Opel Ups the Ante with New Cascada Convertible

General Motors’ Opel unit has released photos of its new midsize Cascada soft top which is scheduled to go on sale early next year. The new model, which is many industry insiders expect will be sold in North America by GM’s Buick brand, will replace the Astra TwinTop. “Cascada” is Spanish for “waterfall” and has been described by the automaker as an “athletic, glamorous midsize convertible.”

In place of the Astra TwinTop’s folding metal hardtop, the Cascada will feature a convertible fabric roof which the automaker says can be fully opened in 17 seconds at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour using either a dash-mounted switch, or a button located on the vehicle’s key fob.

The four-passenger, two-door Cascada is slightly longer and wider than the four-door Astra and some other premium-brand convertibles, including the Audi A5. Opel has not announced pricing for the new Cascada, but has indicated it will be priced higher than the Astra TwinTop.

At 14.4 cubic feet with the top raised, the Cascada will have 2.8 cubic feet less than the Astra sedan.  With the top stowed, trunk space is reduced to 9.9 cubic feet. An optional, electronically controlled split rear seat will be available for buyers who want more cargo space.

The Cascada will be available with three four-cylinder engines when it goes on sale in Europe and Opel has said that it will offer other engine configurations in the future.

The initial engine lineup will include a 138-hp 1.4-liter Ecotec, the brand new 168-hp 1.6-liter direct injection Ecotec, and a 165-hp turbocharged 20.-liter diesel.  Buyers will have the option of a manual or automatic six-speed transmission.

The Cascada’s luxury and high tech features will include ergonomic, heated front seats, a lane departure and forward collision alert system, and Opel Eye, which uses a front-mounted camera to recognize traffic and warning signs.

Although no official plans have been made to bring the Cascada to the U.S., GM CEO Dan Akerson is reportedly extremely enthusiastic about the new model and its potential in the North American market.

Opel had originally planned to make a coupe version of the Cascada, but GM’s current financial situation forced the automaker to postpone offering the additional body style.

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