The Volvo C70 is a sleek, high-class coupe cabriolet with average handling

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Just like its predecessor, the all-new Volvo C70 comes as both coupé and convertible. This time, however, thanks to a neat folding metal hard-top, it takes only one car to fulfil both rolls.

The new C70 is very different from the first-generation coupé and convertible, introduced in 1997, but although Volvo’s saying it is ‘all new’ it shares a great deal of its architecture with other models from the manufacturer.

The C70 is a year-round drop-top

The C70’s underpinnings are the same as its sister models, the S40 saloon and V50 estate. Both S40 and C70 share the same wheelbase, but the C70 is a little longer, although it is placed in the middle of its key rivals – shorter than the Audi A5 Cabriolet and longer than the Volkswagen Eos.

The C70 is also in the minority, with most of its competitors featuring a fabric roof. The upside of the hard-top is that there is very little wind noise at speed and good thermal insulation – this is a car developed with a respect for the cold of Swedish winters. Inevitably, there’s a downside, which is limited boot space.



Volvo C70 folding metal roof

To our eyes, the new Volvo C70 is much more successfully styled than some recent coupé-convertibles, with none of the dumpiness around the rear three-quarter that afflicts the Peugeot 307 CC, say.

Volvo claims that it first designed the C70 as a coupé, only setting out to make it a hard-roofed convertible later. And it shows. If there’s a downside to this approach, it’s that the C70’s boot space is limited when the roof is stowed.

The C70 offers more space inside than many of its rivals

Although it has a fairly large load area of 404 litres with the hood up, lower the roof and maximum space falls to just 200 litres. Worse still, access to that space is through a narrow gap beneath the C70’s loadbay divider. This must be locked into position to separate the boot into two spaces; one for luggage, one for the roof mechanism. Lowering the roof turns a spacious, wide and deep boot into something suitable only for a couple of squashy bags.

The roof mechanism has been, as with so many coupé-convertible models, developed in conjunction with Italian design house Pininfarina. In the C70’s case, it’s a three-piece item – one comprising the rear window and surrounds, with the two other pieces making up the lengthy roof. To raise or lower the roof you just have to press a button on the centre console: one for up, one for down. The operation takes about 30 seconds either way.

The C70 is a full four-seater, so the roof is longer than that of a 2+2 coupé-cabriolet. With so much of the structure unable to boost structural strength with the roof down, it is an enormous challenge to retain rigidity in the bodyshell.


Volvo C70 interior

Interior fit and finish is beyond criticism in the C70, but, although the cabin materials are respectable, some plastics and switches lack the extra edge of classiness or softness to cut it at the premium level. At first, it appears sparsely trimmed, but study it and you appreciate the clean sweep of the fascia, the subtle deployment of aluminium décor and Volvo's trademark floating console.

As with so many Volvos, though, it manages an ‘almost-premium’ feel without being totally convincing. The ergonomics are as good as we’ve come to expect from Volvo and the cabin’s lighting is wonderfully seductive.

The C70 is hushed at speed

The driving position is excellent, and there’s a huge range of adjustment on both the seat and steering wheel. The pedals are well spaced and nicely weighted, and the minor controls are well laid out. Due to the harshness of Scandinavian winters, Volvo develops switchgear to be easily operated by gloved hands.

Passengers, meanwhile, will find that there’s adequate space for two adults in the back, but legroom is a touch limited, and it feels a bit claustrophobic with the roof in place. With it shut, wind and road noise are kept to acceptable coupé-like levels. With it open, there’s little buffeting should you be in a front seat, even at motorway speeds, and an acceptable amount in the rear.


Volvo C70 roof down front

The performance headline grabber in the C70 is the sole petrol engine, the T5. Volvo's five-cylinder unit – which also powered the old 2.5-litre Ford Focus ST in a higher state of tune – develops 230bhp at 5000rpm, but more importantly 236lb ft of torque all the way from 1500 to 5000rpm. It’s a very flexible unit that sounds good: a cultured and endearing noise that’s smooth and characterful.

It’s a shame that the C70’s engine has so much weight to lug around, and is hampered further by the slow-acting Geartronic automatic gearbox. The C70 is not a small car, and it tips the scales at more than 1700kg. Nevertheless, the T5 makes a decent fist of hauling itself around. Our wet figuring session saw the C70 scrabble to 60mph in 8.4sec (Volvo claims 7.4sec to 62mph), but in-gear flexibility is commendable.

The T5 should be faster than it is

Unsurprisingly, the core engines are both diesels with two different power outputs. The D3 and D5 – both 2.0-litre units – develop 148bhp and 174bhp respectively, with peak power arriving at 3500rpm. The D3’s 258lb ft peaks at 1500rpm, with the D5’s 295lb ft reaching its maximum at 1500rpm.

Both engines give respectable performance and plentiful in-gear flexibility, leggy sixth gear aside. The engine emits more than its share of volume – although because it’s a five-cylinder unit rather than a four-pot, like all of its rivals, the noise isn’t unpleasant.

Both diesels are available with a smooth six-speed manual gearbox, which is a far better choice than the sluggish Geartronic five-speed automatic.


Volvo C70 cornering

The C70 feels considerably stiffer when the roof is raised than when lowered. Although Volvo claims that the new car is twice as stiff as the previous convertible, that’s not the boldest claim: the old C70 never felt especially rigid in either coupé or convertible form.

On smooth roads, however, this C70 is untroubled by scuttle shake. But roads with mid-corner drains or broken asphalt send jolts through the C70’s suspension and into the bodyshell. Occasionally this causes creaks and shakes from the roof, mostly where it meets the windscreen header rail.

The dynamics are slightly uninspiring

Grip levels are high, and when the C70 does let go it understeers mildly and predictably. The C70’s steering offers very little feedback, except for the occasional unwanted shimmy. It’s a little too light, but linear. The Audi A5 Convertible and Volkswagen Eos are both more fun to drive than the Volvo.

There’s a feeling that the C70 is a weighty car, and that’s not necessarily a bad feeling because the weight contributes to the assurance of the ride and secure feel of the handling.

Of course, for every driver who wants a sharp drive in a car with excellent dynamics, there are plenty who just want a boulevard cruiser that’s comfortable and predictable. The C70 can do this just fine.


Volvo C70 2006-2013

Strangely for a car that’s built by the car maker that most famously trades on its safety credentials, and one that’s been on sale for many years, the Volvo C70 hasn’t been put through the Euro NCAP crash tests.

If it were to be tested, it’s hard to imagine that Volvo has released a car that won’t score a maximum five stars.

A high level of safety equipment is standard

The windscreen pillars have each been formed from a single piece of steel for added strength, and reach as low as the sills for greater side-impact protection.

Should the C70 roll, pop-up bars are standard; as are world-first curtain airbags that inflate upwards from the doors. There are also twin front and side airbags, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake-assist, traction and stability control.

Although it offers the most pace, the turbocharged petrol T5 model feels a little over-engined, so the additional running costs don’t compute. Volvo claims 30.1mpg on the combined cycle, and at 219g/km, it emits almost 100g/km more CO2 than the greenest VW Eos.

The diesel duo are wiser, if less sonorous choices, with identical 47.9mpg and 154g/km ratings. Not only is it a nicer gearbox, but manual versions are also cheaper to buy and run.


3.5 star Volvo C70

The Volvo C70 has one of the best-engineered hard-tops in the business. It’s a comfortable coupé-cabriolet, but one that lacks driver thrills.

The C70 is a good-looking, comfortable coupé-cabriolet, with a well-engineered folding top that’s a joy to watch in operation, even if it does affect boot space enormously.

There's much to offer fans of the brand

The performance won't set the road alight, regardless of the chosen engine, and the Geartronic gearbox should be avoided if possible. It’s not a particularly thrilling steer either, and the ride is occasionally troubled.

But there are plenty of buyers – many of them Volvo’s core market – who simply want a car that’s comfortable, oozes understated elegance both inside and out and is painless to own. So by looking beyond the C70’s dynamic shortcomings, there’s plenty to recommend.

There's just one snag. The C70's list price could see you sliding behind some very nice metal.

Whether you think that’s a price worth paying depends on how you view the brand.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior
Title: Editor-at-large

Matt is Autocar’s lead features writer and presenter, is the main face of Autocar’s YouTube channel, presents the My Week In Cars podcast and has written his weekly column, Tester’s Notes, since 2013.

Matt is an automotive engineer who has been writing and talking about cars since 1997. He joined Autocar in 2005 as deputy road test editor, prior to which he was road test editor and world rally editor for Channel 4’s automotive website, 4Car. 

Into all things engineering and automotive from any era, Matt is as comfortable regularly contributing to sibling titles Move Electric and Classic & Sports Car as he is writing for Autocar. He has a racing licence, and some malfunctioning classic cars and motorbikes. 

Volvo C70 2006-2013 First drives