No I’m not talking about a scene from Hangover 2, I’m talking about my week behind the wheel of Holden’s new Cascada.
As luck would have it (bad luck mainly) I managed to pick a week that provided record level rain downfall and gale force winds to secure a review of Holden’s move into the luxury convertible market and if I’m honest, it couldn’t have worked out better.
Let’s face it, it’s easy to say how wonderful a convertible car is when the sun is out and you’re hugging the winding roads of somewhere inspirational like the Californian coastline in summer, but with no first class plane ticket forthcoming (and sadly not enough holiday time even if there was) I had to settle for Auckland in mid-winter.
The Cascada is a genuine (albeit snug in the back) four seater softtop. It has European styling (so evidently not British) and strong defined bodylines that seem to narrow rear to front almost in a wedge. It’s fully equipped in the tech department and has plenty of pep from under the bonnet too. If it were a fixed hardtop you’d be pleased with its Coupe look and style but there is something more to brag about being a convertible.
The Cascada’s triple layered roof is fully automated and it effortlessly goes up and down in under 20 seconds respectively; and all at the push of a button near the gearstick – plus it can even be done standing outside via the keyfob. Oh and should you be showing off by driving roof down in the changeable NZ weather, you can raise the top without pulling over (at up to 50kph) too! Alas, as I pointed out earlier, while I had possession of the car the opportunities to run alfresco were few and far between however, it did help me become more aware of the adaptability of this softop convertible.
Take for example driving roof up in the heavy rain; although for many this would be a bit of a setback, for me it was truly one the coziest places to be. The sound of the heavy raindrops bouncing off the car’s canvass lid so close to my head took me back to my family holidays of yesteryear and camping in the British summer. It’s an incredibly soothing sound and worthy of turning down the stereo and embracing the feeling, I was half temped to go and get the rest of my family involved, grab sleeping bags, park up and stay the night.
Getting a full sunny day to drive the Cascada was not going to happen and nor was my time management at its best when (on the odd occasion) the rain stopped (the office chores are an inconsiderate mistress) so I opted for extended nighttime commutes home. As the sun and temperature dropped; I lowered the Cascada’s roof, put the heater on full, seats on heat and flicked the switch that made the steering wheel toasty. Yes I must have looked a little bit unbalanced driving top down on a cold midwinter night but (and it is a big BUT), the route north over the harbor bridge and beyond, looking up at the stars and the uninhibited view back at the neon lights of the city – all the while being surrounded by traffic and the brisk cold night air – really is a sublime experience.
So although it may have been a bit mad looking from the outside looking in, from my point of view you’d be crazier not to!
The Cascada has Holden’s 1.6L Turbo engine that delivers its 125kW and 260Nm very smoothly but (more importantly for me) it was the low hum of its voice at low revs that I preferred. It’s not meant to be a sports car, it’s a stylish automobile with a dollop of fun and the addition of the deep exhaust note seems to underline its happiness to be there.
Being a convertible, the interior has ‘practical’ materials and yet Holden has managed to make it seem a more than a little flash. Stiching has been added along the dash, Chome accents accentuate the vents and it has perforated leather seats (which are soft and comforting and HEATED). Mylink infotainment comes to you via a 7” colour screen and holds the likes of Pandora, Sticher which blare out beautifully through 7 speakers.
Holden have ticked all the boxes in the safety department too, daytime running lamps, Electronic Stability control, traction, hill start, blind spot etc; it also has a reverse camera but to me this lacks a bit of clarity. Hopefully you will never need it but the Cascada has pop-up roll over bars for peace of mind plus it boasts a sports chassis and reinforced body. All this may sound heavy but it doesn’t feel that way at all.
Driving around the metropolis with the Cascada’s top down is a truly liberating experience, you feel closer to the world that the roof of a car normally shields you from and it gives you ‘open air’ fun that you should take advantage of even when the sun doesn’t shine.
There are naysayers that will tell you that having a convertible in winter is a terrible idea but I can happily report that regardless of what the weather wants to throw at you a soft top has you covered (or not as the case may be). And one final point I’d like to add, come rain of shine I’d rather be behind the wheel of the Cascada than reliving a scene from one of the Hangover movies!
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