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Geneva show: Opel Cascada undercuts soft-top rivals

From the top down: Opel’s Cascada convertible will be offered with GM’s latest 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine among a range of four powerplants in Europe.

Value-for-money Opel Cascada set to breathe fresh air into Euro convertible market

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Opel logo17 Jan 2013

By RON HAMMERTON

OPEL’S all-new Cascada convertible will undercut the price of prestige drop-top rivals by about 25 per cent in Europe and the UK when it goes on sale there in April, indicating a guesstimate starting price of about $60,000 in Australia.

To be formally launched at this year’s Geneva motor show in March, the four-seat convertible boasts a soft-top that can be raised or lowered electrically on the move at up to 50km/h.

Opel Australia has put up its hand for the mid-sized car for its fledgling range here, but head of marketing and public relations Michelle Lang said it was too early to say when it could arrive or how much it would cost.

In the UK, Opel’s partner Vauxhall says Audi’s A5 Cabriolet is in Cascada’s sights, offering greater affordability and “outstanding” levels of equipment, technology and luxury.

The Cascada – meaning waterfall in Spanish – will be offered in two specification levels with a choice of four engines, including Opel’s latest 125kW/280Nm 1.6-litre direct-injected turbocharged petrol four-cylinder mated to either a six-speed manual gearbox or six-speed automatic transmission.

That engine is likely to be high on the wish-list for Australia, perhaps with a powerful bi-turbo 143kW/400Nm 2.0-litre diesel that is set to be rolled out in the European range after initial launch.

The most affordable Cascada in the Vauxhall range will be the 88kW 1.4-litre turbo petrol Cascada SE, priced at £23,995 – about £8000 cheaper than the most affordable Audi A5 Cabriolet in that market, the £31,215 2.0 TDI.

Assuming that Opel Australia adopts a similar pricing strategy here, the Cascada will be about 25 per cent cheaper than the A5 Cabrio that starts at $78,500 (plus on-road costs), meaning a potential price of about $60,000.

This would make it about $23,000 cheaper than BMW’s most affordable 3 Series Convertible, the $83,100 320d.

In size, the Cascada splits the difference between the Astra and Insignia at 4700mm long, making it one size larger than the Astra convertible once sold under Holden badges here.

The Cascada puts the power to the road through the front wheels, taming the torque steer with Opel’s HiPerStrut front suspension system used on high-performance Opels such as the Astra GTC OPC.

By adopting a compact folding fabric roof instead of a more bulky folding hard top, Opel can provide 380 litres of luggage space with the top up and 280 litres with it down.

The 50/50 split rear seats can be folded electrically to liberate more room.

The roof can be raised or lowered in 17 seconds, and can be upgraded to a premium version with extra insulation.

The suspension can be upgraded to an adaptive system called FlexRide.

In Europe, 10 exterior colours will be offered, along with a choice of 10 alloys wheel designs ranging in size from 17 inches to 20 inches.

If the Cascada makes it to Australia this year, it will not make its debut at the Australian International Motor Show in Melbourne in June – Opel Australia has ruled that out.

The company is getting set to launch its hot OPC models – Astra, Insignia and Corsa – over the next few months, with the Mokka compact SUV expected to follow up later in the year.

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