Buick’s efforts to ditch its stodgy and staid reputation took another step forward today as it rolled out its first convertible in 25 years: the 2016 Cascada, which will go on sale early next year.
The new ragtop is a convertible from the word go, not a retrofitted coupe or sedan. Set up as a 2+2 that will seat four adults, the Cascada is a departure from the division’s last convertible: the poor-selling Buick Reatta. Pricing was not announced.
“The new, 2016 Buick Cascada is a beautiful, engaging convertible that represents the very best of the brand’s global development practices,” said Duncan Aldred, vice president of Buick, in a statement. “It’s a car that will delight customers with its fun spirit and help drive the momentum that’s fueling Buick’s success.”
The Cascada features a youthful look that is contemporary: an enduring, classic design. However, it’s got a little moxie to it with 20-inch wheels and a low stance. It’s a design with wide appeal.
“The Cascada’s design blends the suggestion of speed with sophisticated and uncompromising details,” said Holt Ware, Buick exterior design director. “It looks handsome and has a premium appearance when the top is lowered – and a perfect, seamless profile when it’s up.”
As with most convertibles, one of the most important things is how does the top function? On the Cascada, it lowers in just 17 seconds at speeds up to 31 mph. However, when it’s not necessary to whip through one’s hair and it’s in the closed position, it provides “superior thermal and acoustic insulation contribute to driving comfort.” It folds into a hard tonneau cover to complete the seamless look.
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Not only does it look good, it’s functional with plenty of storage space for short getaways and weekend trips: 13.4 cubic feet of cargo room with the top up and 9.8 cubic feet with the top down. Additionally, the rear seatbacks fold down at the push of a button giving owners more space for carrying longer items. It also boasts many of the new and exciting features that General Motors has been talking up during the last 12 to 18 months, including:
- Buick IntelliLink with a seven-inch-diagonal color touch screen featuring Text Message Alerts, Siri Eyes Free for Apple phones with an iOS 6 or newer operating system and navigation
- OnStar 4G LTE with built-in Wi-Fi hotspot
- Electronic rear-seat entry system automatically powers the front seats forward by simply pressing the seatback forward. It moves the seats back when the seatback is returned to the upright position
- Electric safety belt presenters that use telescopic arms to slide the upper front safety belt assemblies from behind the front seat into closer reach for easier buckling
- Rollover protection bars that deploy behind the rear seats when the possibility of a rollover is detected
- Lane departure warning, rear park assist, rearview camera and Rainsense windshield wipers.
All of the niceties are expected, but a ragtop isn’t much fun if the “go” doesn’t live up to the “show.” The Cascada features a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine putting out 200 horsepower with an estimated 206 lb-ft of torque with an overboost feature that briefly pushes torque to an estimated 221 lb-ft. With more than 100 horsepower per liter, it’s one of the most power-dense engines in the segment, Buick claims. The engine, which uses direct injection and variable valve timing, is mated to a six-speed automatic.
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It appears it can handle a little rigorous activity as well. With a rigid frame, the HiPer Strut front suspension reduces torque steer and gives the driver a better feel for the road while the Watts Z-link rear suspension helps center the axle while grooving through corners. This adds to the overall handling of the Cascada.
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The Z-link design is also lighter and requires less space than a typical fully independent rear suspension. The lower weight enhances efficiency, while the compact design enables the Cascada’s generous cargo room, according to Buick.
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