Buick re-ignites the memory of the stunning ’04 Velite concept convertible with its new Euro-built Cascada, below. Road Test Editor Howard Walker takes one for a spin from the Key West to Miami.
Now fast forward 12 years and I’m at the wheel of the spiritual successor to the fab Velite, driving from Key West along the arrow-straight A1-A to Miami in Buick’s brand new Cascada droptop. OK, it’s front-wheel-drive, and packs only half the Velite’s 400 horses. But it’s four-seat, soft-top which Buick is launching at a time when four-seat convertibles are
decidedly thin on the ground. Remember the Chrysler 200. The Toyota Solara. The Volvo C70? All deceased.
Thankfully the Cascada sticks with a canvas top instead of a complex and top-heavy folding metal hardtop. And the top works like a dream, opening or closing in a mere 17 seconds and at speeds of up to 31mph. There are no levers to pull, latches to latch; just toggle a small switch on the center console.
The beauty of the Buick is that unlike say a Mustang or Camaro, it’s a proper four-seater, so family or friends can come along for the ride. OK, those rear pews are a little tight on hip-space and are probably best suited to kids. But a couple of adults will fit for a quick trip to the beach.
Powering the new Cascada is a fuel-sipping 1.6-liter turbocharged inline-4 hooked up to a six-speed automatic. The motor cranks out an eager 200 ponies and features a cool ‘overboost’ feature that amps-up the torque from 207 pound-feet to 221 pound-feet for 10 seconds when you need an extra burst of power for passing.
There wasn’t much passing to be done when we tried out the new Cascada on a drive to Miami last week. Top-down on a chilly Key West morning wasn’t a problem, thanks to the standard seat heaters, heated steering wheel, and furnace-like heater.
For more information about the latest from Buick, please visit http://www.buick.com/cascada-luxury-convertible.html