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Car reviews - Volvo - C70 - Hardtop Convertible range

Our Opinion

We like
Improved styling, added safety, recent price drop equals better value, trad Volvo safety and security features, comfy seats, luxury cabin ambience, turbo T5’s exhaust
Room for improvement
Some garish optional trim, no four-cylinder petrol engines, dated five-speed auto option, thirsty T5 coupled with its lack of sparkling performance, slow roof operation, small boot with roof inside, dull handling

5 May 2010

NOW this is more like it.

Volvo’s new XC60-inspired nose treatment may not work so well on the latest C30, but the curvier, more voluptuous proboscis is much more successful on the Swedish brand’s convertible offering.

The C70 – released in Australia in late 2006 – has had a bonnet that has always seemed a tad too stunted in profile. But the bolder graphics and more contemporary headlight styling do the trick.

As unlikely as this might sound, the facelift has added luxury droptop gravitas that’s been missing from the convertible hardtop … or, in other words, not having a regular hatch front frees up the C70.

A revised bumper helps out back too, aided by new tail-light lenses that integrate more harmoniously.

The subtle modifications to the dashboard, instrumentation and trim materials mean it’s a hat trick for the C70 facelift, especially considering how much more personalisation is possible due to a wider list of options than before – although the Hagström guitar-inspired console colour scheme that seems so smart on paper ends up just looking dirty. Maybe it only works with Scandinavian light.

Otherwise, it’s pretty much business as usual for the Volvo droptop – from a roof that takes what seems like forever to erect (30 seconds actually), to a cozy, comfy and well made interior that lifts the Volvo above the top-line VW Eos and Peugeot 308 CC lapping at the base C70 S.

But while the cabin is agreeably free of turbulence and wind noise intrusion with the roof down, side windows up and the rear-seat covering deflector in situ, we felt that there was a bit too much road rumble entering the cabin with the top up in coupe mode.

As with all four-seater coupe convertibles, this car feels heavy and compromised by having to carry and store a significant amount of bodywork within its vast tail. There’s also some scuttle shake evident.

Disappointingly, Volvo hasn’t (yet) injected the C70 with more economical powerplants.

We only drove the flagship T5 – with its 169kW/320Nm 2.5-litre turbo five-pot petrol engine mated to a five-speed Geartronic automatic gearbox – yet even that combination is short on fizz.

Certainly, standing acceleration is sufficient, and on the move the Volvo delivers quite strong performance, but there isn’t the kick-in-the-pants wallop we were expecting from a car wearing the T5 badge, and the fairly constant pounding of the go-pedal in order to keep the Volvo on the boil would take its toll at the petrol pump.

Keen drivers won’t relish the muted steering or nose-heavy handling either, although grip is fine and the ride quality AOK on the country Victorian roads we sampled the C70 on.

On the other hand, what were we expecting anyway? No front-wheel-drive convertible hardtop is a total success in the way it drives, and the Volvo is no worse than any of its competitors barring the surprisingly well-resolved (and not too awkwardly styled) Eos.

Thankfully, for the Swedes, the VW’s sheer commonality and rather dowdy dashboard weigh in heavily at this end of the luxury convertible market, to work in this car’s favour.

Plus, it’s a Volvo, and for many people that’s a real bonus. The sturdy sun seeker from Gothenburg is about as sound a convertible as you are likely to find anywhere, thanks to an exhaustive role call of safety and security features that will either prevent or help protect its occupants from a mishap. The MY10 version even goes one better by having an emergency brake light system that warns vehicles behind of a very sudden stop.

Finally, since Volvo lopped off more than $10K from the price late last year, the C70 has carved a niche just above the maelstrom of mainstream chop-tops (as well as the petite luxury ragtops like the Audi A3 Cabrio), but well below the luxury contenders as typified by the BMW 3 Series convertible.

Volvo also expects that Saab’s (hopefully temporary) hiatus from Australia will further shepherd in customers who may have otherwise settled for a 9-3 Convertible.

As a result of all of these, we have no reason to doubt the company’s forecast of shifting between 350 and 400 C70s a year – particularly with its fashionable new nose job to boldly point the car forward into the future.

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