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Car reviews - Volvo - C70 - 2.3 coupe

Our Opinion

We like
Styling, smooth and powerful engine
Room for improvement
High city fuel consumption

5 Jul 2001

IT seems like Volvo's C70 has been around a long time. As the spearhead product of the new face of Volvo, it and its British designer, Mr Peter Horbury, became the most hyped combination to ever remove their cardigans.

The C70 was the car that was going to change Volvo's staid, conservative image forever and breathe new life into the Swedish car-maker.

In Mr Horbury's own words, with the C70 Volvo "threw away the box and kept the car".

Now, almost two years since it was first shown at the Paris motor show in September, 1996, the car is finally on Australian roads and it was time to find out if there was substance behind the style.

It is important to realise with the C70 that it is not a sports car and does not set out to be one.

Volvo puts it into the category of sporting coupes in the tradition of the grand tourer and here it sits very well.

A smooth, powerful, turbocharged, 20-valve, five-cylinder, 2.3- litre engine sits beneath the expansive bonnet driving the front wheels.

The engine is quick to respond to a light touch of the accelerator pedal and plenty of low-down torque provides a strong surge off the mark.

There is no hint of turbo lag and the engine seems to get an extra boost as the tacho climbs above 3500rpm as a nice low note emanates from beneath the bonnet.

But there is a price to pay for the engine's performance with an alarmingly high city fuel consumption.

The automatic triple mode transmission provides almost imperceptible shifts and is quick to drop down in sports mode.

The steering is well weighted and provides positive feedback through the wheel, although it could be a bit sharper and more direct.

If there is one major area where the car is let down it is in ride comfort.

The firm suspension means the handling is predictable and the car corners flat and stable.

On a smooth, open country road - or the better quality European tarmacs - this translates into an enjoyable driving experience which tends to eclipse any shortcomings in the ride department.

But for the day to day, work to home trip on rough suburban roads, the suspension makes its presence felt with a harsh, joggly ride that communicates every bump and ripple through the low profile 45 aspect tyres into the seat of your pants.

The power leather seats are supportive and do help a bit to dampen the suspension failings but it is best to avoid tram tracks and patchwork tarmac.

From the driver's seat, the feeling is that you are behind the wheel of a fairly large car and not being able to see any of the four corner extremities adds to this perception. It also makes parking a bit of a hit and miss affair.

Inside, the C70 is a full four-seater with good rear leg and shoulder room for an average sized adult. However, the low roof line makes rear headroom extremely tight, making a long journey uncomfortable. Access to the rear seats is also a slow affair as you wait for the power front seat to inch its way forward.

Storage space around the cabin is minimal - the door bins and glovebox are tiny.

Equipment levels are high with every imaginable convenience to ease your journey including one of the best audio systems - complete with a three-stack in-dash CD player - on the market.

Overall, the C70 works well and has certainly given Volvo an image leader to hang its new direction on.

The style and performance are up there with the competition - all of which deserve a look with strengths and shortcomings in different areas. But fix the suspension and Volvo could be on a winner.

- Automotive NetWorks 05/07/1999

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