2008 Volvo C70 T5 Convertible Review


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THE AUTO PAGE
By JOHN HEILIG

SPECIFICATIONS - Volvo C70 T5 convertible

Model: Volvo C70 T5 convertible
Engine: 2.5-liter turbocharged 5-cylinder
Horsepower/Torque: 227 hp @ 5000 rpm/236 lb.-ft. @ 1500-4800 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic with manual mode
Wheelbase: 103.9 in.
Length x width x height: 180.4 x 71.7 x 55.1 in.
Tires: P215/45R18
Cargo Volume: 12.8 cu. ft.
Fuel Economy: 18 mpg city/26 mpg highway/20.1 mpg test
Fuel Capacity: 15.9 gal.
Sticker Price(MSRP): $43,535 (includes $745 destination charge and $3,550 in options)

The Bottom Line: The Volvo C70 convertible is a beautiful package, if pricey. Here’s a car that begs to be driven like a sports car. It’s heavy for a sports car and the power-to-weight ratio doesn’t work, but everything else does – the feel, the handling and the ambience.

Unfortunately, I’m old enough to remember when Volvos were boxy, rather unattractive cars. There was, of course, the P1800, but that was an anomaly.That era has, fortunately, passed.

Today, Volvos have a sense of style that rivals all other “normal” automakers.

Oh, they retain their “Volvoness,” but it’s in a new design idiom that’s pleasant to the eye while retaining Volvo’s reputation for safety and solidity.

Our tester is the Volvo C70 convertible. It comes in one trim level, T5, which includes a turbocharged five-cylinder engine, ABS, traction control, front side airbags and Volvo’s WHIPS whiplash protection system. Our transmission was a 6-speed automatic with a manual mode, although the manual mode (operated by pushing or pulling the gear lever) is not as convenient as steering wheel-mounted paddles.

Even with the turbocharger, the engine puts out only 227 hp. This is great for normal use, but the C70 looks and feels so much like a sports car that the engine’s output seems too low.

The C70 is a car that begs to be driven like a sports car, but it’s too heavy and the engine isn’t sporty enough for the power-to-weight ratio. Despite these minor drawbacks, the C70 is sporty enough for normal driving and to give the driver and passengers a kick on good winding roads.

What’s non-sports car about it is the fact that it’s a four-seater, and by definition, sports cars have two seats. Well, posh. The rear seats are barely adequate for adults, but with the front seats pushed forward a bit they’re okay. We put children back there and they had a ball. They specifically enjoyed watching the top go down and up and enjoyed all the fresh air.

The hard top mechanics are fascinating. Through a combination of motors, strings (or wires), servos and ingenious mechanics, the C70 transforms from a coupe to a convertible in a matter of seconds. There were times I thought I dropped the top just to watch it operate.

With the top down there’s very little wind buffeting, as there is in most convertibles. In general, the C70 is a quiet car with the top up with minimal outside noise intruding into the passenger compartment.

The front seats are comfortable with decent side support. My wife and I found the seats to be comfortable, although some people we talked with said they thought the seats were narrow. The rear seats were adequate, but they are not really designed for long trips by six-footers.

I felt the audio was barely adequate since it didn’t pull in my favorite stations from 60 miles away. Tone was good and the other stations were okay, but I can’t stand to listen to some of the garbage stations broadcasting these days, so most of the time we drove in silence. Yes, we could have inserted a CD, but we didn’t.

The HVAC system was excellent in cooling mode. We didn’t get to use it in heating mode.

Volvo stylists have incorporated the now Volvo-standard thin center stack in the C70. The stack holds the audio and HVAC controls and also offers some storage behind it. We liked the simple audio and HVAC controls that didn’t require a quick search through the owner’s manual to figure them out.

In addition, there are audio and cruise control switches on the steering wheel.

I liked the instrument panel with white-on-black dials that resembled the old Jaeger instruments on classic cars.

For drinkers there are two cup holders in the center console plus a bottle holder in the doors. The center console/arm rest itself is deep and holds enough.

The trunk has a dual personality. With the top up, the cover can be shifted and the capacity (listed as 12.8 cubic feet) is huge (at least compared to my old MGA). With the cover in place to lower the top, capacity is drastically reduced. We did put some flatter items under the cover before we lowered the top, but there’s always the risk that the warning light will come on. So when you shop, do it with the top up.

While the C70 looks like a sports car, the performance is a tad below what we would expect from a true sports car. However, it still gets sports car second looks from pedestrians when the top’s down, and it feels like a solid Volvo with the top up.

2008 The Auto Page Syndicate

Complete specifications on the 2008 Volvo C70 T5 and other vehicles are available at the New Car Buyers Guide!

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