Vauxhall's Cascada: Enough to turn you from Audi?Vauxhall hopes its new mid-size convertible will coax customers away from Audi. It's good, but is it good enough...?
-This convertible has a rear windscreen that's flushed with the roof. It has LED lights that are visible from any angle, not just the back. It has bold styling, it has plenty of high-end technology. Its roof will retract in 17 seconds at up to 31 miles an hour. It's a Vauxhall, and can be had for less than 25 grand. -Vauxhall calls this the Cascada. And they fervently hope that you'll notice all of that. They also hope that you'll rethink that Audi order. -The Cascada, silly name aside, is a rather handsome beast. Its designers took time to make sure that not only does it look good with the hood down, but also with it raised because, well, that's where they'll be for most of its life. They also made that roof strong, so you can take it through a proper carwash. Not only does it look good, but it won't be a pain to clean. -Similarly, the engineers knew that in order to make the Cascada a decent proposition, it had to be fun to drive, practical and quiet. Now, to that end, they've done a pretty good job. You get, with the roof up, a nearly 400-liter boot-- that's quite a lot. Then, with the roof down, you can have a pretty decent conversation up to 80 miles an hour. Again, that's very impressive. But also, the Cascada gets some pretty neat trick suspension. -It's called HiPerStrut. And it was developed for the Insignia VXR, a really serious big hit. It essentially dumbs down torque steer, makes front-wheel drive Vauxhalls glide through corners. It's frankly brilliant. -So, that's practicality space and handling covered, but it's got some pretty cool engines, as well. It's gonna get a brand spanking new 200 brake horsepower, 1.6-liter turbocharged Petrol-- which is very nice. It's also gonna get 2-liter BiTurbo diesel, which is gonna be rapid and quite efficient. But the one we've got here is the base 1.4-liter turbocharged petrol. It's got around 140 brake horsepower. And you know what? It's quick, it's quiet, and it's pretty refined. -Its interior is typically Vauxhall, which means you get sways of buttons everywhere. I do wonder whether the interior feels special enough, though. -The Cascada is not a sports car, by any means. It's a car to waft in or be seen in-- much like its German rivals. And speaking of its rivals, they're a bit tricky. You see, the Cascada is bigger than the Audi A5 Cabriolet. It's also a lot cheaper. It's priced similarly to the BMW 1 Series and Audi A3 Cabriolets, which means-- if you pardon the old adage-- you do get quite a lot of car for not much cash. -But has Vauxhall made a car that has a presence to make you think twice about having a German on your drive? -Every part of me wants to say "yes." Every part of Vauxhall wants me to say "yes." But I do wonder whether an emphasis on premium, feel, and tech, and the low price point is enough to coax people away. And also, Vauxhall has a little bit of a problem in that-- what is this question? "Would you rather have any drive than Vauxhall or an Audi?" I thought so.