WHEN Holden's Cascada landed here last year it was the first convertible offered by the brand since 2009.
Built by Opel in Poland, the soft-top remains an important part of Holden's push to ensure they remain competitive in Australia as local manufacturing draws to an end.
It's hard not to have fun in a convertible. We spent a good portion of our week driving very slowly along Noosa's glamour-filled Hastings Street. After all, what's the point of going topless if you can't be seen?
The interior of the Cascada has a contemporary feel, a pleasant place to be, with soft leather as a standard offering and comfortable seats.
It does show its age a bit though with a dash that feels cluttered with numerous buttons and dials to acquaint yourself with.
Holden claims this is a four-adult car, but room in the rear says otherwise. Naturally, entry and exit is easier with the roof down but certainly the wider door openings help when it's in place.
Cabin storage is good with cup and bottle holders and door bins to store your essentials and even the boot - 280 litres with the roof stowed - is pretty useable. The split-fold rear seats allows you to carry longer items.
On the road
The Cascada shares underpinnings with the previous-generation Astra and the same 1.6-litre turbo-charged four cylinder under the hood.
At 125kW and 250Nm output is far from adrenaline-pumping, but more than adequate in helping the Cascada navigate both city spaces and the open road.
This is a car built for cruising rather than a sharp turn around the twisties, its bulk and weight impeding handling if pushed too hard. The ride is smooth and settled over everything bar the most inconvenient bumps and with the roof down and the wind in your hair it is easy to enjoy the world going by.
You can speak while you are doing it too with the deflector working well to keep wind buffeting and noise to a minimum.
What do you get?
Unlike Holden's new Astra for example, the Cascada misses out on safety features like blind spot monitoring and autonomous emergency, plus desirable Apple CarPlay.
Creature comforts include dual-zone climate, auto headlights and wipers, bluetooth, electric park brake, heated seats and steering wheel and Holden's MyLink infotainment system with a 7-inch colour-screen, sat nav and reverse camera.
The Cascada may be tuned for economy but it does weigh as much as an SS Commodore so it's hardly surprising that it is heavier on the juice than claimed 7.5l/100km.
We averaged 9.7l/100km during our test week, and thanks to the Cascada's European roots, it needs pricier Premium too.
Topless fans needing rear seats should also consider the Renault Megane Coupe-Cabriolet ($40,500), Mini Cooper Convertible ($37,900), Ford Mustang Convertible ($54,990), BMW 220i ($58,300) and Audi A3 Cabriolet ($48,600) for fun in the sun.
Practical and convertible rarely mix, but the seat-belt feeding mechanism means you don't have to stretch awkwardly behind you and the bigger doors makes it easier to get in and out too. The roof - a soft top - is super easy to operate and takes 17 seconds to open or close fully with the mechanism operable at speeds up to 50km/h.
Agreed a convertible is always going to have that element of cool. The Cascada is more understated than headline grabbing but still turned heads. It has smooth sleek lines with a certain unfrazzled elegance. A little bit more dazzle wouldn't hurt though.
The Cascada is a well-rounded offering for people who prefer a convertible built for cruising.
It may feel a little dated but pricing is attractive, it is an easy drive and it has enough kit to keep you comfortable too.
Driving experience 16/20
Features and equipment 14/20
Functionality and comfort 17/20
Value for money 17/20
Style and design 16/20
Model: Holden Cascada.
Details: Two-door front-wheel-drive convertible.
Engine: 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol maximum power of 125kW @ 4750-6000rpm and peak torque of 260Nm @ 1650-4500rpm.
Transmission: Six-speed auto.
Consumption: 7.5 litres/100km (combined).
Bottom line plus on roads: From $41,990.
What matters most
What we liked: Smooth comfortable drive, convertible cool factor.
What we'd like to see: More power, lower fuel consumption.
Warranty and Servicing: 3-year 100,000 kilometre warranty with lifetime capped-price servicing.
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