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Convertibles

Finally, you can put the top down in a Buick

Buick shows up at the 2015 Detroit auto show with the Cascada, a dedicated four-seat convertible designed for performance.

DETROIT -- The world was not necessarily holding its breath for a convertible Buick, so the introduction of the Cascada comes as somewhat of a surprise. However, considering the stylish exterior and powerful drivetrain, the 2016 Buick Cascada's surprise factor is certainly welcome.

The Cascada name, shared with a German dance music group, is a new one for Buick, and it seems to herald a new era for GM's unsung premium brand. The relatively compact Cascada was designed from the ground up as a convertible, with the practicality of 2+2 seating. As with Buick's other models, the Cascada uses front-wheel-drive.

Although it suffers from the tubby look of any four-seater convertible, Buick mitigates that with strong side contours and large, standard 20-inch wheels. The rear deck behind the passenger compartment hides the convertible top, a multilayered fabric and acoustic material construction that folds down in just 17 seconds. The convertible top intrudes into the trunk, as Buick notes cargo space at 13.4 cubic feet with the top up, and 9.8 cubic feet with the top down.

The four-cylinder engine weighs in at 1.6 liters, but turbocharging and direct injection bring horsepower up to 200 and torque to 206 pound-feet. This amount of power should make for satisfying acceleration and decent fuel economy. Buick states that this drivetrain comes with a six-speed automatic transmission.

Following the suspension architecture of current Buick models such as the LaCrosse , the Cascada should offer a comfortable ride to fit its premium aspirations. Buick also calls attention to the Cascada's handling characteristics, suggesting that the HiPer strut front suspension and Watts Z-link rear suspension add significant stability during cornering.

2016 Buick Cascada
Buick gives open-top lovers a premium option in a relatively compact four-seater. Josh Miller/CNET

In the cabin, drivers benefit from Buick's IntelliLink infotainment system, which combines navigation, audio and Bluetooth hands-free phone support with app integration. Being a GM vehicle, the Cascada will also come with a 4G LTE connection for its OnStar telematics.

Buick won't announce pricing until closer to the Cascada's early-2016 on-sale date, but expect it to come in in the low 30s.

For most brands, convertibles don't serve as core models but introduce a little flair to the lineup. Such is the case with the Cascada and Buick. Not only will this car raise Buick's profile for car buyers, but it will also serve an audience desiring a comfortable open-top lacking many options.

Be sure to check out the rest of CNET's coverage of the 2015 Detroit auto show.

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