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2007 Volvo C70 Coupe-vertible Review

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

2007 Volvo C70

It used to be that if you wanted a coupe, you bought a coupe. If you wanted a convertible, you bought a convertible. If you wanted both, well, your garage had better hold two cars. Such was life with the first-generation Volvo C70, with a coupe introduced in 1998 and a convertible shortly thereafter. The C70 hinted at new directions for the Swedish automaker, both in style and intent. But in many ways it was the last of the old Volvos, as it was the last to debut before the current design language was unveiled in the 1998 S80.

The second-generation C70 holds the same position in the Volvo lineup as the first, and is two cars in one, as its three-piece steel roof can, with the touch of a button, disappear into the trunk, turning it from a coupe to a convertible. It holds four people, and there is still enough trunk space with the top down for a long weekend for two. Top-up, it can hold skis. It's equally handsome top-up or top-down, and both sporty and refined


Introduced last year, the new C70 heads into its second year with only minor changes. The audio system now has an auxiliary input jack for an MP3 player or iPod, and the CD player has MP3CD playback capability. Sirius satellite radio is a new standalone option.

Power, 218 horses worth, is from Volvo's light-pressure turbocharged and intercooled version of its 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder engine, which drives the front wheels through a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission. All of the safety equipment expected in a Volvo is standard, including a rollover protection system.

Safety and fun are not mutually exclusive, and the 2007 Volvo C70 offers a comfortable and enjoyable driving experience in addition to safety. It's also a practical year-round car, as the steel top insulates passengers from the elements as well as that of any hardtop when the weather turns foul. My week with the C70 was typical of Fall, with a mix of cool sunshine and cold rain. No problem there, the car was pleasant top-down when the sun was out, and snug and dry come rain. It's a fine sport-luxury coupe, and a fine sport-luxury convertible, all in one package.

APPEARANCE: If, with the original C70 Volvo first "threw away the box and kept the toy", the toy is further-developed in its second generation. With its strong, broad shoulder line, protruding V-shaped hood, and small rounded-trapezoid grille there can be little doubt as to the maker. All of the contemporary Volvo styling cues are prominently displayed on a car that is slightly lower, shorter, and wider than the old model. With the top disappearing into the trunk space, the new C70's lines and proportions are clean and stylish with the top up or down.

COMFORT: In its interior style, the C70 owes more to the smaller S40 and V50 than any other current Volvo thanks to the aluminum-faced free-standing center console. It looks like a piece of high-end Scandinavian audio equipment, and established the "Scandinavian modern" design motif - visually simple, relaxing, and functional. The seats are a little different from those in other Volvos, but just as comfortable, with power adjustment in front and, for a coupe, generous rear room. The standard covering material is an interestingly-textured synthetic called "Haverdal Flextech", with leather inserts. The top is raised and lowered in about 30 seconds with the touch of a button, no manual latching or unlatching necessary. Top-up, the C70 is as snug and quiet as any other sport-luxury coupe; top-down there is just enough wind for a pleasant experience, with minimal buffeting. Despite the top being stored in the trunk, there is a useful six cubic feet with the top down, and a useful divider with safety interlocks acts as a template for top-down storage. The stowed top can be moved upwards about eight inches for luggage access. Top-up, there is a generous 12.8 cubic feet of trunk space, with a ski passthrough.

SAFETY: The C70 features all of Volvo's safety systems, with modifications to compensate for its lack of a fixed roof. Hydroformed A-pillars made of extra-high strength steel and the Roll-Over Protection System (ROPS) electronically-controlled pop-up roll bars normally hidden behind the rear seats provide structural protection in the even of a rollover. To further compensate for the lack of a permanent top and full-height B-pillars for side protection, the lower B-pillars and floor structure have been modified, as has the Side Impact Protection System (SIPS), with a door-mounted side curtain in addition to the front and side front-seat airbags. The car's structure is designed to progressively deform in a collision from any direction to protect passengers. Strong four-wheel antilock disc brakes with emergency brake assist and the Dynamic Stability and Traction Control system (DSTC) add active safety.

RIDE AND HANDLING: Volvo has been working on suspension calibration and refinement, to good effect. The C70's unibody structure is based on Volvo's mid-size P1 platform, and has commendable rigidity even with the top down; with the top in place it's even better. The fully-independent MacPherson strut front, multilink rear suspension is tuned perfectly for the car's sport-touring mission, firm enough for minimal body motion in hard maneuvering, yet supple enough for long-distance comfort. Steering effort is moderate and appropriate.

PERFORMANCE: Every U.S.-spec C70 comes in T5 trim, named after the turbocharged and intercooled five-cylinder engine. It's a long-stroke, twin-cam, 20-valve aluminum alloy design in a moderate state of tune. If its ultimate power - 218 bhp at 5000 rpm - is less than the old C70 coupe's R-spec 236, it's much more useful in everyday driving. Unlike the R, which had all the urge concentrated at the top, this engine has a broad spread of power. Maximum torque, 236 lb-ft, is developed from 1500 through 4800 rpm, nearly the entire useful powerband. With that sort of midrange, downshifting is pretty much optional when acceleration is wanted. But when it is time to shift, the six-speed gearbox is a pleasure to use, with light, progressive clutch action and fine shift linkage. The optional automatic should have a minimal effect on performance. I averaged 21 mpg in fast highway and city driving.

CONCLUSIONS: The Volvo C70 convertible coupe is two very fine cars in one.


Base Price			$ 39,090
Price As Tested		$ 40,780
Engine Type			dual overhead cam turbocharged
				 and intercooled 20-valve
				 inline 5-cylinder
Engine Size			2.5 liters / 154 cu. in.
Horsepower			218 @ 5000 rpm
Torque (lb-ft) 			236 @ 1500-4800 rpm
Transmission			6-speed manual
Wheelbase / Length		103.9 in. / 180.4 in.
Curb Weight			3,743 lbs.
Pounds Per Horsepower		17.2
Fuel Capacity			16.4 gal.
Fuel Requirement		91 octane unleaded premium gasoline
Tires				P235/40 ZR18 Pirelli P-Zero Rosso
Brakes, front/rear		vented disc / disc, ABS and EBD standard
Suspension, front/rear		independent MacPherson strut /
				  independent multilink
Drivetrain			transverse front engine,
				 front-wheel drive

EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon
    city / highway / observed		20 / 29 / 21
0 to 60 mph				7.0  sec

18-inch wheels and tires		$ 995
Destination charge			$ 695