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Because of its well-thought-out retractable hardtop design, the Volvo C70 is one of the top convertibles to consider if you value style and safety more than outright performance.
Convertible hardtop design, advanced safety features, comfortable seating.
Not much available trunk space when top is lowered.
Available C70 Models
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For 2006, the Volvo C70 returns to Volvo's lineup after a brief hiatus. It's been completely redesigned and is now available only as a four-seat convertible with a retractable hardtop.
Stylish open-air motoring returns to the Volvo lineup for 2006 in the form of the new C70. Those familiar with Volvo's recent history will recall that the first C70 appeared in 1998 as part of Volvo's effort to spruce up its image with a bit of desirability. Two models, a two-door coupe and a two-door convertible, were initially available. This first C70 was comfortable and competent, but its aged underpinnings (it was based upon the erstwhile S70/V70 platform, itself sired from the long-ago 850) made it rather a bland car to drive, particularly in comparison to hotter coupes or convertibles like the BMW 3 Series. Last year, Volvo discontinued this first-generation C70 in preparation for the new model.
The new 2006 C70 is slightly shorter and lower than its predecessor. This time around, Volvo based the C70 on the same platform used for the S40 sedan and V50 wagon. All three cars share the same wheelbase and Volvo's modern styling cues. The key update for the new C70 is that there's only one model -- it's a convertible with a power-operated retractable hardtop. Retractable hardtops are rather rare; other models with this feature are typically high-end models like the Lexus SC 430 and Mercedes-Benz SL-Class. When the C70's steel roof is up, it gives the car cleaner coupe styling, added rigidity and better noise isolation (as opposed to a traditional soft top). When the roof lowering process is started, the C70's dual-hinged trunk lid opens in a reverse motion and the roof pieces arc backward and stack inside the trunk. Overall, the process is rather seamless, though it does take about 30 seconds to complete.
Those shoppers interested in a comfortable four-passenger convertible will certainly want to take a close look at the 2006 Volvo C70. Pricing might be a concern for some as the C70 occupies the same tier as more prestigious and rewarding-to-drive cars like the BMW 325i convertible. It's also more expensive than the Toyota Camry Solara and the Pontiac G6 convertible, which is due to arrive this year and has a convertible hardtop design like the C70. Still, a strong case for the C70 can be made given its attractive design, long list of safety equipment and comfortable ergonomics.
The 2006 Volvo C70 is a two-door, four-passenger convertible. Only one trim level, T5, is currently offered. The C70 T5 comes standard with features like 17-inch wheels, keyless entry, heated outside mirrors, automatic dual-zone climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, power front seats, a driver memory function and an in-dash CD changer. Three option packages are available to expand the C70's content. The Premium Package adds full leather seating, HomeLink and a compass while the Climate Package includes rain-sensing wipers, headlamp washers and heated front seats. Audiophiles will enjoy the optional Dynaudio Package; it equips the C70 with high-output amplifiers, 12 speakers and two subwoofers. Eighteen-inch wheels, bi-HID headlights and a navigation system are the C70's remaining stand-alone options.
For power, the C70 relies on a turbocharged, 2.5-liter, inline five-cylinder engine. It develops 218 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels through a standard six-speed manual transmission. A five-speed automatic is optional.
Antilock brakes, traction control and stability control are standard. Front occupants benefit from standard side airbags and special door-mounted, head-protecting side curtain airbags. Rollover bars mounted behind the seats automatically deploy to help ensure the safety of occupants in the case of a rollover accident.
The Volvo C70 can transform from a coupe to a top-down convertible. When the retraction process is started, the three-piece roof folds backward and is stacked and stored inside the trunk -- the dual-hinged trunk opens and closes automatically for the roof panels. With the top lowered, the C70's trunk has a scant 6 cubic feet of volume left over for luggage or other items. A divider located inside the trunk allows one to assess how much can be loaded with the top down. Top up, the C70 can carry 12.8 cubic feet worth of gear. In the cabin, a new locking feature allows certain storage compartments to be locked with the key from the glove compartment when leaving the car with a parking attendant.
Though acceleration is certainly not blistering, the turbocharged engine provides enough low-end torque to get the C70 moving smartly away from a stop. Like Volvo's S40 sedan, the C70 handles crisply and provides a reasonable amount of responsiveness. Overall, the C70 strikes a performance balance between the rather dull Toyota Camry Solara and the more energetic BMW 330Ci convertible.
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