Opel Cascada is Europe's Buick convertible [w/video]Wed, 17 Oct 2012 18:28:00 ESTBuick convertible of sorts. The most ringing endorsement of this conjecture comes today from General Motors Europe, as the new Opel Cascada has debuted on the interwebs. Opel calls the four-passenger Cascada an "athletic, glamorous midsize convertible." With a length of 4,697mm (185 in.), the Cascada is as long as an Audi A5, to which GM has said it would be slightly larger.
The Cascada, which is Spanish for waterfall, features a cloth convertible top that retracts in 17 seconds and at speeds up to 50 km/h (31 mph). The Cascada features a 1.4-liter turbo gas engine, 2.0-liter turbodiesel with 165 horsepower and a range-topping 1.6-liter turbocharged Ecotec engine that puts out 170 horsepower and 280 Nm (207 lb-ft). Power is sent through either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.
According to GM, the Cascada will also come rife with luxury and tech features. In addition to adaptive forward lighting and ergonomic heated front seats, the convertible will feature Opel Eye, which is a front camera that can recognize traffic signs and incorporates lane departure warning and forward collision alert.
Given GM's propensity for re-badging Opels as Buicks, it's not far out of the realm of possibility that we could see this vehicle Stateside wearing a Buick badge. Though the Cascada's design takes some cues from the Insignia sedan, which we know in the US as the Regal, the platform on which it rides is shared by the Verano, so what it would be called in North America is anyone's guess. How about Velite?
New Opel Cascada: Athletic, glamorous midsize convertible
-Elongated 4-seater midsize convertible with muscular, timeless elegance
-Sophisticated, high-quality soft-top system operates at driving speeds of up to 50 km/h
-Outstanding body stiffness combined with HiPerStrut front suspension technology
-Broad powertrain line-up with new generation direct injection gasoline 1.6 Turbo
2012-10-17 Rüsselsheim. Back to the most intense automotive experiences: cruising along with the sun softly warming your skin; feeling the air thickening in your open hand as speed increases; tipping back your head and finding no limit to your view, just diving into the deep blue sky. These are typical Cascada moments. The Cascada, Opel's new all-season convertible due to be launched in early 2013, is a classy four-seater with an elongated silhouette and a high-quality soft top. Heading to the top of Opel's line-up, the Cascada is a midsize convertible not only by its size (length: 4,697 mm; width 1,840 mm excl. mirrors) but also by its allure and the premium technologies and features it offers.
After several generations of compact Kadett and Astra cabriolets, Opel returns to an older tradition of prestigious and rare midsize, four-seat soft-top convertibles from the fifties and sixties – like the Kapitän and the Rekord – but in a new, refreshing way and with the best of modern technologies. The Cascada provides a sharp driving experience thanks to its super-rigid body, HiPerStrut front suspension and FlexRide adaptive damping system. Its driver and passengers can enjoy the open-air feeling thanks to the premium soft top that can be opened at the touch of a button in 17 seconds while driving at speeds of up to 50 km/h. Electric seat belt presenters, exclusive Nappa leather and ventilated, ergonomic seats as well as invisible, watchful safety systems make life serene and safe.
Thomas Sedran, Deputy Chairman of Adam Opel Management Board: "The midsize cabriolet segment is only occupied by very high-priced cars from premium manufacturers. With the Cascada, Opel offers all the typical features and premium qualities of a midsize convertible, but at an affordable price. The Cascada rounds off Opel's product offensive: in 2012 and 2013, we're enhancing our portfolio and entering all-new segments, with the electric Ampera, the small SUV Mokka, the fashionable, urban ADAM, and now this midsize convertible."
Attitude: Pure soft-top elegance enables full open-air enjoyment
With its broad stance and a flowing continuity of sculptured shapes that is typical for Opel, the Cascada design reflects the classic and timeless elegance of the "Grandes Routières" of a bygone and glamorous age. 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.
"Most convertibles look good with the top down, but many seem clumsy with their roof up. Thanks to its high-quality, aerodynamically clean soft top with a perfect, seamless profile, the Opel Cascada also cuts a fine figure when closed," says Malcolm Ward, Director Exterior Design.
Tastefully sculpted in a purposeful power bulge, the bonnet tops a deepened front grille with bold chrome applications. The fog lights are carried in two overturned shark fin elements, which are visually enhanced and balanced by chrome inserts. Both using LED technology, the daytime running lights in the headlamps and the rear lights incorporate the Opel-typical wing signature. In the rear, the LED lighting modules are diffused for giving a solid and sharp light signal - a typical feature of premium class cars. A proud chrome strip linking the lighting units set into the boot lid balances the front chrome trim.
Top quality materials selected from suppliers of the most prestigious premium cabriolets are used to build Opel Cascada's soft top. It benefits from superior acoustic and thermal insulation thanks to a special layer of polyester fleece between the outside layer and the interior lining. An electro-hydraulic mechanism activated via a switch located between the front seats opens the roof in 17 seconds at driving speeds of up to 50 km/h – placing the Cascada among the benchmarks in roof-top operation. In addition, key-operated remote control for opening and closing the top is standard in all Cascada models. Three soft top colors are available at launch. They can be coordinated with ten different body colors.
Indulgence: Crafted cockpit with outstanding comfort and functionality
The Cascada's cockpit offers a striking, sculptural yet sporty design highlighted by precise, handcrafted details. The lines of the wing-shaped instrument panel, which features real stitching on soft, wrapped surfaces, flow into the doors, dynamically embracing the front-seat occupants. All new richly trimmed seats are offered in several elegantly embossed fabrics and leathers. The up-level AGR certified ergonomic seats are wrapped in rich, soft Nappa leather and benefit from heating and ventilation systems: on hot, sunny days, fresh air is drawn through the holes in the perforated leather to increase front occupants' comfort. Securing them is easy and comfortable due to the electric seat belt extender which brings the seat belt within close reach using a telescoping arm. An electric Easy Entry system makes access to the rear seat swift and comfortable.
The Opel Cascada benefits from great storage and stowage capacity for a convertible, allowing comfortable, all-season daily use. Several useful, large storage spaces have been placed around the driver: in the door, in and under the instrument panel and, thanks to a standard Electric Park Brake, in the center console – just where you need storage space the most. The minimum load volume with the roof open is 280 liters, and up to 350 liters are available when the soft top is closed. To extend its load volume or transport exceptionally long objects, the Opel Cascada benefits from the FlexFold system that electrically releases and folds down the 50:50 split rear seat back rests – a feature that cannot be offered in hard-top cabriolets.
Excellence: Superior body stiffness combines with outstanding chassis technology
Body stiffness is a key criterion for open-roof vehicles; it has a high impact on their driving behavior, steering precision, acoustics, safety and comfort and also conveys a clear feeling of their genuine quality. The Opel Cascada provides an superior balance between torsional and bending stiffness thanks to several measures including impressive underbody crossed steel bars and reinforced rocker profiles. Compared to Opel's previous generation cabriolet, the Astra TwinTop, the Cascada's body is 43% stiffer in torsion and 10% in bending. This layout provides a solid basis for the suspension and contributes towards significant reduction in noise, vibrations and harshness.
The new midsize Opel Cascada naturally has a more impressive footprint than the 2006 compact Astra Twin Top. The wheelbase is 71 mm longer, the front tread 56 mm and the rear tread 70 mm wider. That benefits handling and stability. The front axle of the Cascada features as standard the best of Opel chassis technology with the HiPerStrut layout that was initially developed for the Insignia OPC. HiPerStrut (High Performance Strut) separates the functions of damping and steering and provides highest traction and cornering precision as well as reduced torque steer and improved grip under all circumstances. The Opel Cascada has electrically powered rack-and-pinion steering with speed sensitive assistance. For more direct steering feel and precision, the electric motor is mounted on the rack, as opposed to the base of the steering column. FlexRide, Opel's integrated, fully adaptive chassis control system is of course available in the Cascada. It enhances its ride and handling performance and safety as it adapts to the driving situation, driving style as well as the drivers' preferences. The Opel Cascada can be equipped with 17" to 20" wheels. Brake discs have sizes of up to 326 mm in front and 325 mm in rear.
Performance: New generation direct Injection 1.6 Turbo gasoline engine
A broad powertrain line-up will be available in the Opel Cascada convertible. The 1.4 gasoline Turbo opens the portfolio; it is combined with a manual 6-speed transmission and is available in two output versions of 88 kW/120 hp and 103 kW/140 hp, both delivering up to 220 Nm thanks to an overboost function. On the diesel side, the 2.0 CDTI with 121 kW/165 hp comes with either a manual or an automatic 6-speed transmission. This engine delivers up to 380 Nm when its overboost is active.
The highlight in the Cascada powertrain line-up will be the 1.6 SIDI Turbo ECOTEC gasoline engine. This midsize direct injection unit is part of a fully new generation that makes its debut in early 2013 and is geared to very smooth ride and torque delivery and great fuel economy. It delivers 125 kW/170 hp, between 1,650 and 3,200 rpm – and 280 Nm thanks to an overboost function. This engine will be available with manual and automatic 6-speed transmissions. The new, low-friction 6-speed automatic transmission in the Cascada features an Active Select function that allows manual shifting for a more sporty driving experience.
More powerful versions of both gasoline and diesel engines will be launched in the Cascada at a later stage.
Serenity: Sophisticated technology and safety features
The Cascada combines an open-air driving experience with the best of Opel technology. This includes the AFL+ Adaptive Forward Lighting system with up to 11 automatic functions, the second generation Opel Eye front camera with its new, extended functionalities (enhanced Traffic Sign Recognition and Lane Departure Warning, new Following Distance Indication and Forward Collision Alert), a rear-view camera and an Advanced Park Assist that eases parking maneuvers, an ultra-sonic based Side Blind Spot Alert, ergonomic front seats, a heated steering wheel, and Hill Start Assist.
The Cascada's extremely rigid passenger cell is mainly fabricated from high-strength steel for the least deformation and largest possible survival space in crash conditions. Doors have diagonally mounted ultra-high strength steel beams and beltline reinforcements. The A-pillars supporting the windscreen are in press hardened steel. In case of roll-over, pyrotechnically activated spring-loaded high-strength bars automatically deploy behind the rear seats. These pop-ups are also triggered during other severe impacts – when airbags are deployed – in order to prepare the vehicle for possible secondary impacts and resulting roll-over. Front seats both benefit from two-way active headrests and double seat belt pre-tensioners and even the two rear seats have seat belt pre-tensioners.
By George Kennedy
See also: GM pondering even closer Opel joint venture with PSA Peugeot Citro"en, Five reasons why GM would be better off without Opel, GM says it will not sell Opel, Fiat still ready to buy.