Vauxhall today released full pictures of its Cascada full-size convertible that will launch the company into a fourth new sector this year, following on from its Ampera, Mokka and ADAM models.

The Cascada is a full four-seat, fabric-roof convertible which at nearly 4.7 metres in length is longer than an Audi A5 Convertible and positions Vauxhall in a sector that it hasn’t occupied since the 1930s.

Cascada’s design team, headed by Brit Mark Adams, has created a car with classic lines, redolent of the Grandes Routieres (luxury touring cars) of a bygone age, matched with a capacious cabin and high-quality materials.

An all-new 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine, producing 170PS and 280Nm of torque, and marking the first outing of Vauxhall’s MGE (Mid-Size Gasoline Engine) family, will be the highlight of a four-engine range.

Crucially for weather-hardened UK buyers, there will be a high-quality fabric hood, with superior acoustic and thermal insulation thanks to a special layer of polyester fleece between the outer and inner linings. Making the Cascada a practical year-round car, the hood can be opened in just 17 seconds at speeds up to 30mph by an interior switch, or via a button on the key fob.

Cascada’s dynamic credentials will be highlighted by an immensely rigid body, which is torsionally 43 per cent stiffer than Vauxhall’s last open-topped car, the Astra Twin Top. It will also use the much-praised HiPerStrut front suspension which was initially used on the 325PS Insignia VXR.

‘Cascada is set to change people’s perception of Vauxhall once again,’ said Duncan Aldred, Vauxhall’s Chairman and Managing Director. ‘The full-size convertible sector tends only to be occupied by very high-priced cars from premium manufacturers. With Cascada, we’re offering customers high levels of equipment, technology and luxury but at an affordable price.’

Exterior Design

At 4697mm long and 1840mm wide (excluding mirrors), Cascada has a broad stance and elegant lines. With the top down, it has a perfectly clean profile with no roof-top cover or visible roll-over protection disturbing the car’s silhouette aft of the steeply-raked A-pillar.

The subtle ‘blade’ on the Cascada’s lower body side is mirrored by a sharp crease that swings upward and meets with the wraparound rear light cluster. A gently rising waistline is highlighted by a chrome strip that borders the cockpit, marking the boundary between roof-top and body.

‘Most convertibles look good with the top down, but many seem clumsy with their roof up,’ said Malcom Ward, Vauxhall’s British Director of Exterior Design. ‘Thanks to its high quality, aerodynamically clean soft top with a perfect, seamless profile, the Cascada cuts a fine figure when it’s closed.’

Sculpted with a purposeful power bulge, Cascada’s bonnet tops a deep front grille with bold chrome applications. The fog lights are carried in two overturned ‘sharkfin’ elements, which are enhanced by chrome inserts. Using LED technology, the daytime running lights in the headlamps and the rear lights incorporate Vauxhall’s ‘wing’ signature. In the rear, the LED modules are diffused to give a solid and sharp light signal – typical of cars in the premium sector. A chrome strip linking the boot-mounted light units matches a similar bar across the front of the car.

The Cascada’s fabric roof can be specified in one of three colours, which can be coordinated with one of ten body colours.

Interior

The Cascada’s cabin mixes the well-equipped functionality of an Insignia’s interior with handcrafted modules not found in any other Vauxhall.

Wrapped in a soft-touch material with high-quality stitching, the instrument cluster tops a wing-shaped panel which flows into the doors and frames the area around each front occupant. All-new, deeply contoured seats are available in a range of embossed fabrics and leathers, and customers have the option of ergonomic, Nappa-leather trimmed seats, which can be heated or ventilated. An Easy Entry system allows access to the rear seats, and electric seat belt presenters make securing front occupants less of a chore.

With a minimum load volume of 280 litres with the roof down, and up to 350 litres roof up, the Cascada is an exceptionally practical convertible. In addition, the rear seats benefit from Vauxhall’s FlexFold system, which electrically releases and folds down the 50:50 split rear seats, allowing longer objects to be carried with ease.

In the cabin, several large storage spaces are available: one in each door and one under the instrument panel, and thanks to the use of a standard Electronic Park Brake across the range, a further cubby is located between the front seats.

Chassis and dynamics

Maximising torsional stiffness in a convertible’s body is critical to maintaining a high standard of vehicle dynamics. Despite being significantly larger, the Cascada’s body is 43 per cent stiffer torsionally and 10 per cent more resistant to bending forces than the Astra TwinTop, Vauxhall’s last open-topped car. Impressive underbody reinforcement comprises crossed steel bars and strengthened rocker panels, which also contribute towards a significant reduction in NVH (Noise Vibration Harshness).

Distinguishing the full-size Cascada from the compact-class Astra TwinTop is a wheelbase which is 71mm longer and front/rear tracks which are 56mm and 70mm wider respectively, benefiting handling and stability.

Vauxhall’s HiPerStrut front suspension, first used in the 325PS Insignia VXR, will also be standard across the Cascada range. The system separates damping and steering functions, reducing torque steer, while also improving steering feel and cornering control. In addition to this, the Cascada’s electric power steering module is mounted direct to the rack for greater feel and precision.

Also available across the Cascada range is FlexRide, Vauxhall’s fully adaptive chassis control system, which automatically adapts to suit driving style and prevailing road conditions, or can be over-ridden with one of three driver-controlled modes.

The Cascada can be equipped with a range of wheels, from 18- to 20-inch in diameter, mated to brake disc sizes up to 326mm (front) and 325mm (rear).

Powertrains

A broad range of powertrains will be available from launch for the Cascada.

At entry level, a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine produces 140PS, and up to 220Nm thanks to an overboost function.

Vauxhall’s efficient and powerful 2.0 CDTi (165PS) diesel engine, which can also be found in Insignia and Zafira Sports Tourer models, is available with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission, producing up to 380Nm of torque on overboost.

But the highlight of Cascada’s engine line-up will be the all-new 1.6 SIDI Turbo ECOTEC petrol engine. The first production engine from Vauxhall’s MGE (Mid-Size Gasoline Engine) family, the unit offers major improvements in torque, linearity and overall efficiency. It produces a maximum 170PS from 1650-3200rpm and 280Nm of torque, again thanks to an overboost function. Initially this engine will only be available with a new, low-friction automatic six-speed gearbox.

More powerful versions of both petrol and diesel engines will be launched in the Cascada in due course.

Technology

The Cascada brings together all Vauxhall’s latest, innovative technology as part of the UK offer. This includes options like: AFL+ (Adaptive Forward Lighting) with up to 11 automatic lighting functions; Front Camera System, including Traffic Sign Recognition, Lane Departure Warning, Following Distance Indication and Forward Collision Alert; rear-view camera; heated steering wheel; Hill Start Assist; Side Blind Spot Alert.

Using an extremely rigid passenger cell made mainly from high-strength steel, the Cascada is designed for the least deformation and largest possible survival space in the event of a crash. Its doors have diagonally-mounted ultra-high strength steel beams and beltline reinforcements. The A-pillars supporting the windscreen are made from press-hardened steel. And in the event of a roll-over incident, pyrotechnically activated, spring-loaded high strength bars automatically deploy behind the rear seats. These pop-ups are also triggered during other severe impacts, eg. when airbags are deployed. Front seats both benefit from two-way active headrests and double seat belt pre-tensioners; even the two rear seats benefit from seat belt pre-tensioners.

Sales

Cascada pricing will be announced in line with order banks opening at the start of next year. First UK deliveries will be from March 2013.

As with all Vauxhalls, first Cascada owners will benefit from Lifetime Warranty, lasting the life of the car or up to 100,000 miles, whichever comes first.