2016 Buick Cascada first drive: Video


With its new Cascada, Buick is back in the convertible game after a lengthy absence, but all is not what it seems.

This new Buick Cascada droptop, with its clean lines and big wheels, wasn’t penned in California. It wasn’t engineered in Detroit. It wasn’t even built in the heartland.

It is, by all accounts, a European car. Designed by General Motors Company’s [NYSE:GM] Opel division in Germany and assembled in Poland, of all places, the Cascada is decidedly continental in every way.

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For one, its engine isn’t a big and brash American V-6 or V-8. Instead, the Cascada utilizes a downsized 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder rated at a solid 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. Those figures put it on par with Volkswagen’s Eos, the Cascada’s closest rival.

But here’s where things start to seem a little strange. VW, let alone consumers, has essentially forgotten about the Eos and its non-sporty reasonably-priced convertible segment. Chrysler, which owned the market with its Sebring and 200, has dropped out entirely.

Is there really a market for GM to add an Opel with a Buick badge to its portfolio?

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Well, maybe. The brand won’t comment on just how many Cascadas it thinks it will sell. Instead, Buick sees value in having a stylish flagship of sorts to lure customers into its showrooms.

Come in for the Cascada, leave with the Regal—that seems to be the expectation here.

For its part, the Cascada isn’t a bad little droptop, even if it brings little to the table.

It rides on the same platform as the Verano, but Buick says that it, at least as an Opel, was designed to be a convertible from the start.

Getting the look right

Its thickly-lined fabric top folds or raises in about 17 seconds at speeds up to 31 mph with only the press of a button. Simple, effective, and even attractive with the soft top up or down.

Adding to its style are the Cascada’s standard 20-inch alloy wheels, available in a choice of styles. These are big wheels without much tire around them, but the Cascada tips the scales at a plump 4,000 lbs., so its ride is more settled and compliant than expected.

Differing only in the details from the Opel with which it shares its name, the Cascada is clean and stylish from every angle.

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