Arguably the most interesting — or at least atypical — Buick in the brand’s lineup, the Cascada was a European creation that wore many badges. And now it’s truly, definitively dead.
Unlike the recent deep-sixing of the Ford Taurus and Chevrolet Cruze, the last Cascada to roll off Opel’s Polish assembly line did so with little fanfare. Perhaps a few autoworkers raised a tallboy of Tatra after work, we don’t know. For Opel parent PSA Groupe, the ceasing of Cascada production is akin to sweeping old cobwebs away in preparation for new wallpaper.
But what a life it had.
With official confirmation that the Buick Cascada will eventually be joining the Lacrosse for an extended dirt nap, General Motors’ “lesser” luxury brand has to make a decision. Will Buick press onward with a limited lineup or will it try and find replacements for North America? Considering Buick’s crossover volume moved from around 30 percent of its U.S. sales volume in 2011 to 84 percent in 2018, the marque likely isn’t worried about replacing unloved models. But it’s also unusual for a luxury brand, even a quasi-luxury one like Buick, to go without at full-size sedan.
Further compounding the issue is GM’s continued repositioning as a crossover, pickup, and EV manufacturer. Sedans are playing an increasingly minor role and, with the company having sold its interest in Opel to France’s Groupe PSA in 2017, it can’t lean on Europe for vehicles anymore. But what about China?
Everyone knew this was coming, but now it’s official. The current model year will be the Buick Cascada’s last.
Hitting dealer (and rental) lots in the U.S. at the dawn of 2016, the Opel-built drop top motivated its two-ton weight with a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder — an engine that gave away the model’s European heritage. With Opel no longer in the hands of General Motors, Americans stand to lose another model that, while perhaps not hugely desirable, is at least interesting and different.
The Buick Cascada, known to Europeans as the Opel Cascada, appeared on North American shores for the 2016 model year, offering buyers (and renters) a pleasant, four-seat replacement for the discontinued Chrysler 200 drop-top.
Now wholly owned by France’s PSA Group, not General Motors, Opel plans to ditch the model once 2019 is up, meaning America stands to lose its last non-sports car convertible. It would also knock the Buick brand down to five models.
By the standards of niche market convertibles, the Buick Cascada is, or at least was, a certifiable hit.
Sales of the Cascada have tumbled by a fifth in 2017, year-over-year. More recently, Cascada sales fell by nearly 40 percent during the height of the summer. But since going on sale at the beginning of 2016, more than 11,000 Buick Cascadas have been sold in the United States. At times, the Buick has even outsold Mazda’s MX-5 Miata. And no, before you draw an entirely incorrect conclusion, hardly any Cascadas have gone into the daily rental mix. More than 99 percent of the Buick Cascadas sold in America were retail acquisitions.
But for its third model year, Buick feels it’s time to spice things up. The Cascada, historically available in very few shades, is getting new paint options for the 2018 model year. Why?
“Color is back,” Buick’s Catherine Black says.
“Buick revealed its Cascada convertible, an elegant four-seater that will go on sale in the USA in the first quarter of 2016. This marks another example of the two brands’ successful collaboration, which already includes the jointly-developed Buick Encore and Opel Mokka, the Buick Verano and Opel Astra notchback as well as the Buick Regal and Opel Insignia,” proclaimed Opel in January 2016, just ahead of the Cascada’s reveal in Detroit.
One paragraph. Four products that intrinsically link Opel and Buick.
It’s no surprise, then, that General Motors’ possible sale of Opel to Peugeot has those in and out of the RenCen wondering: What of Buick?
Front-wheel-drive, soft top, four-cylinder engine, hefty curb weight— the ideal car for the Enterprise Rent-A-Car lot at Miami International Airport?
On sale since January, the Buick Cascada has attracted 6,154 individual U.S. buyers over the last ten months.
According to Buick, General Motors has only seen three Cascadas make their way into fleet use, for a total of 6,157 Cascada sales through the end of October.
Michael Phelps has won more gold medals in the pool at the last four Summer Olympics than the whole Team Canada claimed, across all events, in the last seven.
Despite currently producing more total medals per capita than the American team in Rio, we Canadians can be found suffering from an inferiority complex. And yes, per capita medal counts are the kinds of statistics you can expect from the citizens of a nation that suffer from an inferiority complex.
It doesn’t help that Canada’s new vehicle market, one-ninth the size of the U.S. market, is deemed too small to benefit from one of the planet’s best sports sedan values, the Chevrolet SS.
Yet the Chevrolet SS is by no means the only new vehicle on sale in the United States that doesn’t cross the border.
After years of covering the automotive industry, I’m still amused by the enormous gulf between auto enthusiasts and “real people.” (I’m talking to you, B&B!) We get excited when Honda decides to offer a manual transmission in the V6 Accord, despite the tens of buyers who will come running for it, or General Motors’ confidence to sell the Chevrolet SS here at all. “Real people” like it when there’s a less expensive way to get into a BMW M product, as well as the ability to go into a showroom and walk out the same day with the same nameplate they know and trust.
A great example of this chasm/schism is the Buick Cascada. Here’s how we imagine the reaction of each affinity group:
Auto enthusiasts/press: “Buick’s decided to rebadge an aging Opel and try to pass it off in the United States as The New Thing in the segment abandoned by the Volkswagen Eos and Chrysler 200 convertible?”
Real people: “There’s a convertible Buick now?”