Full 2011 Volvo C70 Review
What's New for 2011
The 2011 Volvo C70 receives refreshed exterior styling as well as a new instrument panel and upgraded interior materials. Also, the six-speed manual transmission has been discontinued, and leather upholstery and satellite radio are standard.
Remember the late 1990s and early 2000s, when the first modern retractable-hardtop convertibles appeared? Remember how the mechanical ballet of their folding roofs would leave onlookers gaping and pointing? What a difference a decade makes. Today, it's the rare luxury convertible that doesn't have a retractable hardtop, and this feature is even available on some affordable convertibles. As such, the retractable hardtop does little to set the 2011 Volvo C70 apart, though other elements -- including an agreeable character and a new injection of style -- make this convertible worth checking out.
Let's start with the style, because that's what's most distinctive about this year's C70. Outside, there's a new front-end design that takes the C70's visage from dull to dashing, thanks to sleeker headlamps and a more chiseled appearance. The rear-end styling has been freshened as well, highlighted by LED taillamps and subtly reworked contours. Inside, there's a new instrument panel that features C70-specific gauges and graphics rather than borrowed versions from other Volvos. The overall interior design remains familiar from previous years, but no matter -- we've always found this to be a C70 strong suit.
Under the skin, the C70 is essentially the same luxury hardtop convertible that debuted in 2006. That means it continues to prioritize comfort over performance, which should suit many shoppers in this segment just fine. The C70 rides smoothly and confidently, evincing a pleasing solidity over bumps despite its open-roof structure. The turbocharged inline-5 engine may not be a match for the best from Germany and Japan, but it's peppy enough for most tastes. Handling is the only area where the C70 unequivocally falls short: If you care about cornering ability, this Volvo's pronounced body roll and low limits will likely disappoint.
Another advantage for the 2011 Volvo C70 is its reasonable pricing. Volvo's drop top is considerably cheaper than the BMW 3 Series and Infiniti G37 hardtop convertibles, and the similarly priced Lexus IS 250 C is relatively short on power and interior style. A cheaper option is the Volkswagen Eos, but it shares the Lexus' drawbacks. And the Audi A5 Cabriolet's sexiness is mitigated by its less versatile soft-top design. With its rejuvenated appearance and well-rounded nature, the aging Volvo C70 still occupies an appealing niche in this competitive segment.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2011 Volvo C70 is a four-passenger luxury convertible with a retractable hardtop, and it's available in only one trim level, the T5. It comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, a power-retractable hardtop, front and rear foglights and heated outside mirrors. Standard interior features include leather upholstery, eight-way power front seats (with driver memory), automatic dual-zone climate control, full power accessories, cruise control, Bluetooth and an eight-speaker CD/MP3 audio system with auxiliary audio/USB jacks and satellite and HD radio.
Five option packages are available for the C70, along with a variety of stand-alone upgrades. Going with the Multimedia package equips the C70 with a 14-speaker Dynaudio premium surround-sound system and a hard-drive-based navigation system with real-time traffic. The Convenience package adds keyless ignition/entry and rear parking sensors, while the Climate package includes headlamp washers, rain-sensing wipers, heated front seats and an interior air quality sensor. The Dynamic package gets buyers 18-inch alloy wheels, adaptive xenon headlamps and a sport steering wheel with aluminum inlays. Stand-alone options include a wind blocker, a blind-spot monitor, a portable navigation system and interior wood inlays.
Powertrains and Performance
The front-wheel-drive 2011 Volvo C70 is powered by a turbocharged 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder engine rated at 227 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed automatic with manual-shift control is mandatory. This powertrain is EPA-rated at 19 mpg city/28 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined.
The C70 comes standard with antilock disc brakes with brake assist, stability control, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags for front passengers, roll bars that deploy in the case of a roll-over accident and whiplash-reducing front head restraints. In crash tests, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the C70 its highest rating of "Good" for frontal-offset and side impact protection.
Interior Design and Special Features
The C70's cabin is anchored by Volvo's signature "floating" center stack, a slim panel that spans the gap between the dashboard and the center console. The stereo, Bluetooth and navigation functions are unintuitive, but the now-familiar "mode man" climate controls are foolproof. The optional wood trim dresses up the center stack, but even the standard aluminum trim looks classy. The optional Dynaudio sound system is one of the best-sounding open-air audio experiences available from any automaker.
The C70's front seats are superbly supportive, and a button on each backrest slides the seats forward for rear-seat access. Rear legroom isn't expansive, but it's better than the norm, allowing children or small adults to ride in relative comfort. With the top up, trunk capacity is a generous 12.8 cubic feet, though with the top down it drops to less than half that at 6 cubes. A button in the trunk activates the C70's standard Load Assist feature, which lifts the compacted roof assembly a few inches to create a bit more space for small items.
The 2011 Volvo C70's rigid chassis keeps the structure flex-free over bumps, and its softly sprung suspension makes for agreeable commuting and cruising. The cabin is hushed with the top up and remains turbulence-free at sane velocities with the roof retracted. If you try to drive the C70 aggressively on a winding road, however, you'll encounter numb steering, considerable body roll and pronounced brake dive. But for many convertible drivers, this will seem a small price to pay for the C70's high comfort quotient. The turbocharged engine offers solid low-end torque and a distinctive soundtrack, even if it can't keep the C70 abreast of pricier models like the BMW 335i and Infiniti G37.