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Driven: Holden Cascada opens for business

Gone soft: The last Holden drop-top was the 2005 Tigra which used a rigid roof, but the Cascada uses a triple-layer fabric version for a traditional convertible look.

Drop-top Holden motoring finally returns following Opel Cascada false start

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Holden logo28 Apr 2015

By DANIEL GARDNER

GENERAL Motors Holden’s first convertible for ten years has finally touched down on Australian dirt with the new Cascada getting its top off today, priced from $41,990, before on-road costs.

The Cascada was scheduled to make its Down Under debut early last year wearing Opel badges, but a sudden exit of the brand in mid-2013 postponed the arrival of a GM convertible until now.

The simultaneous arrival of Cascada and Astra marks an important milestone for the Holden brand and the start of “24 major vehicle launches” over the next five years, with many of those originating from Europe.

To build the four-seater drop-top, Holden took a can opener to the European-sourced and simultaneously-launched Astra GTC, with which it shares many of its underpinnings including a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine.

Unlike the Astra though, the new model will be available with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic only (Astra is available as both manual and auto) and its defining feature – a fully electric folding fabric convertible roof.

The triple-layer “acoustic” cloth roof offers advanced protection for occupants from noise and the elements says Holden, and retracts in 17 seconds while traveling at speeds of up to 50km/h.

Customers wanting an extra level of exclusivity can opt for a special Launch Edition version, which will be limited to just 50 examples and priced from $44,990.

The bespoke versions upgrade the standard leather interior to finer Nappa hide and adds ventilation to the front seats, while the steering wheel is swapped out for a sports leather version.

On the outside the standard 18-inch alloy wheels are binned in favour of sportier 20-inch hoops, and the halogen headlights with daytime running lights are upgraded to adaptive bi-Xenon units with LED DRLs.

GM Holden executive director of sales Peter Keley said the new Astra and Cascada additions were eagerly awaited by both customers and dealers alike.

“Astra and Cascada exhibit all the hallmarks of premium European manufactured cars,” he said. “Both are visually stunning with great road presence and exceptional build quality.

“We are confident these are the right cars for Australia, giving buyers a vehicle to aspire to own and this is something echoed by our dealers.

“Dealers nationwide have expressed interest and excitement.”

Both Cascada options are powered by the 1.6-litre petrol engine, which generates 125kW and 260Nm of torque. Combined fuel consumption stands at 7.5 litres per 100km, while emitting 181g of CO2 per kilometer.

Holden's 16-valve Ecotec engine includes some up-to-the-minute technology derived from racing development such as sodium-filled valves, oil-jet piston-cooling and laser-etched cylinder bores.

Holden is not talking about performance figures but combined with a relatively beefy 1744kg kerb weight, the Cascada may struggle to keep up with the immediate competition from Volkswagen and its Golf cabriolet.

The drop-top Holden may also bump gloves with the likes of Peugeot's 308CC, the Renault Megane CC and convertible versions of Audi's A3 and the 2 Series from BMW.

Despite a platform shared with the Astra, Holden says the Cascada has been individually engineered to provide a stiff chassis and rewarding handling that can be lost with the absence of a solid roof panel.

HiPerStrut front suspension resists another undesirable trait, minimising torque-steer often associated with powerful and weighty front-drive vehicles, while rear suspension is a Watts-link setup with bushes retuned specifically for Australian roads to reduce road noise.

Steering is electrically powered and the Cascada's brakes are discs all-round measuring 326mm at the front and 235mm at the opposite end.

Holden says a particular focus on luxury and comfort was employed with its new convertible and even cooler days can be enjoyed with the roof down thanks to heated front sports seats and steering wheel.

Driver assistance systems include front and rear parking radar with reversing camera, cruise control, hill-hold, rain-sensing wipers and automatic headlamps.

Safety systems also feature highly in the Cascada with dual front and side airbags, ESC with traction control, ABS, active headrests, front seat seatbelt warning and Isofix child seat anchors.

Critically, the soft-top Cascada also gets a pop-up roll-over bar that supports the weight of the vehicle if it should capsize. The twin steel hoops spring from behind the rear seats and together with the windscreen frame, protect the cabin space.

The standard MyLink entertainment system brings a 7.0-inch touchscreen to access digital radio, MP3 CD player, phone book transfer, audio and phone streaming via Bluetooth, navigation, as well as access to Pandora, Stitcher and TuneIn applications.

One hundred litres of boot space is invaded by the roof when stowed, taking the volume from a maximum of 380 litres to 280 litres when the top is open.

Holden Cascada pricing*
Cascada (a)$41,990
Cascada Launch Edition (a)$44,990
*Excludes on-road costs.

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