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Opel reveals Cascada convertible

Wind rush: Opel’s new convertible will be launched in Europe in early 2013 and may come to Australia before the end of next year.

Local future on the cards for sleek new mid-size Opel Cascada four-seat convertible

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Opel logo18 Oct 2012

By DAVID HASSALL

OPEL has revealed its highly anticipated new Cascada four-seat convertible – along with technical details – and the new Australian arm of the GM company has indicated interest in adding it to the fledgling local line-up.

Having decided against revealing the soft-top convertible at the recent Paris motor show for fear it would steal the spotlight from the vital European-market Adam micro-car, Opel waited a respectable period before issuing the first official photos.

The German-based company said the Cascada would be launched in Europe in early 2013, making a second-half release the most likely timing for Australia.

The soft-top roof opens at the touch of a button or via the remote control key in 17 seconds, and at speeds of up to 50km/h.

Four months ago, Opel Australia founding managing director Bill Mott told GoAuto the company was interested in adding the car to its line-up.

“If it comes to fruition, we would look at raising our hand for it,” he said.

Larger and more upmarket than previous Astra convertibles, Opel claims the Cascada is a mid-size convertible “not only by its size but also by its allure and the premium technologies and features it offers”.

At 4697mm long and 1840mm wide, it is some 110mm longer and 57mm wider than the BMW 3 Series Convertible.

It rides on a 71mm-longer wheelbase than the old Astra Twin Top – the previous-generation Opel cabriolet that was sold by Holden in Australia until 2010 – and has a wider track (by 56mm at the front and 70mm at the rear), while being 43 per cent torsionally stiffer.

Opel said the Cascada’s passenger cell is mainly fabricated from high-strength steel for the least deformation and largest possible survival space in crash conditions while the doors have diagonally mounted ultra-high-strength steel beams and beltline reinforcements.

In the event of a rollover and other severe impacts when airbags are deployed, pyrotechnically activated spring-loaded bars automatically deploy behind the rear seats, and the occupants in the back as well as the front benefit from the fitment of seatbelt pre-tensioners.

Engine choices in Europe include a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol unit in two states of tune – one with 88kW of power and 220Nm of torque with an overboost function, and the other with 103kW and the same 220Nm – and a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel producing 121kW and 380Nm on overboost.

The smaller engines are available only with a six-speed manual gearbox but the diesel also comes with a new “low-friction” six-speed automatic.

However, the star performer will be fitted with a 1.6-litre direct-injection turbo-petrol Ecotec unit that is part of a “fully new generation” that debuts in early 2013.

With 125kW produced between 1650 and 3200rpm, and 280Nm on overboost, this model will be the performance flagship, fitted with either the manual or the new auto, which features a manual shifting function for a more sporty driving experience.

Opel, however, promises even more powerful versions of both petrol and diesel engines will be launched in the Cascada at a later stage.

The company claims the Cascada provides “a sharp driving experience thanks to its super-rigid body, HiPerStrut front suspension and FlexRide adaptive damping system”.

Opel exterior design director Malcolm Ward said that, while the open-top styling “reflects the classic and timeless elegance of a bygone and glamorous age”, its real strength is how it looks with the roof raised.

“Most convertibles look good with the top down, but many seem clumsy with their roof up,” he said.

“Thanks to its high-quality, aerodynamically clean soft top with a perfect, seamless profile, the Opel Cascada also cuts a fine figure when closed.

“With the top down for open-air drives, the Cascada has a perfectly clean profile: behind the fast and gracefully raked A-pillar, no roof top cover or visible rollover protection disturbs the silhouette.

“Below this clarity and to add some drama, the subtle Opel blade on the lower body side is mirrored in its upper part by a sharp crease that swings upward to the rear end, into the wraparound rear lights.

“The gently upswept waistline is highlighted by a horizontal chrome strip that elegantly sweeps around the cockpit, fluidly and elegantly marking the boundary between the roof top and the body.”

Other exterior details include LED daytime-running lights in the headlamps and the rear lights, incorporating an Opel-typical wing signature, and a chrome strip linking the lighting units set into the boot.

The interior features electric seat belt presenters that bring the belts within close reach, exclusive Nappa leather upholstery and ventilated seats (heating and cooling) that face a wing-shaped instrument panel.

The soft-top has acoustic and thermal insulation and comes in three colours to go with 10 exterior paint colours.

Cargo space is listed as 280 litres with the soft-top down and up to 350 litres with the roof raised, while 50:50 split rear seatbacks provide extra space.

The Opel Cascada rides on alloy wheels between 17 and 20 inches in diameter, which cover 326mm brake discs at the front and 325mm at the rear, and employs speed-sensitive electrically powered rack-and-pinion steering.

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