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The Topless Lion

Mick McWilliams
GMInsidenews.com
Australia Correspondent

05 January 2016

Daily grind getting you down? Get your top off!
If you're new to the whole topless shebang, here's the Holden Cascada ready and willing to help you along your way.

A 1.6 turbo package with a healthy dose of style and comfort, the Cascada is GMs truly global convertible. It even comes in Left AND Right Hand drive.....





We dig it:
One of the best styled mid size convertibles
Quick and easy roof action
Great seats
Rorty little turbo
42k starting price

Needs Work:
Multitude of buttons required to operate the non-touch screen
Manual adjustment on seats (for this spec)
Rear blindspot is segment typical but still annoying


More pics on Instagram: #TOPLESSLION
 

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But no matter how good a vehicle it is it only comes in boring colours! There is not a bright colour available or even a red!
Summit White is a no cost option! The other colours - Nitrate Silver, Deep Sky Blue, Phantom grey and Carbon Flash Black are all "available at extra cost".
I hope they sell but really is this encouraging people to buy a supposedly 'fun car'.
 

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That's true but it's the safest way.... particularly if it is a loner, and I'm not going to advise on how fast you can do it! Read the manual and make your best judgement. ;)

Also, I can open and close it in an underground car park, but I'm not telling you which one.
 

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Nice review Mick.

Having recently bought the competition, it was interesting to hear your views. Due to the fact that Holden did not seem interested in selling me one in June (the first ones had just arrived), the Cascada was never really an option for us.

A few counterpoints:

Having lived with a MY15 A3 convertible for 6 months now, I find the look of the Cascada bloated and a bit boat like in comparison. If you are having trouble picking the Golf from the A3, you are most likely looking at a MY13 A3 or earlier - the later models have a significantly longer boot.



I also find the interior of the Cascada more fussy - too many knobs. I like the Audi better. Having said that I prefer my Commodore over both of them.



You motivated me to check the roof time on the Audi - 22 seconds both down and up - so the Cascada wins there.

It sounds like the Cascada has a more grunty note than the Audi and more sporty response and handling. The A3 drives like a Camry around town, but does not get a lot more exciting when pushed. Mind you, I'm comparing it to an SV6, a WRX and a Lancer Ralliart so it does not have the sporty pretense they all have

You didn't mention fuel economy, but the Audi does pretty well here. Even when driven by my notoriously lead footed wife, the 1.4L TFSI petrol still gets 6.5l/100km around town.

There are a few things Audi do better than Holden to encourage customer loyalty - like a personally handwritten Christmas card from the saleswoman who sold her the car, and a quarterly glossy magazine mailed to your home. They are playing catchup in the servicing area though - the dealer we bought it from has realised the value of fixed price servicing but Audi as a whole have no fixed services.
 
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Fortunately there are much more attractive wheel options here.

Pretty good I suppose, but I'd SO spring for a new Camaro convertible instead.
For comparison, the Mustang 2.3 I4 vert in Oz is 55k. A 5.0 is 67k so there is a significant cost difference there. They are very much in a different segment as would the Camaro be if it was made in RHD.
 

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You do not need to stop to take down and fold up the roof...
In the interests of longevity, we try to only raise or lower the roof when stopped.
 
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Pretty good I suppose, but I'd SO spring for a new Camaro convertible instead.
No one tries to drive a Camaro year round out here in Podunk.
The weather's actually been pretty good but all the pony cars have disappeared.
 

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Nice review Mick.

Having recently bought the competition, it was interesting to hear your views. Due to the fact that Holden did not seem interested in selling me one in June (the first ones had just arrived), the Cascada was never really an option for us.

A few counterpoints:

Having lived with a MY15 A3 convertible for 6 months now, I find the look of the Cascada bloated and a bit boat like in comparison. If you are having trouble picking the Golf from the A3, you are most likely looking at a MY13 A3 or earlier - the later models have a significantly longer boot.



I also find the interior of the Cascada more fussy - too many knobs. I like the Audi better. Having said that I prefer my Commodore over both of them.



You motivated me to check the roof time on the Audi - 22 seconds both down and up - so the Cascada wins there.

It sounds like the Cascada has a more grunty note than the Audi and more sporty response and handling. The A3 drives like a Camry around town, but does not get a lot more exciting when pushed. Mind you, I'm comparing it to an SV6, a WRX and a Lancer Ralliart so it does not have the sporty pretense they all have

You didn't mention fuel economy, but the Audi does pretty well here. Even when driven by my notoriously lead footed wife, the 1.4L TFSI petrol still gets 6.5l/100km around town.

There are a few things Audi do better than Holden to encourage customer loyalty - like a personally handwritten Christmas card from the saleswoman who sold her the car, and a quarterly glossy magazine mailed to your home. They are playing catchup in the servicing area though - the dealer we bought it from has realised the value of fixed price servicing but Audi as a whole have no fixed services.
That does look much better. The snub tail golf and older Audi look like little boxes on wheels.

WRT fuel economy the Cascada is in the 7-8 l/100km range but a little thirstier around town. As with everything it depends on how you drive it. I am getting reasonably adept at driving economically.

On the handling front, it takes a little extra to balance but there's definitely fun to be had with the Cascada. I've read a few reviews and heard a few people saying there isn't enough power in the 1.6 but I think a 2.0 turbo would over power the front end and make it a little clumsy. As it is, it is on the soft side but perfect for weekend hills and sweeping roads, though not so convincing on fast changes in direction.

In the video I was actually matching speed with a local farmer in a VS ute who was giving it everything. The Cascada just charged along without getting too crazy.
 

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For comparison, the Mustang 2.3 I4 vert in Oz is 55k. A 5.0 is 67k so there is a significant cost difference there. They are very much in a different segment as would the Camaro be if it was made in RHD.
The market that the Cascada is trying to sell into is dominated by the Audi A3 and BMW 1/2 series. These are a good $10K more expensive. The Mini and Renault Megane are about $7K cheaper, and the VW is about the same price.

We bought a demo A3 for around the same price as a new Cascada.
 
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Nice review Mick.

Having recently bought the competition, it was interesting to hear your views. Due to the fact that Holden did not seem interested in selling me one in June (the first ones had just arrived), the Cascada was never really an option for us.

A few counterpoints:

Having lived with a MY15 A3 convertible for 6 months now, I find the look of the Cascada bloated and a bit boat like in comparison. If you are having trouble picking the Golf from the A3, you are most likely looking at a MY13 A3 or earlier - the later models have a significantly longer boot.


You didn't mention fuel economy, but the Audi does pretty well here. Even when driven by my notoriously lead footed wife, the 1.4L TFSI petrol still gets 6.5l/100km around town.

There are a few things Audi do better than Holden to encourage customer loyalty - like a personally handwritten Christmas card from the saleswoman who sold her the car, and a quarterly glossy magazine mailed to your home. They are playing catchup in the servicing area though - the dealer we bought it from has realised the value of fixed price servicing but Audi as a whole have no fixed services.
Errrgghhh! Not the 1.4/DSG combo? Does the engine use oil? Does the gearbox display any inclination not to shift cleanly? if so, I'd strongly advise not keeping it past warranty. Cheap A3s abound secondhand as do Golfs for a good reason. I hope you're running the 504/507 oil and 98 octane, if it develops any fault they'll can the warranty otherwise. Before they did warranty and rebuilt the Missus' Mark VI Golf (third new piston part number, fourth new DI part number in only five years on the market for this motor) they analysed oil and fuel samples and presumably read the ECU to make sure we'd used the kosher stuff - it took eight days to get VW Oz to agree to rebuild the motor. The service manager said 'we've done a few of these......' My missus had been complaining of a noise I presumed was the DSG swapping between gears accelerating in a 45km/h corner the car was taking in about 4th - I wasn't with her until after it was rebuilt - it was pinging it's head off! In very mild conditions! No wonder it melted a piston! Every service, VW had reflashed the ECU.

As the Audi I think has a few more herbs it'd be wise to keep tabs on it. The missus' car was taking a full cup of oil every tankfill @ ~ 800km; 'within spec'. In fact, 750ml per 1000km is 'within spec'. If I had a Holden six doing that'd I'd presume it needed rings and bearings!

It also isn't as economical as you think: we've followed many Audis and Golfs, Tiguans and Polos tenaciously clinging to the middle lane on highways at 93km/h, which is exactly what the missus' car used to do at an indicated 100 (verified on GPS). At indicated 110, we were doing 104 and being tailgated by grannies in Corollas. Again, 'within spec, no can fix' according to the dealer. When you actually drive at the speed limit, the car isn't quite so economical. A real 110 chewed fuel on a trip in good conditions driving NSW-Vic in the 7-8l/100km range, whick looks bad against a simple Cruze 1.4 manual in the 5-6 range at the same speeds. Heavier car, less sophisticated motor running cat's piss ULP. When you add significant quantities of expensive $20 a litre oil to 98 RON costs, the economy becomes a bit less awesome.

When we got the car back at 53,000km with rebuilt motor (exploded 1 month inside warranty, it took 3.5 weeks to get it back......), the gearbox started to misbehave shifting in a straight line. Fortunately we had the Bimmer on the way, and the car was gone within weeks. It took the BMW dealer months to move it. Shortly after we traded it and while overseas, the whole VW DSG/limp-home/death in the Burnley thing happened and secondhand values fell like a stone. We got stitched on the trade by $1-2K but the new car arrived the week we went to Chicago and we didn't want to come home to sell to tyrekickers, the dealer copped kharma for it.

One of my bandmates had a leased Polo diesel that kept going into limp-home mode, often when he was turning in front of oncoming traffic. Went back to dealers six-seven times couldn't fix. He spent a lot of time at 40km/h. The lease company took it back off him, and got their money back off VW.
 

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Errrgghhh! Not the 1.4/DSG combo? Does the engine use oil? Does the gearbox display any inclination not to shift cleanly? if so, I'd strongly advise not keeping it past warranty. Cheap A3s abound secondhand as do Golfs for a good reason. I hope you're running the 504/507 oil and 98 octane, if it develops any fault they'll can the warranty otherwise. Before they did warranty and rebuilt the Missus' Mark VI Golf (third new piston part number, fourth new DI part number in only five years on the market for this motor) they analysed oil and fuel samples and presumably read the ECU to make sure we'd used the kosher stuff - it took eight days to get VW Oz to agree to rebuild the motor. The service manager said 'we've done a few of these......' My missus had been complaining of a noise I presumed was the DSG swapping between gears accelerating in a 45km/h corner the car was taking in about 4th - I wasn't with her until after it was rebuilt - it was pinging it's head off! In very mild conditions! No wonder it melted a piston! Every service, VW had reflashed the ECU.

As the Audi I think has a few more herbs it'd be wise to keep tabs on it. The missus' car was taking a full cup of oil every tankfill @ ~ 800km; 'within spec'. In fact, 750ml per 1000km is 'within spec'. If I had a Holden six doing that'd I'd presume it needed rings and bearings!

It also isn't as economical as you think: we've followed many Audis and Golfs, Tiguans and Polos tenaciously clinging to the middle lane on highways at 93km/h, which is exactly what the missus' car used to do at an indicated 100 (verified on GPS). At indicated 110, we were doing 104 and being tailgated by grannies in Corollas. Again, 'within spec, no can fix' according to the dealer. When you actually drive at the speed limit, the car isn't quite so economical. A real 110 chewed fuel on a trip in good conditions driving NSW-Vic in the 7-8l/100km range, whick looks bad against a simple Cruze 1.4 manual in the 5-6 range at the same speeds. Heavier car, less sophisticated motor running cat's piss ULP. When you add significant quantities of expensive $20 a litre oil to 98 RON costs, the economy becomes a bit less awesome.

When we got the car back at 53,000km with rebuilt motor (exploded 1 month inside warranty, it took 3.5 weeks to get it back......), the gearbox started to misbehave shifting in a straight line. Fortunately we had the Bimmer on the way, and the car was gone within weeks. It took the BMW dealer months to move it. Shortly after we traded it, the whole VW gearbox/death in the Burnley thing happened and secondhand values fell like a stone. We got stitched on the trade by $1-2K but the new car arrived the week we went to Chicago and we didn't want to come home to sell to tyrekickers, the dealer copped kharma for it.
No issue with oil consumption at this stage. I check regularly and after 16,000km does not use a drop. All services will be done on time by Audi so any issues they will have to take responsibility for.

No issue with shifting, but did get a clutch replaced under warranty as it made a noise under light load. My understanding is that the VW and Audi gearboxes are related but not the same. The Audi one has less problems. Audi also warrant the car on 95, although we always use 98.

I understand your point about the speedo, however the fact that after 25 years of no speeding fines, my wife is down to her last 3 points on her licence suggests she is not holding back when she drives. I have done a GPS check and 100km/h is about 97Km/h - about the same as my Commodore.

Our plan is either to turn it over after three years or buy the extended warranty if we decide to keep it longer. We own it outright, so we can decide when we think it fits. I want to keep it in warranty for the roof mechanism as much as anything else. I have a friend who bought a TS Astra with a problem with the roof which cost $4K to fix, so I can only imagine what these fully automatic units would cost. Hence why we always stop before raising or lowering the roof.
 

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IIRC it was the breakaway blocks on the TS which casued the most head aches. Essentially it was an engineered hunk of plastic that was supposed to give if the lid hooks didn't release from the windscreen frame during a retraction. They were a couple of grand for a pair. Some guy in oz made his own business out of being a local source.

A co-worker of mine had the same issue and paid someone to fabricate a replacement which cost less than ordering the part in from the UK.
 

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It sounds like having a flip top box is not worth the hassle! At least you can the Audi in red.
Funny you should say that. I don't drive it a lot (middle aged men in convertibles...) but I took it down to my parents in Frankston at the start of December looking forward to having the roof off. My 13 year old son complained (not for the first time) that it was too hot and wanted the roof back on and the aircon turned up...
 

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IIRC it was the breakaway blocks on the TS which casued the most head aches. Essentially it was an engineered hunk of plastic that was supposed to give if the lid hooks didn't release from the windscreen frame during a retraction. They were a couple of grand for a pair. Some guy in oz made his own business out of being a local source.

A co-worker of mine had the same issue and paid someone to fabricate a replacement which cost less than ordering the part in from the UK.
Every time someone uses IIRC I have to Google it - for some reason it is one TLA (FLA ?) that does not stick in my head...
 

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The market that the Cascada is trying to sell into is dominated by the Audi A3 and BMW 1/2 series. These are a good $10K more expensive. The Mini and Renault Megane are about $7K cheaper, and the VW is about the same price.

We bought a demo A3 for around the same price as a new Cascada.

A week before Christmas Mrs AusCalais and me wandered into the local Holden 'dealership' to have a look at a Cascada... the response: "Oh we sold the one we had... come back after Christmas we might have another then"

This is on top of the let's look at an Astra TwinTop in the showroom at ~4:50pm one afternoon about 3 years ago to be told: "we're closing soon, can you come back tomorrow?"

Which in turn was on top of the the Zafira test drive circa2003 on a Saturday at around midday where we waited for 30 minutes for it to return, only to be told when it came back: "I'm sorry but a staff member has to take it home and it won't be back for the rest of the weekend".

This time around Mrs AusCalais looked me square in the eye and said: "I will never step foot in this place again.... and don't ever talk to me about a Holden again."

The Audi dealer has a different view of the world ... the A3 drives very nicely... that 1.4T COD is one grunty donk.
 
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