Buick Cascada: Getting Lost in a Time Warp – Wall Street Journal

April 28, 2016 1:13 p.m. ET

Ageism is a thing. As a young individual I was guilty of undervaluing older people, and now that I am older, I am in turn occasionally undervalued. Especially at the mall, where young clerks apparently cannot see me, as if I were a ninja.

Part of me celebrates my own marginalization. The contempt of youth is healthy and balanced and natural. I and my generation are off to the ice floes, and not a min as well soon.

But prior to I go, I cannot allow pass GM’s subtle ageism along with regard to the Buick Cascada. Hey, you, up in the RenCen in Detroit: I see you. This auto is destined for seniors in the Sunbelt, particularly Florida. One thing we already know concerning senior car-buyers is they do fewer comparison test-drives, regularly one or none. They may thus be unaware just what a trembling relic the Cascada actually is.

And just what if some sun-loving seniors did drive it? After all, it looks fantash: a windshield laid down at the angle of a doorstop; 20-inch wheels; cute little butt. That’s the tragedy of it, the lost opportunity. If GM had built the Cascada on the Alpha platform (Cadillac ATS), and stuck a correct engine in it, well, we wouldn’t be here now, roasting the product-preparation department’s innards over a fire.

As a critic I have actually praised the brand-new GM, Yet my regard for management rests solely on my conviction that they have actually turned the page. The Cascada is right from the old GM playbook. It’s practically a PTSD flashback.

And just what happens if these consumers need to walk across the auto-mall plaza and test-drive a Cadillac ATS that, compared along with the Cascada, feels adore the job of extraterrestrial intelligence? GM—indeed, the entire automotive world—has actually come so far due to the fact that the bankruptcy. Why the backsliding here?

Do they believe seniors won’t notice?

I submit the adhering to discovering it disqualifies me from being the CEO of a auto company. Sometimes you have actually to leave cash on the table. I don’t doubt the business case for the Cascada (kas-KATA) is strong. The four-seat cabriolet looks tremendous and constantly has, ever due to the fact that it gained its debut in 2013 as the soft-top version of the Opel Astra (Opel is a subsidiary of GM).

Built on the previous generation of GM’s front-drive Delta platform, the Buick Cascada has actually engineering-design roots that reach spine to 2010. Also, Cascada production has actually moved from Rüsselsheim, Germany, to Gliwice, Poland. The production tooling is paid for and labor merely got much cheaper.

Meanwhile, there are Buick dealers in South Florida along with their tongues hanging out to get hold of these cars. These points are retirement-village Lamborghinis.

Besides, why not? auto makers routinely phase products in and from regional markets, so that two or even three generations of a auto could be selling in various sections of the globe at any sort of provided time.

In any sort of event, the picture I’m painting is of the easiest product-preparation decision ever made, the happiest of balance sheets, sweet honey from the rock. What’s the harm in rebadging and selling a couple of thousand of these points to some nice individuals in Arizona and Florida, and maybe some rental auto agencies in Hawaii? Due to the fact that the Cascada does not represent GM’s ideal practices and, postbankruptcy, only their ideal job need to be afield.

I mean, hard-core, starting along with bailout-vintage center-stack controls for navi-audio and climate, comprising three tiers of soft-touch, flush-mounted bafflement, four rotary controllers, along with the crazy Pontiac red backlighting, which is great if you are producing film. These were poor even in the poor old days. Above the focus stack is a 7-inch LCD screen, small and partially obscured at the bottom. The driver write-up focus display between the gauges is early Hewlett-Packard to perfection.

The Cascada is a time capsule of GM switchgear, including just what ought to be the last of the conventional key-lock ignitions in the column. The Cascada has actually remote starting, Yet not a keyless, push-button starter? Keyed ignition switches need to have actually been retired from GM products years ago, for obvious reasons; they weren’t for reasons merely as obvious.

GM would certainly argue this makes the Cascada a lot more accessible. Yet at the $37,000 fee point, the Cascada is nose-to-nose along with the Ford Mustang EcoBoost Premium, every one of hopped up on 310-hp and weighing 300 pounds much less compared to the Cascada.

The object of this enterprise is the convertible top, which functions merely fine, once you find out the flippy parcel shelf flap in the trunk. The top is noise-insulated and retracts under the rigid mechanized tonneau in 17 seconds at speeds of 31 mph.

The biggest issue along with the top is the weight of the structural reinforcements it required, including an underbody X-brace; a reinforced “torsion box” section in the rear; bigger, more powerful edge sills; and a welter of welds, gussets and brackets.

The added bracing adds hundreds of pounds compared along with the sister coupe, the Opel Astra GTC. (Counter-intuitively, perhaps, convertibles are regularly heavier compared to their coupe counterparts as a result of the weight of top mechanism and these reinforcements. In the Cascada’s case there are Likewise pyrotechnically deploying roll hoops behind the rear headrests.) Cascada’s curb weight is listed at an outrageous 3,979 pounds, 811 pounds a lot more compared to the Euro-spec Astra GTC.

Dynamically, the Cascada never ever had a chance. Sitting sideways under the hood is a 1.6-liter turbocharged, direct-injection in-line four, pedaling the front wheels through a rather dated six-rate automatic. Four-thousand pounds divided by 200 hp concerns a rather well-marbled twenty pounds per horsepower. The Cascada comes off the line adore an arthritic bloodhound comes off the couch as quickly as called—painfully, noisily, yet eager to please. Figure 0-60 mph in 8.6 seconds, Yet a person will certainly report you to the SPCA.

And it doesn’t even ride gently, thanks to its 20-inch rims and thin tires, which are mostly for cosmetics.

But boulevardier? That it does, handsomely. It’s comfortable. The seats are climate controlled and the steering wheel is heated. I totally get hold of why a car-agnostic senior wouldn’t fret that their sassy brand-new Buick convertible—the very first in 25 years, by the way—isn’t state of the art. Neither are they.

But Buick knows better.