The automotive obit columns are littered with newly-departed four-seat convertibles. Cars like Chrysler’s 200, Toyota’s Camry-based Solara, and Volvo’s C70. Next on the list; Volkswagen’s folding-hardtop Eos.
All gone, or soon-to-be-heading, to that junkyard in the skies.
So full credit to Buick for bucking the trend and introducing its terrific new Cascada just in time for spring – otherwise known as The Florida Convertible Season.
The Cascada is essentially a re-badged version of the European Opel Cascada that GM builds at its plant in Poland.
This is one sexy-looking cruiser, with its sleek door-wedge profile, high waistline, rakish snout and killer 20-inch rims.
Thankfully the Cascada sticks with a canvas top instead of a complex and top-heavy folding metal hardtop.
And the top works like a dream, opening or closing in a mere 17 seconds and at speeds of up to 31mph. There are no levers to pull, latches to latch; just toggle a small switch on the center console.
With the top raised, there’s barely a whistle of wind or rumble of road noise that penetrates is triple layers of cloth and industrial-grade rubber sealing. The only negative is the teeny rear window, which provides all the visibility of a mailbox slot.
But top-down, the Cascada is hard to fault. You sit low down behind that ski-slope-like windshield. Raise the windows, flip-up the rear wind deflector, and there’s hardly a rustle of breeze to muss-up your hair-do.
The beauty of the Buick is that it’s a proper four-seater, so family or friends can come along for the ride. OK, those rear pews are a little tight on space and probably best-suited to kids. But a couple of adults will fit for a quick trip to the beach.
Inside, the entire cabin is high in luxury and quality. Sun-reflecting leather covers the seats and chunky wheel while sleek, satin-finished metal surrounds the easy-to-read instruments and shift lever. You could easily be inside an Audi.
Powering the new Cascada is a fuel-sipping 1.6-liter turbocharged inline-4 hooked up to a six-speed automatic. The motor cranks out an eager 200 ponies and features a cool ‘overboost’ feature that amps-up the torque from 207 lb-ft to 221 lb-ft for 10 seconds when you need an extra burst of power for passing.
There wasn’t much passing to be done when we tried out the new Cascada on a drive from Key West to Miami last week. Top-down on a chilly Key West morning wasn’t a problem, thanks to the standard seat heaters, heated steering wheel, and furnace-like heater.
This is a fun car to drive, even on arrow-straight A1-A. The turbo four-banger offers oodles of smooth, refined power; the electric-assist steering has precision and is perfectly-weighted; while the suspension delivers sharp, responsive handling while soaking up lumps and bumps.
But arguably the best part is the price, which kicks off at just $33,900. That buys the standard model which is loaded to the roof with smart leather, pop-up roll-over bars, a terrific stereo with nav and those awesome 20-inch wheels.
Stepping-up to the $36,990 Premium version adds active safety technology, like forward collision and lane departure warning, and conveniences like rain-sensing wipers.
I must admit that I loved driving this new Cascada and reckon it will be a huge hit for Buick. Just don’t forget the SPF30.