In years gone by, Volvos were known as boxy, square lumps -- reliable and safe, perhaps, but never styling trendsetters. The Swedes finally joined the styling parade in the late '90s with the introduction of the slightly more curvaceous Volvo C70. Available as a coupe or convertible, the two-door C70 shared much of its underlying hardware with the S70 sedan of the time. Detail improvements through the years -- including trim level and color changes, and minor engine upgrades with low- and high-output turbo options -- kept the first-generation C70 fresh enough for its relatively low volume of customers.
A fully redesigned Volvo C70 debuted for 2006, and it was a whole new ball game. Rather than offering separate coupe and convertible models, Volvo decided to join the herd again and offer a handsome new retractable hardtop that opens and closes at the touch of a button. Fortunately, the attractive shape of the first C70 has largely carried over to the second. The C70 is no sports car, but it should appeal to those who want style and comfort in a luxury convertible.
Current Volvo C70
The 2012 Volvo C70 is a four-passenger luxury convertible with a retractable hardtop. It comes in a single trim level. Standard highlights include 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, eight-way power front seats, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and an eight-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, HD radio, an iPod/USB audio interface and an auxiliary audio jack. A couple of option packages are available that add items such as rear parking sensors, keyless ignition/entry, a navigation system, an upgraded audio system, heated front seats, 18-inch alloy wheels and adaptive bi-xenon headlights.
The Volvo C70 is based on the same platform used for the recently discontinued compact S40 sedan and V50 wagon. For power, the C70 relies on a turbocharged 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder engine developing 227 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels through a five-speed automatic with manual shift control. When the C70's steel roof is up, it gives the car coupelike styling, added rigidity and better noise isolation than a soft top. When the roof is powered down, the C70's dual-hinged trunk lid opens in a reverse motion and the roof pieces arc backward and stack inside the trunk. Overall, the process is seamless and takes about 30 seconds to complete.
Though acceleration is certainly not blistering, the turbocharged engine provides enough low-end torque to get the C70 moving briskly from a stop and to allow easy passing and merging at highway speeds. If you're looking for sports car handling you're bound to be disappointed, as the steering feels a bit numb and the suspension allows a good deal of body roll when pushing the car hard on a curvy stretch of asphalt. However, most convertible shoppers will likely find the C70 to be a pleasant experience, as it feels solid and provides a compliant ride over the bumps and ruts. With the top up, the cabin is luxury car quiet, and the breeze is well-controlled with the top down.
Our editors agree that consumers interested in a comfortable four-passenger convertible should take a close look at the Volvo C70 T5. Though it may not be quite as fun to drive as its European and Japanese competitors, a strong case can still be made for the C70 given its attractive design, lower price, long list of safety equipment and comfortable ergonomics.
Used Volvo C70 Models
The present second-generation C70 debuted in 2006. Notable changes since then include a slight power bump in '08 from 218 hp to 227. Prior to '09, Bluetooth was unavailable, and the C70's optional navigation system was not hard-drive-based and lacked some of the current system's features. Volvo also offered a six-speed manual transmission from 2006-'10.
The first-generation C70 appeared in 1998 as part of Volvo's effort to polish its brand image with a bit of style and desirability. Two models, a two-door coupe and a two-door convertible with a traditional soft top, were initially available. This first C70 was comfortable and competent, with attractive and elegant styling, but we found its uninspiring underpinnings made it a rather bland car to drive, particularly in comparison to hotter European coupes or convertibles. For power, Volvo installed either a 236-hp turbocharged inline five-cylinder engine or a less powerful 190-hp version.
Minor equipment changes carried the Volvo C70 through its first few years. The 190-hp engine was originally available on the coupe but then dropped in 2001. The high-output engine wasn't available on the convertible until 2000. In 2003, Volvo discontinued the C70 coupe; convertible production ended after 2004. At the time, we found the C70 to be generally desirable, though its dated underpinnings put it at an increasing disadvantage against fresher competitors as the years went on, especially in terms of handling performance.