Five First Impressions: 2016 Buick Cascada

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The Buick Cascada isn’t the first car to wear multiple badges, but it must wear the most I’ve seen in a good long time.

For readers in Europe, it’s been the Opel Cascada for the last three years. In the United Kingdom, it’s been the Vauxhall Cascada, as is usually the practice. Oh, except in Spain, it’s the Opel Cabrio because calling it the Opel “Waterfall” was a no-go. In Australia, they had no problem calling it the Holden Cascada, however.

Finally, it’s available as a Buick Cascada starting this year, and giving U.S. buyers what we’ve apparently been missing out on for years. Has this Polish-built “American” drop-top worth the wait? We’re driving the Cascada – this one’s a Buick – this week. Here are some initial thoughts.

Now you see me
Those of us who have seen the Cascada in pictures under its various guises will miss the fact it’s still a striking car three years on. Non-car people seeing it for the first time are strangely drawn to it. It is a handsome car, and you can tell it’s not an adaptation of an existing coupe or other fixed-roof car.

Now you don’t
Too bad it’s ergonomically frustrating to be in the Cascada. It’s been a few days now, and I spend most of my time adjusting the seat and steering wheel. And still I feel like a six-year-old pretending I’m tall enough to drive. Even with little quarter windows in the front pillars, pedestrians appear suddenly when I go to make turns. In short, there’s a lot of leaning and neck craning going on.

Quicker folder-upper
One of the reasons that folding hardtops are dying is because fabric ones are so good now. The Cascada’s is well insulated and quickly rises and falls with a conveniently placed switch, with hardly more fuss than raising one of the windows.

Sharp shocks with a soft side
I have driven the Cascada on smooth, straight roads, but this is the first time I’ve taken it on my usual Southern California routes. Every blemish of every heavily heavily traveled road was heard and felt. A constant source of irritation comes from the 20-inch wheels, which already look ambitious on the car, but make too much noise and inflict too harsh of impacts.

Does it matter?
I go back and forth about how much the lack of modern conveniences on the Cascada like push-button entry and start bother me. Blind-spot monitoring, however, feels like a necessity in this car because the view out is bad, bad, bad. At least the mirrors are large. But the Cascada doesn’t feel especially fresh inside, especially when Buick wants to go after the Audi A3 with it. But navigation, heated everything and a solid-ish sound system are all there for a touch over $37,000. There’s a case forming for this car.

The presence of June Gloom means I timed this review well, but maybe there will be some sun while the Cascada is in my care. In the meantime, what else would you like to know? To the comments, everyone.

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