. The Cascada will only drink premium fuel, it prefers 98RON but will use 95RON if that’s all that’s available.
The Cascada comes in one specification with a 1.6L turbocharged engine and six-speed auto transmission priced from $46,006 drive away. Prestige paint is a $550 option, as on our test vehicle in Phantom Grey.
A Launch Edition was also available briefly, and limited to 50 units – and differentiated with 20” alloys, premium nappa leather sports seats and bi-xenon headlights. By and large, these models have already found homes – but are worth keeping an eye out for on the used car market or if dealers still have them as demonstrators.
Holden’s Lifetime Capped Price Servicing covers the Cascada for $229 for the first four scheduled services, rising to $289 for the next three, then $584 for your first major service at 120,000km – which should be your eighth scheduled service, with the Cascada’s service intervals every 9 months/15,000km.
The Cascada succeeds as a vehicle purely for having fun. It’s one of the only cars on the market at the moment that can make you more stylish just for having it. Combined with an engaging drive, its strengths lie in making the driver and their passenger feel luxurious in a for less than $50,000.
Motorama has two conveniently located Holden dealerships, with dedicated HSV specialists in each, in Springwood and Moorooka. Test drive the Cascada today and find out why Holden’s convertible will bring style to your life.
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