Opel Cascada promises to challenge premium brands

Article by Anita Panait, on October 22, 2012

Opel/Vauxhall has released photos of its new midsize Cascada convertible. The two-door Cascada is set to be included in Opel’s European lineup as a replacement for the Astra TwinTop and is scheduled to be rolled out in early 2013. The soft-top may also be available in North America via the Buick brand.

According to Opel Chairman Thomas Sedran, the Cascada will complete the brand\'s product offensive that already includes the Mokka subcompact sports utility vehicle, Adam minicar and Ampera plug-in hybrid.

In a statement, Sedran remarked that the midsize cabriolet segment is currently filled with very high-priced vehicles from premium carmakers. He added that that through the Cascada, Opel is offering all the typical features and premium qualities of a midsize convertible at an affordable price.

Opel is highlighting that Cascada is longer than the Audi A5 convertible, throwing a hint that midsize soft-top will offer more metal for the money than premium-brand convertibles. Having dimensions of 4697mm (184.9 inches) in length and 1840mm in width, the Cascada is longer and wider than the four-door Astra sedan and its US counterpart, the Buick Verano.

The Cascada carries some styling cues from the range-topping Opel Insignia. While its predecessor, the Astra TwinTop, used a folding metal hardtop, the Cascada employs a fabric roof that can be opened in just 17 seconds.

The roof could be opened remotely at standstill via a button on the key fob and at speeds up to 50 km/h (30 mph) via a dashboard-mounted switch. Opel has yet to divulge the pricing details for the Cascada, although the carmaker has said the vehicle will carry a tag price higher than the Astra TwinTop.

The new Opel Cascada marks the brand’s comeback into the mid-size convertible segment, around four decades after walking away. While the Cascada was converted from Opel’s own direct models, the brand’s larger convertibles were adapted from vehicles that weren’t produced directly by the carmaker. These larger cabrios – sold as limited editions -- were converted by specialist coachbuilders like Autenrieth and Karl Deutsch. Interestingly, outsourcing convertible production to other builders was considered as a typical practical back in those days.

For instance, Autenrieth was commissioned by Opel to convert the Opel Kapitän Cabriolet in 1953. The Kapitän Cabriolet measures over 4.7 meters, which means it is longer than the present-day Cascada. More than a decade after in 1964, Karl Deutsch was able to successfully convert the Opel Rekord A Cabrio. However, such conversions proved to be costly for customers. Aside from the base price of the to-be-converted sedan, customers also have to pay an amount equivalent to around two-thirds of that. In comparison, Opel planned and engineered the new Cascada as an entirely stand-alone model that is also accessible in terms of pricing. It is not just a convertible version of an existing product.

The German carmaker designed the Cascada to become a transportation unit that could be driven not only when the weather is favorable, but in any day and any weather. With the Cascada, Opel is targeting customers who wanted a premium open-air vehicle that also offers everyday practicality. These customers are considered to be leading active lifestyles and are involved in sports outdoor activities. Opel see these customers to be looking for a convertible that offers an outstanding price-performance ratio with emphasis on comfort.

To appeal to these customers, the new Opel Cascada features a trunk that could accommodate up to 380 liters of cargo. The Cascada has the FlexFold system that allows users to easily fold down the 50:50 split rear seat-back rests.

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