Parkers overall rating: 3 out of 5 3.0

There’s a range petrol and diesel engines providing varying levels of Vauxhall Cascada performance.

Petrol engines

Kicking off the petrol line-up is a 1.4-litre turbocharged engine with 138bhp and 219Nm of pulling power. This engine is only available with a manual gearbox.

Top engine in the petrol line-up at launch is the 1.6-litre ECOTEC turbo, which generates 168bhp and a generous 280Nm of pulling power, taking the Cascada from 0-60mph in 9.2 seconds and on to a top speed of 135mph. It’s available only with a six-speed automatic gearbox.

A high-performance version of the new 1.6 SIDI turbo engine will make its world premiere at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show.

With 200PS, 300Nm torque and a top speed of 146mph available, the new engine is one of the newly-designed Vauxhall four-cylinder SIDI (Spark Ignition Direct Injection) units and can be ordered from October 2013.

Diesel engines

The diesel options start with a 2.0-litre CDTi 163bhp unit available with either a manual or automatic transmission.

The best performance figures come from the 2.0-litre Bi-Turbo diesel engine with 192bhp and a manual gearbox. This variant is capable of 0-60mph in 8.9 seconds and a top speed of 143mph.

We drove the Cascada with the 163bhp 2.0 CDTi diesel engine and six-speed manual gearbox. Its typical diesel sound at idle seems at odds with the Cascada’s intended suave image, but on the move it turns into a smooth, fairly quiet powerplant that’s also very flexible – but the noise never fully subsides and it doesn't feel as lively as you'd hope.

The gearchange is light and smooth, although the positioning of the centre arm-rest made accessing the gearlever awkward for this tester.

While you can tell the Cascada is a long, heavy car that’s had its roof chopped off, it nonetheless makes a pretty decent fist of things on the handling front. It’s much stiffer than Vauxhall’s last convertible - the Astra TwinTop - thanks to extra underbody strengthening and it has a comfortable, assured gait on the road.

It feels somehow wrong to drive it in anything other than a relaxed manner, but if you do feel yourself overcome with the urge to drive with gusto you’ll find that it’s a grippy, assured car - though the payoff is a firm ride. The steering is heavier than you might expect and it certainly isn’t brimming with feedback, but it feels accurate and true at speed.

Its front suspension is borrowed from the high-performance Insignia VXR model and Vauxhall’s ‘FlexRide’ adaptive damping system can be specified as an option.

This allows the driver to switch between three settings – Tour is the softest and Standard the middling default setting, while Sport stiffens the dampers, weights up the steering, sharpens the throttle response and will also illuminate the instrument panel in red for a sportier atmosphere, if you like. The same system is also available on the Vauxhall Astra and Insignia.

Overall, however, the Cascada feels best suited to loping along in a laid-back way.