The Cascada is one of the most important new models from Holden being aimed at seeing the company through the difficult period of shutting down Australian manufacture, then into the future of import-only cars.

Holden has painted itself into a corner created by many people thinking that all cars with Holden badges have been made in this country. So the news that Holden is closing its factories has these folks thinking no Holdens will ever be sold again. Sales have slowed and the marketing guys are desperately trying to get them up and running again.

As a matter of interest, cars with Holden badges on them have been imported from Germany, Poland, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Mexico and other countries.

Which brings us back to the Holden Cascada one of the European models, built by Opel in Poland. One was with us over the Christmas and New Year break and has been just the right car for long summer evenings when the soft-top was open almost all the time.

Cleverly Opel opted for a soft-top rather than a folding hardtop for the Cascada / Astra. While hardtops may be more practical they invariably look like a coupe when the roof is closed. A soft-top tells everyone you’re in a convertible even when you’ve been forced to shut out the weather.


We initially felt the body behind the windscreen was rather too long; stretched out, even. But after spending time with the shape it grew on us, possibly because the upward sweeping lines in the sides help to shorten it visually. Anyhow, beauty is in the eye of beholders and Holden dealers tell us there has been no shortage of them checking out Cascada.

The convertible’s interior is classy, with sweeping lines enhanced by the exposed stitching. The dials are well placed and pass their messages at a glance.

Naturally, Cascada has the Holden MyLink infotainment system. In this instance it has a 7.0-inch colour screen display with satellite navigation and Pandora, Stitcher and TuneIn Radio apps. It’s not particularly easy to use but with experience you will learn to find your way around without too much frustration.

The 1.6 turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine has 125 kW power and 260 Nm torque and drives thorough a six-speed automatic transmission. There’s no manual option as in other vehicles in the Astra range.


In addition to mandatory safety items such as airbags (dual front and side), ABS brakes and electronic stability control, the Cascada also comes with two IsoFix child-seat anchorages; a reversing camera; automatic lights and wipers; and front and rear parking sensors.

Holden Cascada is said to be designed for four adults rather than the usual two-plus-two convertible layout. Legroom is somewhat restricted in the rear so compromises between those in the front and back will often be necessary. However, Cascada is significantly better than most in this class due to its long body.

Boot space is reasonable because soft-tops need less space to stow the roof than do folding hardtops. But when Cascada’s top is where it should be – down – the boot loses a lot of vertical height in its rearmost section. Check for yourself as the shape of the boot is rather strange.

To counter the problems the rear seatbacks have a 50/50 split to let you choose your passenger / luggage compromise.

The extra mass of the convertible body (which needs extra metal under the floor to make up for the strength lost by removing the roof) takes the edge of its performance. Unlike the Astra hatch that has 147 kW power and 280 Nm torque if you opt for the six-speed manual, Holden Cascada is automatic only. If you’re looking for a high-performance open-top car then Cascada isn’t it, but as a cruiser it’s excellent.

The engine’s peak torque runs all the way from 1650 to 4500 revs so most drivers will be running with maximum torque virtually all day, every day.

Fuel consumption was reasonable, about six to seven litres per hundred kilometres on motorways and country roads, rising to eight to ten litres around town.

On smooth roads the Cascada is exceptionally quiet and comfortable. Rough roads do generate some scuttle shake, which is probably inevitable considering the large cabin opening.

This is probably the most comfortable open-top car we have ever experienced. Wind buffeting and noise is minimal, even when the windows are down and we did a trip of a couple of hours under the stars that will remain in our minds for a long time. Sadly, in most open-top cars we find ourselves putting the roof back up again after half an hour or so due to windrush.

Cascada comes with an amazingly complicated folding windbreak that clips over the rear seat, but after we removed it to carry passengers for the first time we left it double-folded and stowed in the boot – and certainly never missed it…

Handling is on the soft side and unlikely to appeal to those who enjoy early Sunday mornings on their favourite mountain roads.

Holden’s new Cascada is an excellent convertible that’s designed for cruising not bruising. With a starting price of just 41,990 plus on-roads we can see it carving out a nice niche for itself amongst longtime Holden lovers, as well as pulling others into the showroom as well.

The German Opel marque has been controlled by General Motors for almost 90 years. Holden and Opel have been closely co-operating for decades, with the first Holden Commodore being virtually an Opel Rekord with Holden engines and tough Aussie-style suspensions.

Cascada 1.6-litre turbo-petrol two-door convertible: $41,990 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Holden dealer for driveaway prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Holden Cascada 1.6-litre turbo-petrol two-door convertible)

Capacity: 1.598 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 125 kW @ 4750 rpm
Maximum Torque: 260 Nm @ 1650 rpm
Fuel Type: Petrol 95RON
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 7.5 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 181 g/km

Six-speed automatic

Length: 4696 mm
Wheelbase: 2695 mm
Width: 1839 mm
Height: 1443 mm
Turning Circle: Not supplied
Kerb Mass: 1710 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 56 litres

Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc

Three years / 100,000 km

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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