Buick brings the goods again from overseas, but this one will have a tougher time.
– Cleveland, Ohio
The Encore subcompact crossover has become Buick’s best-selling vehicle of late, and it’s based on an almost identical vehicle sold in Europe as the Opel Mokka. It makes sense that Buick would call the same play when it decided it needed a convertible in the lineup. The Cascada also comes from Europe where the identical, original version is called the Opel Cascada (and there’s a Holden Cascada in Australia and a Vauxhall Cascada in the UK). Buick hopes the Cascada will strike a chord with the American public just like the Encore has, but it’s a lot harder for us to get behind because there are so many good convertibles to buy these days, many less expensive than this one.
- The Cascada handles well for what it is, a droptop version of the European economy car on which it’s based. The steering is light but accurate and the suspension is compliant with just a little bit of sharpness. It’s more darty like a Mini than sporty like a Mustang.
- Convertibles really have one job they need to do well, which is retracting and opening their removable roofs quickly and easily. The Cascada excels here. There’s a small chrome switch in the center console that you pull back to retract the roof, then the whole top of the rear section tilts backwards to accept the folding, insulated top, glass window and all. The whole dance is done in 17 seconds and can be executed at speeds up to 31 miles per hour (hence the second set of tailights that are visible when the rear section tilts back, or when you open the trunk).
- For as small as the Cascada looks, there’s actually decent legroom in the second row. Let me qualify that: there was plenty of legroom for me in the second row when the driver’s seat was adjusted forward enough for my own five-foot, ten-inch frame. Your rear legroom will vary, and I’m guessing no one would fit behind our Dutch giant Executive Editor, Seyth Miersma, who’s six-foot, five-inches tall.
- The Cascada is powered by a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that’s not shared with anything else that Buick, or General Motors for that matter, sells in the US. It produces 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque and is paired with a six-speed automatic. Why’d it earn a spot on the con list? Because it’s a raspy, wheezy little engine. Cascada means “waterfall” in Spanish, but Cicada fits better when you’re motoring along with the top down in this car.
- As mentioned, the Buick Cascada is a direct port from Europe where it’s sold as the Opel Cascada. The only thing that makes it a Buick is the badge on the grille. Does that matter to most people who don’t know the incestual ties between automakers around the globe? Probably not; they just see a pretty droptop. Journalists like us and enthusiasts like you, however, see a badge-engineered convertible in the seat where a Buick Avista Convertible should be. We can dream.
- This car’s main competition, as stated by Buick itself, is the Audi A3 Cabriolet. While the car looks good from the curb, the Cascada’s interior can’t defend itself in a fight with an Audi. For one, every surface your fingers touch feels higher quality in the Audi, and where the A3 goes for ergonomic simplicity, the Cascada bombards you with buttons. Regardless of whether or not I’d rather be seen in the Cascada, I rather be in the A3.
|2016 BUICK CASCADA|
|ENGINE||Turbocharged 1.6L I4|
|OUTPUT||200 Horsepower / 207 Pound-Feet|
|0-60 MPH||7.0 Seconds (est.)|
|TOP SPEED||130 MPH (est.)|
|EPA FUEL ECONOMY||20 City / 27 Highway / 23 Combined|
|CARGO CAPACITY||13.4 Cubic Feet (top up) / 9.8 (top down)|
Photos: John Neff / Motor1.com