Opel aims to challenge premium brands with the Cascada
Two-door softtop replaces the Astra TwinTop.
Opel/Vauxhall has revealed its new midsize Cascada convertible in a series of photos. The car goes on sale in early 2013.
The two-door softtop enters the Opel lineup in Europe as a replacement for the Astra TwinTop. The car may also be sold in North American by the Buick brand.
Opel Chairman Thomas Sedran said the Cascada will round off the brand's product offensive that also includes the Mokka subcompact SUV, Adam minicar and Ampera plug-in hybrid.
"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," Sedran said in a statement.
Opel is making much of the Cascada's dimensions, pointing out that it is longer than the Audi A5 convertible, the suggestion being that the Cascada will offer more metal for the money than premium-brand convertibles.
At 4697mm (184.9 inches) long and 1840mm wide, the Cascada is longer and wider than the four-door Astra sedan and its U.S. counterpart, the Buick Verano.
The Cascada takes some of its styling inspiration from the range-topping Opel Insignia.
Unlike its predecessor, which used a folding metal hardtop, the Cascada uses a fabric roof that can be opened in 17 seconds-both 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.
Official pricing has yet to be announced, although Opel says the Cascada will be priced higher than the Astra TwinTop, in a move reflecting upper-market aspirations.
With the roof raised, trunk capacity is put at 350 liters (12.4 cubic feet), or just 2.8 cubic feet less than the Astra sedan. With the roof stowed, storage space is cut to 280 liters, however, Opel says it will offer an optional FlexFold system that uses an electronic mechanism to fold the rear seats in a 50:50 split, creating more cargo room.
Opel says the Cascada boasts far greater body rigidity than the Astra TwinTop. Torsional stiffness is up a claimed 43 percent, which is said to contribute to improved handling, greater levels of ride comfort and a significant reduction in noise, vibration and harshness.
Among the chassis developments is a front suspension modeled closely on that used by the Insignia. It uses geometry that is claimed to reduce torque steer as part of what Opel parent General Motors calls Hi-Per.
Opel has confirmed there will be three four-cylinder engines available in the Cascada at the start of European sales, with more to come in the future.
Turbocharged gasoline units include a 138-hp 1.4-liter Ecotec and a new 168-hp 1.6-liter direct injection Ecotec, the latter of which is set to form the basis of a new engine-downsizing strategy recently unveiled by Opel. Joining them will be a 165-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter common-rail diesel. Gearbox choices include a six-speed manual and six-speed automatic.
While GM has yet to officially confirm whether the Cascada will be offered in North America, Opel sources suggest it has already met with approval from high-ranking U.S.-based officials.
"[CEO] Dan Akerson was so thrilled about the Cascada that he asked: 'Why don't we bring it to the U.S,' " was how one insider summed up the reaction to the new Opel.
Opel originally planned to launch the Cascada in both convertible and coupe body styles. However, the coupe has been placed on hold due to GM's financial situation and falling sales in most major markets it is represented.
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