2007 Volvo C70
2007 Volvo C70. Click image to enlarge


Review and photos by Jil McIntosh

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Photo Gallery: 2007 Volvo C70

Oshawa, Ontario – On a sunny day, there are few things more joyous than a convertible. Drop the top, feel the sun shine in, and wonder how on earth we ever thought a sunroof could be enough.

But the traditional soft-top convertible is rapidly being matched by its retractable hardtop cousin. These certainly make sense in Canada, where their more weather-resistant roofs make them viable in all seasons. Over at Volvo, it’s the only type available on the C70.

While all retractables are fascinating to watch, I probably could have charged admission every time I hit the button to start the process on this car. The two-piece trunk opens and slides its panel – one piece forms a tonneau when the roof is down, and tucks up out of the way when it’s up – and then the three roof sections lift off and go into a complicated ballet, with the front-most panel sandwiching in between the other two before everything drops into the trunk for storage. I’m betting there isn’t a technician out there who isn’t dreading the day he has to fix one.

The C70 is based on the S40, itself built on a platform shared with the Mazda3, and is available in North America only as the T5, with 2.5-litre turbocharged inline five-cylinder engine. My tester came with the company’s smooth-as-silk six-speed manual transmission – pushing the clutch pedal is like sinking your foot into butter – but those who don’t like a stick shift can opt for a five-speed automatic with manual shift mode for an additional $1,500.

2007 Volvo C70
2007 Volvo C70. Click image to enlarge

Its premium fuel requirement aside, the T5 is a good, strong engine, making its peak 236 lb-ft of torque between 1,500 and 4,800 r.p.m.; acceleration is strong and very smooth, with no turbo lag, and I never needed to get into the two upper gears unless I was on the highway.

In combined driving, I got 10.5 L/100 km, to the published combination of 9.3 L/100 km. Handling is very sharp and accurate, but the C70 suffers from considerable torque steer, and while those with larger hands won’t have a problem, I found the wheel too thick to be comfortable.

The body is extremely stiff, and there’s no cowl shake; even with the roof down, the C70 feels as tight as most sedans. The brakes have good bite and bring it down from speed swiftly. Twin roll hoops pop up out from behind the rear seats in the case of a rollover, and since the closed roof isn’t considered strong enough to be part of the safety system, the hoops contain heavy-duty steel points, intended to smash out the rear window and support the vehicle if necessary. The rollover system is completed by the front A-pillars, which Volvo says are hydroformed and are strong enough to supplement the roll hoops and protect the occupants. Other safety features include whiplash protection, side air bags, and a door-mounted inflatable cushion that takes the place of a curtain airbag.

The C70 is not a cheap ride – its base price is slightly higher than the six-cylinder Volvo S80, and it’s more than the BMW 328i cabriolet, Volkswagen Eos and Audi TT 2.0. To the starting tag of $56,495, my tester also carried a $5,000 Sport Package, including 18-inch wheels, heated leather seats, bi-Xenon headlamps and auto-dimming mirror, and a very impressive $2,250 Dolby Pro Logic II surround sound stereo, for a total of $63,745 before freight and taxes. As nice as this car is, that’s an awful lot of money.

2007 Volvo C70
2007 Volvo C70
2007 Volvo C70. Click image to enlarge

Stylishly swoopy, the C70 is stunningly gorgeous in three-quarter view from the front or back, but I found the side view to be disproportionate: the doors are shorter than on most coupes, and the car’s resulting long, thick haunches make it look stubby. The payoff is in narrow parking spaces, where opening the door is less likely to result in marking up one’s neighbour. The doors are forgivable, but the hideous black whip antenna stuck on the rear fender is not.

Inside, the C70 is beautifully styled, but like the S40, it features Volvo’s trademark “floating” centre stack. It’s attractive, but its design doesn’t allow for any storage space in front, and the small cubby behind it is difficult to access. There are four separate compartments, two in the doors and two in the panels beside the rear seats, and brilliantly, all four automatically lock when the glove-box lock is turned, so you can leave items in them when the top’s down. Still, there could be some fine-tuning: the rear ones are hinged at the bottom and are easy to use, but the top-hinged front ones require one hand to hold the lids open while you manoeuvre your belongings into them.

Controls for the stereo and climate control are clustered into the centre stack and resemble a television remote; for a car that’s all about safety, they’re too small and they aren’t very intuitive, and they require too much attention from the road. Fortunately, once you’ve got those set, major functions are handled by much larger dials that are easier to use.

2007 Volvo C70
2007 Volvo C70
2007 Volvo C70. Click image to enlarge

Technically a four-seater, the C70 is best for two people; the rear cushions are comfortable, but there’s very little in the way of legroom. Getting into the rear seat is made easier by buttons on the tops of the front seats, which move them forward electrically on their tracks and are simpler than reaching down to use the standard seat controls.

It takes about 25 seconds for the fully-automatic roof to open or close (click here for a video of the roof in action), and the panels fit over top of each other and then store in the trunk. For some strange reason, though, the opening sequence ends with the windows going back up, requiring that you press the window switches to send them back down again. It’s a grievous auto-fashion faux pas to drive with roof open and windows up; if you do this, for the sake of decency, stop it right now.

I’ve heard reviewers driving other C70 examples complain of squeaks and rattles when the roof is up. I didn’t experience any, even on my rough rural roads, but my tester’s roof leaked in the automatic car wash.

2007 Volvo C70
2007 Volvo C70. Click image to enlarge

Because the roof occupies much of the trunk, storage space is limited to a well that’s a fairly generous 79 cm long by 99 cm, and with a maximum depth of 35 cm. Once your cargo is in place, you push down a hard plastic cover, which protects the roof and ensures your items are not above the fill line. Should you need to retrieve something but don’t want to put the roof up, there’s a button that lifts the folded roof up slightly, allowing you to reach in; click here to see how it works.

Like the Audi A3, Mini and New Beetle, the Volvo C70 is a small car with a relatively large price-tag, appealing to a niche group that doesn’t mind paying for the quality and cachet. In the case of the Volvo, there’s the added bonus of open-air motoring with the ability to button it up and drive it in winter as well. But if you’re planning on hanging on to this one for a while, it might be prudent to ask about extended warranty plans: if the roof’s pricey to buy, I can only imagine what one will spend should it ever be necessary to fix it.


Pricing: 2007 Volvo C70

  • Base price: $56,495
  • Options: $7,250 (Sport Package of 18-inch wheels, bi-Xenon headlamps, heated leather seats, mass movement and level sensors, headlamp washers, garage door opener, auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass, retractable side mirrors and rain sensor, $5,000; DynAudio Package of Dolby Pro Logic II Surround Sound processing, 12 DynAudio speakers, 2 subwoofers and Alpine amplifier, $2,250)
  • Freight: $1,615
  • A/C tax: $100
  • Price as tested: $65,460 Click here for options, dealer invoice prices and factory incentives


Specifications

  • Click here for complete specifications


Competitors

  • Audi TT 2008
  • BMW 3 Series 2007
  • Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class 2007
  • Mini Cooper, Cooper S 2007
  • Saab 9-3 2007
  • Volkswagen Eos 2007


Crash test results


Manufacturer’s web site

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