Photos: Frankfurt auto show, Paul Williams. All others, Volvo. Click image to enlarge
By Paul Williams
Frankfurt, Germany – Think of the cars you like that can be purchased with a fixed roof, or as a
convertible. Aside from the fact that convertibles usually cost a bit more
than hardtops, consumers have been wrestling with this choice between
practicality and fun for years.
But why can’t you have both? Volvo has a solution with its new C70, recently
introduced at the Frankfurt Motor Show. With the 2006 C70, Volvo becomes the
first car company in North America to offer a fully retractable, three-piece
hardtop for a four-passenger car.
As you may remember, the Volvo C70 used to be available as a coupe or a
convertible. Now, according to C70 Project Manager Patrik Widerstrand, you
effectively get two cars in one. Volvo is looking to double the sales of the
C70 as well, from 8,000 to 16,000 vehicles annually (although Canadian sales
are initially expected to reach about 300 cars per year).
Click image to enlarge
But you never know… Volvo Canada may be surprised, as this is very
appealing car. It’s not too big, not too small, built on a proven chassis,
with good power and excellent styling with the top up or down. With the
right pricing (which Volvo Canada promises), sales could exceed
The new Volvo is slightly shorter and sits lower than the outgoing C70.
Following some of the themes in the latest S40/V50 upon which it is based,
the interior was inspired by Scandinavian product design, and a new
synthetic material called Vulcaflex is used in conjunction with textiles and
leather for the upholstery to provide a sleek look and durable surface.
The steel hardtop adds 15% rigidity to the body when the roof is up, but the
car was first designed as a coupe in order to achieve the rounded contours
and overall shape favoured by the designers. Once the coupe form was
approved, the car was adapted to a convertible. The hardtop takes 30 seconds
to fully open or close.
The new C70 is being launched with one engine in Canada, a 2.5-litre,
turbocharged, five-cylinder making 218 horsepower and 236 pounds-feet of
torque. This engine, also found in the S40/V50, features four-valve
technology with dual overhead camshafts and variable camshaft control to
maximize power and reduce fuel consumption and emissions.
A choice of two transmissions will be offered: a five-speed automatic or a
six-speed manual gearbox developed for the high-performance Volvo S60 R and
V70 R. The manual transmission features triple synchronization designed to
provide particularly smooth shifting.
The hardtop for the C70 is distinctive in that it folds in three sections
(necessary because this is a four-seat car, and the large roof has to cover
two rows of seats). When the top is down, it stows in the trunk, taking
about one-half of the trunk’s space to do so. According to Volvo executives
present at the car’s launch in Frankfurt, two sets of golf clubs can be
accommodated in the trunk, even with the roof in the down position.
The new C70 is packed with active and passive safety equipment, and while
the car is designed to be a stylistic “halo” vehicle for the company, it is
also a showpiece for Volvo’s commitment to safety technology.
An impressive and new safety feature is the presence of side curtain airbags
that deploy from the top of the doors. These provide protection in the event
of a collision to the side of the car, and function whether the top is up or
down (they stay inflated for five seconds when deployed). Complementing the
side curtain airbags are massive aluminum beams welded into the doors and
reinforced B-pillars that form part of the Side Impact Protection System.
Another safety technology is the Roll Over Protection System, which consists
of two roll bars that deploy from behind the rear seats if required, and
work in conjunction with the hydroformed A-pillars at the front of the car.
If the vehicle is inverted in a roll-over, the hoops and the A-pillars are
designed to support twice the weight of the car.
It should be noted, however, that roll-overs account for only three per cent
of vehicle accidents.
Overall, the C70 is designed to provide a structural “safety cage” for its
occupants, and in conjunction with electronic stability control, anti-lock
brakes and other technologies, the C70 should represent the state-of-the-art
in safe convertible motoring.
The Volvo C70 was designed and is being built as a joint venture between
Volvo and Italian specialist designer/builder Pininfarina. The car will be
assembled at a plant in Uddevalla, Sweden called Pininfarina Sverige AB.
This is the first pure joint venture for Pininfarina, and the first time the
Italian specialist designer/builder has built a car outside its home
Look for the Canadian arrival of the Volvo C70 in April, 2006 at the
- 2006 Volvo C70
- Type: Four-seat luxury convertible car
- Notable: Three piece retractable hardtop, sophisticated safety technology,
- Price: TBA