Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Buick Cascada Test Drive

 It has been about 3 years since we have seen the first pictures of the Cascada. As an Opel.
I remember thinking it was a great looking car. And that GM should bring it over as a Buick.

Well, it took a while for them to do it. (3 years is quite a long time.)
So now we have this "new" Buick that is actually a 3 year old model.

But. It still looks great. (Almost futuristic from some angles) I think it is one of the best looking convertible out there. New design or not.
(A couple of people have actually asked me what it was. And I got a few thumbs up while driving!)

I only wish the translation into a Buick had come with a new, more expressive grille.
As it is, the front end is the most boring part of the car.

Also, the US version only comes with giant 20 inch wheels. Even though I am always for "big wheels", 20 inches seems a bit much on this car.
I really think 19 would have been plenty...

 Inside, everything looks fine and feels very solid and well but together.
I also really like the fact that the edge of the windshield is pretty far from your face. So you can really enjoy the car as a convertible.
And the integrated sun shade is a really nice touch. They usually stick out.
 The back seat is surprisingly roomy. I am about 5 feet 11 inches and like driving far from the wheel, yet there was enough space for another adult behind me.

Something that is much harder to find in a Mustang or Camaro.
The new Audi A3 Convertible is also much smaller than this.
 Another nice touch is the fully automatic power top switch. One for the top and one (one touch) for all 4 windows.
 Now for the stuff that looks a bit "old"...

The center part of the dash is very similar to the one in the Verano and Regal. Which makes sense since the Cascada is based on the previous generation Opel Astra (Just like the Verano).
But newer Buicks and Opels now have a very different, simpler and more elegant design.

That sea of button is very "5 years ago".

But in reality, everything does work fine and is pretty easy to get used to. So it's no big deal.
The screen is also buried in there. Like in a cave. And its interface is also "older GM" stuff.
Again, it works fine. But it's no "Apple CarPlay".

The seats are very comfortable. Even in the back. Where the angle is just fine. Unlike other convertibles where the back part is almost vertical.

The "premium" stereo sounds just fine. Although calling it "premium" might be a bit of a stretch.
(A Bose option would be nice)
 The dials themselves are nice. But these rather cheap looking plasti-chrome surrounds are, again,  also a bit old looking. ( Pontiac Vibe ?)

And that little red screen feels like an older German car too.

 The fold out key is also another old timey detail. No push button here. (More like a 2006 VW.)

 The Cascada is very quiet. All the time. Idle is almost silent. And the engine always feels super smooth.

The 6 speed auto is very quick to react. And also very smooth and unobtrusive .

I had read some other reviewers complaining about the lack of power.
As far as I am concerned, there is plenty of power.
I had up to 3 people on board, and the car never felt slow. Ever.

 The ride is fine for about 90% of the time.
But when the road gets rough, these 20 inch tires can be pretty tough. (And noisy .)

Which is too bad. I don't think anyone will see this as a sports car, so I'm not sure why they decided on such huge wheels and sporty tires.

The Cascada is rated at 20/27MPG.
I got about 21/22 in the city. And had no problem getting 30 on the freeway.
These are pretty good numbers, but nothing earth shattering.

Especially considering it uses a small 1.6 Liter engine.
(The much more powerful 2.0 Liter Mustang and Camaro are rated at 22/31.)

Buick lists the Audi A3 convertible as the Cascada's main competition.
But the Cascada is actually a much larger car. By 10 inches.
(It is even longer than the A5 convertible, by 3 inches.)

I think GM only compares them because of price. (And there aren't many 4 seater convertibles around anymore...)
The Buick being about $2500 cheaper.
For a larger car with more power.

I haven't driven the A3. But the design is so generic and boring it makes me sad when I see one.

I sat in a couple of them and don't really like the interior either. Nothing feels really "premium". (Same thing with the Mercedes CLA)

Everything in the Buick feels very solid. The heavy doors almost have a Mercedes feel to them.

The A3 is much more a VW than an Audi.
And that 1.8 Liter VW engine isn't as smooth and quiet as the Cascada's 1.6 Liter.

As I don't really care about brands,  my choice would definitely be the Cascada.

The Buick Casdada is a great convertible.

It is quiet, comfortable, roomy and feels like a tank.
And, it looks fantastic.

Sure, a few things inside betray its true age. But these are mostly details.
Small things that would be fixed in what they call a "mid-cycle refresh".
Like a new larger screen. Revised dashboard with less buttons and switches.
And maybe smoother/smaller tires.

Also, I am not sure why they offer two models. "regular" and "premium".
The premium basically only adds a few electronic driving aids. (For about $2000 more) But nothing like a better stereo, memory seats, cooling seats or a larger engine.

I think they should just offer one model with a couple of option packages.
And a few more color options.

Like this black/brown interior offered in Europe but not in the US. (!)

Here is all you need to know about the car I drove for a week.
Just click on it. ( I dare you)


FusioptimaSX said...

On paper and from your review, this seems like a winner, except for that price and the MPGs. I mean, this is almost $40,000. I keep running through my mind what I can get for $40,000....there's quite a bit!

Anonymous said...

so so ... itsy-bitsy teeny-weenie tiny. I've been looking for a REAL convertible AUTOMOBILE for 8 years now. Leaning towards getting a used Chrysler 200 (because EVERYTHING ELSE is to small for me to be comfortable in.) Or maybe a '76 Eldorado if I can find one in excellent condition. Drove the E-class, a used Volvo, Mustang, BMW 4, and passed on anything smaller than those. If Chrysler were to announce a 300 Convertible, or if Cadillac built one on the Ct6 platform I'd put down my deposit IMMEDIATELY!

Anonymous said...

Hi Vince,

Thank you for reviewing the Buick Cascada. It sounds like a decent car and already seems to be selling more than was expected. Hopefully, if there is a next generation of this vehicle, they will address the points you mentioned. I think they already said that by 2018 all Buicks will have the new brand "face." By the way I saw a new 2017 LaCrosse the other day on the streets of in Chicago - I didn't think it was supposed to be out until later in the year. But it was absolutely gorgeous and made me desire one (though I had not previously thought I'd want a large car like that).

Vince Burlapp said...

Basically the car starts $34 000. The only other 4 seat convertibles for that price are the Mustang/Camaro and Beetle. None of these have the same "roomy for a convertible" back seat..
No matter what the Cascada never gets to $40 000.

Anonymous said...

looks better , drives better, and is better than the Maserati Grancabrio

Anonymous said...

Ideal for 80 year old cougars.

Captain Midnight said...

Would rather have the Buick Avista concept in coupe or convertible form.

Anonymous said...

The only problem with fixing the older details in a mid-cycle refresh is that, because the model is 3 years in, this is already the mid-cycle refresh, and an all new model will likely appear in 2-3 years.