DETROIT – General Motors today unwraps the first convertible for the Buick brand in a quarter-century with the turbocharged 4-passenger Cascada.
Featuring a 1.6L 4-cyl. engine and 6-speed automatic transmission, the ’16 Cascada’s 2+2 configuration will comfortably seat four adults, GM says. It arrives at U.S. dealers in early 2016 as the first Buick droptop since the ’91 Reatta.
“The Buick Cascada is a beautiful, engaging convertible that represents the very best of the brand’s global development practices,” says Duncan Aldred, vice president-Buick.
“It’s a car that will delight customers with its fun spirit and help drive the momentum that’s fueling Buick’s success,” he says in statement ahead of an unveiling here on the eve of the North American International Auto Show.
The widely anticipated Cascada expands Buick’s U.S. portfolio to six models and represents a third all-new compact vehicle for its range.
The retooled lineup, which has shifted focus in recent years from large, plush driving sedans to sporty premium-leaning entries, pushed the brand’s sales up 11.4% in 2014 to 228,963 units, according to WardsAuto data. Last year marked Buick’s biggest sales year since 2006 and capped five years of rising market share.
The Cascada’s 1.6L turbo is part of new family of midsize gasoline and diesel engines rolling out at Opel, which has seen relatively successful sales of the convertible over some 13 months, and one element of GM’s €4 billion ($4.7 billion) reinvestment in the German brand.
The engine, built in Szentgotthard, Hungary, features technologies such as direct injection and variable valve timing to make 200 hp and 206 lb.-ft. (280 Nm) of torque. An “over-boost” feature pushes torque ratings to 221 lb-ft. (300 Nm) for brief spurts of sporty power. The engine also does duty in the Opel Astra compact car and Zafira Tourer MPV.
The Cascada’s Delta 2 global compact-car platform uses GM’s HiPer Strut front-suspension technology to mitigate torque steer and provide more linear, communicative steering. The McPherson-based design also makes for a smoother ride. The rear of the car employs a Watts Z-link suspension, a design noted for its cost-effectiveness and well-balanced performance.
The steering system is a rack-mounted, electric variable-assist rack-and-pinion unit, and the braking system is a 4-wheel disc variety with ABS and stability control. The Cascada rides on 20-in. aluminum wheels.
GM says the car leverages a rigid body structure with high-strength steel fitted to strategic areas, reinforced side sills and press-hardened steel for its A-pillars. The buttoned-up frame enhances the Cascada’s driving experience, the automaker says, contributing to its precise steering, quality ride, quiet cabin and advanced safety.
A 106.1-inch (2,695-mm) wheelbase also adds to the smooth ride and provides rear-seat roominess.
All About That Top, About That Top
However, the primary attraction of the Cascada will be its convertible roof, which drops in 17 seconds and at speeds of up to 31 mph (50 km/h). Expect excellent thermal and acoustic properties to impart driving comfort, GM says.
“(The) Cascada’s driving enjoyment is rooted in technologies that make it more comfortable and refined,” Aldred says. “Its features work harmoniously to provide a safe, connected and confidence-inspiring driving experience.”
Connectivity highlights include Buick’s IntelliLink infotainment and navigation system, which is accessed by a 7-in. (18 cm) color touchscreen. It will receive text-message alerts and uses Siri Eyes Free technology for Apple phones. OnStar 4G LTE with built-in Wi-Fi hotspot is available.
Electronically operated front seats power forward for easier access to the rear seating area, and return to their original position afterward. Telescopic arms slide the front seatbelt assemblies forward to make buckling up easier, and rollover protection bars deploy automatically to protect rear passengers if a rollover possibility is detected.
Other key safety items include lane-departure warning, rear-park assist, a rearview camera and rain-sensing windshield wipers.
The droptop complements what GM calls a “windswept exterior design” accentuated by a sweeping body-side line and sleek headlamps that flow into the front fenders. Buick’s signature “wing-shape” LED daytime running lights deliver a distinctive appearance, GM says.
Chrome trim bridges adorn wing-shaped taillights, which also use LEDs.
The rear decklid opens to accommodate the folding soft top, using an electro-hydraulic system with a multilayer construction that includes acoustic and thermal barriers for 4-seasons comfort.
The cabin of the Cascada features an instrument panel wrapped in soft-touch material and authentic stitching. Heated front seats and a heated steering wheel further enhance comfort in cooler conditions.
The Gliwice, Poland-built Cascada has been expected to join the Buick lineup since it launched as an Opel at the 2013 Paris auto show. The Opel model has been relatively successful, too, racking up 5,600 deliveries in targeted European markets through November 2014. It is the second-best seller in its segment, rivaling the longer-running Peugeot 308 and Renault Megane convertibles.