Cool car of the day: Topless Buick Cascada set to hit markets in 2016

The 2016 Buick Cascada will be the first Buick convertible offered in North America in 25 years.

Let’s be clear about this: The world needs more convertibles.

Topless driving is one of life’s sublime pleasures, but in recent years the once-booming demand for convertibles has dwindled to a tiny fraction of the U.S. auto market. Still, there is nothing like a drive along a winding back road on a warm, sunny day to make one feel alive and in touch with the great outdoors.

Even the best closed-roof sports car or luxury sedan can’t give you the visceral sensations that a convertible delivers.

So any time an automaker announces a new convertible – especially an entirely new model -€” we at the SPEED blog do the Happy Dance.

With that, welcome to the party the totally new 2016 Buick Cascada convertible, which General Motors says will go on sale early next year. "The Cascada will be the first Buick convertible offered in North America in 25 years and the latest globally developed vehicle to join the brand’s growing portfolio," GM officials said in announcing the car.

Considering Buick has had some iconic convertibles in the past -€“ assorted Skylarks, Roadmasters, Electras and Wildcats -€” 25 years is plenty long enough to wait.

Unlike the land yachts of years past, the Cascada is small and efficient, powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine that produces 200 horsepower and drives the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission.

While it’s true the Cascada isn’t a hair-chested muscle car, it looks like it will be fun to drive – as its cousin, the Buick Regal sedan – already is.  Buick promises room inside for four adults, which is a step up from a lot of modern convertibles that have virtually useless back seats.

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You can expect the latest electronic and connectivity advancements to be part of the package, and Buick officials say the top can be lowered in as little as 17 seconds, even while driving at speeds up to 31 miles per hour.

Safety features include rollover protection bars that deploy behind the rear seats when the possibility of a rollover is detected; lane departure warning; rear park assist; rearview camera and Buick’s new Rainsense windshield wipers.

All told, it looks as if Buick’s come up with a winning design here.

"The Cascada’s design blends the suggestion of speed with sophisticated and uncompromising details," said Holt Ware, Buick exterior design director. "Most convertibles are designed from existing coupes or sedans, meaning stowage of the top is an afterthought, but not this Buick. It looks handsome and has a premium appearance when the top is lowered -€“ and a perfect, seamless profile when it’s up."

Now all we need is some warm weather.

The Cascada can fit up to four adults.