Believe it or not the Volvo C70, has actually been around since 1997 in one form or another. For some reason it’s never taken off in the numbers Volvo had hoped for, and late last year they announced they would cease production in 2013.
Which is a bit of a shame, because I really like it.
It has always been elegant, and over the years become even more refined looks wise. The latest version unveiled at the 2009 Frankfurt Motorshow has more prominent headlights and small tweaks to the rear bumper, while the design lines head up around the rear of the vehicle giving it a definitive and sleek dynamic shape.
Inside, the silver middle ‘floating’ console, and ergonomic interface is nice and similar to a lot of the current other Volvos. There is a lot of buttons in a small space, but they’re easy to use, and you don’t need a master degree in electronics to work out how to put the radio on or switch the heater off. By the way the stereo is good, but for a top end vehicle a media player would have been a great.
Comfort-wise, the plush creme electronic leather seats are so adjustable you could easily spend the entire bank holiday weekend getting your driving position exactly right. When you do it’s a very relaxing place to be, like being sat in the worlds softest baseball glove.
As long as you have the key fob thing with you somewhere about your person the C70’s engine will start with a twist of the ignition switch, which is one less thing to think about. It makes your life that very tiny bit easier. Now we have also have Sky+ and Siri it won’t be long until we’ll be able to turn our brains off completely.
The Open Road
The C70 is not really a car for racing, it’s much too sophisticated to be worried about trying to impress people or beat them to the next set of lights. It’s a car for enjoying the journey in, being stuck in city centre traffic jams on a wet Tuesday morning is horrible for anyone, but it’s hell for a C70. It longs for the open road.
Because of the smooth ride, steady handling and automatic gearbox, the driving experience can be a slightly detached one, especially if you are more used to the more responsive feel and drive of a more conventional coupe. The cruise control is simple enough to use although there is no digital visual reference of your cruising speed, so make sure you are under the speed limit when you switch it on.
The C70 comes in 3 engine sizes, two diesels, the D3 (150 ps, the one I tested) and the D4 (177 ps), There is also the much sportier, five-cylinder 2.5 litre turbocharged petrol engine version for those people in slightly more of a hurry. The smaller diesel engine, despite its size (and the weight of the car), is still capable of pretty good acceleration.
I didn’t feel the urge to reach for the 6 speed geartronic transmission when I needed to overtake a couple of local farmers. The horn yes, but not the manual override.
With the roof on it feels almost like a ‘regular’ car, and a couple of people I spoke to didn’t even realise it was a convertible. Visibility is poor through the back window, especially if you have someone with a big head sat behind you, not surprisingly with the roof down that problem disappears. And speaking of the roof mechanism, it’s like something straight out of a Transformers movie, the engineering involved is pretty amazing, very clever indeed. At the push of a button it goes from classy to sexy in approx 30 seconds.
Unfortunately for the entire time the C70 was in my company it was either raining, or about to rain, so I never actually got to drive it with the top down. Included is a cover to put over the backseats to reduce turbulence, although i’m not sure the kids will be able to come along too if you do. Boot space is also halved when the roof is down from 400 litres to 200, so don’t pack too much if you want to feel the wind in your hair.
Volvo take safety very seriously, and the company make it known this is their number one priority. The C70 comes with a huge number of passenger (and pedestrian) protection features. Along with the large number of airbags, there are side inflatable curtain airbags, a world first when originally introduced.
The BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) is also excellent, and similar systems have been adopted by other manufacturers. When a car is about to overtake on either side a small orange light is illuminated in the wing mirror, so if you go through the motions of mirror – signal – manoeuvre, but don’t REALLY look it makes you think enough to stop and it only needs to work once to prevent a serious accident.
In a similar way to the Golf Bluemotion Cabriolet, the Volvo C70 has a foot (or is it wheel?) in two camps, both sporty and practical while not cosying up to either of them. It’s happiest cruising along, where it will give you a smooth ride all day.
It looks fabulous, and it’s wonderful when a manufacturer is able to take visual cues from their heritage and come up with a car that is both visually exciting and modern, even if its days are numbered. The C70 is almost as splendid with the roof up as it is with the roof down (thanks to the British weather), so I have heard anyway.
Top Speed: 127mph
MPG: 32.5mpg (Urban), 55.4 (Extra Urban), 44.1 (Combined)
CO2 Emissions 169 g/km
For more info visit www.volvocars.com