Jessica and I have been discussing the Cascada a lot this week. It would be easy to just compare the Vauxhall to premium brand cabriolets from the likes of BMW and Audi.
However, at £24,000, the Cascada is a much cheaper alternative and for the money, it does provide comfortable soft-top motoring for four people.
We have been blessed with great weather over the last seven days but in the depths of winter, I wonder if the Cascada would prove to be equally as likeable? I suspect not.
If you are an ‘enthusiastic’ driver, then there is no doubt you should be looking to spend your wages elsewhere because the 1.4 engine and notchy gearbox are disappointing.
It’s sadly a poor relation to the VW Golf Cabriolet but the Cascada should be on your test drive list if you are already looking at cars like the Peugeot 308 CC, or the Renault Megane C-C.
Jeremy A 150-mile round trip to London and back today should have been enough time to get to know somebody. Sat at my desk again this evening, I still don’t feel I truly know the Cascada.
On the one hand, it looks like a pretty car, with an interior that’s roomy enough for four and very well equipped for the money. On the other, it’s heavy, soulless and with the 1.4 petrol engine under the bonnet, rather slow to get up and running.
If you are considering a Cascada – or an Audi A4 Cabriolet, BMW 3 Series etc – then for heaven’s sake, make sure you test drive the forthcoming 195bhp 2.0 biturbo diesel version because I imagine it will provide the extra grunt this Vauxhall needs.
Overtaking in the 1.4 requires a lot of ‘winding up’ first. Drop down to third, find a long, straight stretch of road and cross your fingers. It’s just not an engine suited to this car.
Jeremy Even if the Cascada doesn’t lure you to a Vauxhall dealer, you can’t help but be impressed by the folding mechanism of the roof.
Bank Holidays can be a mixed bag of weather but today we were able to enjoy the last throws of the summer with the wind in our hair. The roof lowers quickly, without the need to undo any catches and folds neatly into a large slice of your boot space. Never mind.
Our 1.4 test car doesn’t have one of those annoying wind deflectors that take up all of the back seat when in place. Instead, the aerodynamics are slippery enough to direct the wind well away from the cabin area, even at motorway speed.
It’s a hairdryer job if you are sat in the back but up front, the Cascada is very refined, especially with all four windows up. Your summer hat should stay in place and you can even hear the sound system.
Jeremy The Cascada is turning headings in Cornwall. Today we were picking up a mammoth supply of pasties from the village Post Office and received admiring glances from tractor drivers and caravan owners alike.
I’m going to side with them. The ‘stubby bonnet-high boot’ look works on Vauxhall’s four-seater cabriolet. The rear end, in particular, has an uncluttered and rather chic appeal. A good deal of style for your £24,000 – but is there any substance?
As pretty as the Cascada is, the 1.4 suffers from being woefully underpowered. To achieve any kind of performance, you have to work the gearbox very hard indeed, straining the engine and reducing everyday performance down to around 37mpg max.
Changing gear through the six-speed manual transmission is also a tiresome ordeal. There’s nothing sporty about the experience, with a long throw gearstick and rather clunky changes in first, second and third. Ouch.
On a positive note, the Cascada is quiet at motorway speeds despite the canvass hood and comfortable. You can genuinely fit two adults in the back seats too, although headroom is a little claustrophobic.
Maybe we should be testing the more powerful 2.0 diesel? Vauxhall has announced new engines for the Cascada this week. I would strongly suggest you wait and purchase one of them – unless you buy a car on looks alone?
Jessica I have taken the Adam to a Polo match in the rain where it got fantastically muddy and was mistaken for a Fiat! It seems 21 year old polo players think it is cute, even with the ‘Autumn leaves’ dash trim… It was raining and they can be excused for poor taste as they were being very polite, they though it was a new purchase of mine.
I actually like the little car inside, well laid out, chunky steering wheel, easy to operate touch screen sound system, but that is where it all ends. What is it with the youthful dashboard trim and the option to have dead fly print on the wing mirrors?
When I started to drive the Adam I was disappointed at the lack of power ( and yes, I know it is better not to let our young folk loose with a powerful car) to the point where I was reluctant to overtake a 1950’s vintage car going up a hill as I did not have the zip. I dont know if any one has ever ridden a tricycle but it does corner in a similar fashion.
All of that aside, this car is sold as one that is fun and can be bought in a range of personalised options.
I must say I was very exited at the thought and rushed to the website once I knew an Adam was on the way – only to be utterly disappointed and fustrated by the set up, the lack of actual choice and the snail pace of the site. What are Vauxhall thinking?
Why sell a car on the basis of choice ( which can only mean a sophisticated interactive website) and not get even close to delivering that claim?
In my fustration I did visit the Fiat 500 website and easily put myself together a little blue car with smart wheels and a choice of trims and additions. I also (to prove a point that it must be possible to have the software to manage car customisation) went to H Modder and had a fantastic time making myself a hot car with spoilers, trims, lights, and more.
Move over “pimp my ride” and catch up Vauxhall!
Jeremy – It’s been an interesting week behind the wheel of the Adam – the upmarket city car that Vauxhall hopes will compete against the Fiat 500 and Ford Ka.
On the one hand, I really like the styling, the funky interior and the range of options available but the Adam is let down by lifeless engines and mediocre handing. Get those right and this really could be a great little car.
As it is, the Adam doesn’t match the expectations I had when it first turned up at Car Couture. So much work has gone into getting the image right that the actual driving experience has become secondary.
I’m really hoping that the next time I drive an Adam, it will have a range of new engines, a sportier gearbox and, perhaps, a ‘hot’ version that brings it to life. For now, it is going to struggle against the established opposition which have style and drivability in abundance….
Jeremy Motor manufacturers spend a fortune on choosing a name for their new cars but still manage to get it wrong. Who can forget the Ford Probe, Nissan Cedric or Mitsubishi Carisma…
So, perhaps we can forgive Vauxhall for giving their tiny city car a name of Biblical proportions. The Adam was, apparently, going to be called the Junior. Thankfully they didn’t – I owned an Alfa Romeo GT Junior in the 1970s and the two cars couldn’t be more different.
Whether Vauxhall will go the whole hog and bring out a ‘female friendly’ version of the Adam called Eve remains to be seen. Maybe they should have just called it the Adam & Eve and be done with it.
Munching over breakfast this morning, I spent a good 30 minutes looking at the Adam parked outside, trying to think up a better name. I quite liked Bob, or Bert.
Maybe Vauxhall should simply follow Audi and go for a letter and number – the V1? Perfect.
Jeremy ‘It’s not an Audi A1!’ A point I have made to a couple of interested onlookers as I drive the Adam this week. I think it’s mainly down to the contrasting roof colour – a popular options on the A1 – which gets the Vauxhall plenty of admiring glances.
The styling of the Adam isn’t retro cool – just modern cute. There are none of the old style buttons on the dashboard like the Mini or the Fiat 500, just a neatly laid-out look that works very well on the eye AND from a functional point of view.
I’m just back from a major Saturday shopping trip and had to use the passenger footwell for a few of the bags because of the lack of bootspace in the Adam. If I hadn’t had a back seat passenger I would have dropped the rear seats. Vauxhall should consider a more family-friendly stretched Adam – just like Fiat has done with the 500.
So, the little Adam is starting to grow on me. If I lived in London it would be a great city car. If only it was ore fun to drive on the open road…
Jeremy The president of Ferrari, Luca Montezemolo, told me yesterday that his cars are like beautiful women. However, a Ferrari was more desirable ‘because you can have dinner with a beautiful woman and then feel disappointed’. There speaks a man who knows.
I was tempted to ask him his opinion of the Vauxhall Adam but then thought better of it. After all, in his opinion, the only other rival to Ferrari is Porsche, which he regards politely as ‘quite a good sports car too.’
Ferrari is investing big euros in developing the Maranello factory, making it more eco-friendly and modern. It’s a sprawling site and the 3,000 staff can use any of the 150 bicycles dotted around the place for transport. I think the Adam (if it had a Fiat Group badge) would be a great alternative for them.
Like Montezemolo‘s beautiful women, it’s fantastic to look at and turns heads. However, driving back from Heathrow last night, it was quite clear that the Vauxhall is definitely a car for city use only. Cute as it is, the supermini feels uncomfortable on the motorway, is dominated by tyre noise (could it have been the optional 17-inch alloys?) and gets the jitters in a crosswind.
Many Adam buyers will opt for the Vauxhall purely on looks alone. But this is one car you really do have to take for a test drive if you are planning long journeys at high speed. Oh, and the rattling dashboard mentioned yesterday? My iPod in the glovebox!
Jeremy I’m in Italy for a Ferrari press conference and have noted that the country is full of small, madly driven cars. Yes, there are Fiat 500s by the legion but the Italians seem to have embraced the small car ethos in every shape and form. They still drive them with wild abandon though, that will never change.
Just what Italians would make of my purple Vauxhall Adam I wouldn’t like to guess. With black, 17-inch alloys, purple leather trim and a dash of chrome, I imagine it would have the same effect as a leggy blonde crossing the piazza at lunchtime.
It had the same impact on me when I first saw it. Distinctly different and a designer’s dream. The drive to Heathrow yesterday was therefore something of a disappointment. I could forgive the 1.4 for feeling a tad underpowered but the little Adam failed to sparkle on some fast, winding A-roads.
It felt sloppy when driven hard into corners and the steering was, at times, vague. There is also an incredibly annoying rattle coming from somewhere around the glovebox. I’m going to have to remove my belongings and see if it is the car, or if it is my fault. I suspect it is the former.
High-speed motorway driving isn’t the Adam’s strongest point but with some hefty right foot and a gear-change on steeper inclines, I was able keep up with the flow. It’s at its best around town though, posing in the High Street.
The Adam is such a pretty, distinctly different car I want it to be a winner for Vauxhall. Let’s see what tomorrow brings…