Pleasant enough to drive, and quite refined
Comfortable seating position, but poor view out and too many buttons
Everything you could expect
Cabin feels solid enough, but Vauxhall has only a so-so record
Comfortable cabin for all but very tall rear passengers, but boot opening is restrictive
Plenty of kit even in lower-level car, but Bluetooth has to be specified from options list
The Cascada is generally pretty good to drive: it feels very stable and the steering has a reassuringly solid feel to it, while overall it feels smooth and comfortable even on UK roads, though an optional 'Flexride' suspension system makes the ride even smoother. The only engines available at present are two fairly quiet petrols - a manual-only but perfectly adequate 1.4-litre, and an automatic 1.6 - plus a rather clattery 163bhp 2.0 diesel. The 1.4 petrol is our pick; it's not particularly fast but it offers the best balance of performance and price. A more powerful diesel will join the range later. Wind and tyre noise are well suppressed in the Cascada, even with the standard soft-top, but there's also a reasonably priced heavily insulated roof available.
All models get a leather-trimmed dashboard with contrasting metallic highlights, so overall the cabin looks pretty plush, although it doesn't feel quite as good quality as premium cars'. The centre console includes a main dial for navigating around the main control areas, but there are also lots of other buttons and dials, so the dash feels rather fussy. Forward visibility is awkward, as it's often hampered by the steeply raked windscreen pillars, while the rear screen is very small.
It's easy for the driver to get comfortable in the Cascada as there's plenty of adjustment for the seat and steering wheel. The rear seats are fine for those under six-feet, but taller passengers will feel quite cramped. The boot is quite a good size with the roof up, but loses over a quarter of its space when the roof folds away into it, and the boot opening is frustratingly narrow. On the plus side, you can fold the rear seat backs forward to increase the load space.
There are just two trim levels. SE includes air-con, DAB radio, 18-inch alloys, rear parking sensors and cruise control, while Elite brings climate control, automatic lights and wipers, heated leather seats, a colour infotaintment screen and a windbreak to reduce wind buffeting when the roof is down. Neither includes Bluetooth, which is available only a pricey option. There are Isofix fittings on the two rear seats.
The Cascada is too new to have featured in the latest JD Power customer satisfaction survey, but Vauxhall was rated below average in the 2012 study. As for safety provision, the Cascada comes with stability control, overhead supports that automatically pop up to protect occupants should the car ever roll over with the roof down, and brake lights that flash to warn drivers behind of very hard braking. However, as with most convertibles, there are no airbags for rear occupants. The car has yet to be crash tested by Euro NCAP.
The Cascda is fairly well priced, given the amount of equipment provided even with the standard SE model, but a Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet cabriolet is cheaper, better to use, has a wider range of engines and will hold on to more of its value. However, the Vauxhall does come with a 100,000-mile warranty for the first owner.