Opel's Cascada convertible signals a possible Buick in North America
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Opel, General Motors' financially embattled European unit, has revealed its new midsize Cascada convertible in a series of photos. The car goes on sale in early 2013.
The two-door soft top, which is widely expected to be sold in North America by the Buick brand, enters the Opel lineup as a replacement for the Astra TwinTop. The Cascada takes some of its styling inspiration from the range-topping Opel Insignia.
Unlike its predecessor, which used a folding metal hardtop, the Cascada uses a fabric roof that can be opened in 17 seconds-both remotely at standstill via a button on the key fob and at speeds up to 30 mph via a dashboard-mounted switch.
At 184.9 inches long and 72.8 inches wide, the Cascada is one inch longer and wider than the four-door Astra sedan and its U.S. counterpart, the Buick Verano.
Opel is making much of the Cascada's dimensions, pointing out that it is longer than the Audi A5 convertible, the suggestion being that the Cascada will offer more metal for the money than premium-brand convertibles. Official pricing has yet to be announced, although Opel says the Cascada will be priced higher than the Astra TwinTop, in a move reflecting upper-market aspirations.
With the roof raised, trunk capacity is put at 12.4 cubic feet, or just 2.8 cubic feet less than the Astra sedan. With the roof stowed, storage space is cut to 9.9 cubic feet. However, Opel says it will offer an optional FlexFold system that uses an electronic mechanism to fold the rear seats in a 50:50 split, creating more cargo room.
Among the chassis developments is a front suspension modeled closely on that used by the Insignia. It uses geometry that is claimed to reduce torque steer as part of what General Motors dubs Hi-Per.
Opel has confirmed there will be three four-cylinder engines available in the Cascada at the start of European sales, with more to come in the future.
Turbocharged gasoline units include a 138-hp 1.4-liter Ecotec and a new 168-hp 1.6-liter direct injection Ecotec, the latter of which is set to form the basis of a new engine-downsizing strategy recently unveiled by Opel. Joining them will be a 165-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter common-rail diesel. Gearbox choices include a six-speed manual and six-speed automatic.
While GM has yet to officially confirm whether the Cascada will be offered in North America, Opel sources suggest it has already met with approval from high-ranking U.S.-based officials.
"[CEO] Dan Akerson was so thrilled about the Cascada that he asked: 'Why don't we bring it to the U.S,'" was how one insider summed up the reaction about the new Opel to Autoweek, an affiliate of Automotive News.
Opel originally planned to launch the Cascada in both convertible and coupe body styles. However, the coupe has been placed on hold due to GM's financial situation and falling sales in most major markets it is represented.
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