Full 2012 Volvo C70 Review
What's New for 2012
The 2012 Volvo C70 model lineup gets revamped with three new trim levels, while the standard Bluetooth system now includes audio streaming capability.
If you're looking for an upscale convertible that's long on style but don't want to sacrifice substance -- things like comfort, safety and year-round practicality -- we think you'll like the 2012 Volvo C70. On the style front, the midsize C70 is handsome inside and out, albeit in an understated way. And while its retractable-hardtop design isn't as rare as it was when the car debuted back in 2006, it still brings about some nice attributes.
Mostly, the C70 has a level of practicality traditional soft-topped convertibles can't match. Besides being able to go from al fresco motoring to buttoned-up comfort at the press of a button, the three-piece retractable hardtop adds a level of security and quietness that makes this more than just another warm-weather toy.
If there's an area where the C70 gives ground to other luxury convertibles, it would be acceleration and handling. While the turbocharged five-cylinder engine and comfort-tuned suspension are actually well matched to what most buyers want from a car like this, the C70 lacks the refinement found in the Audi A5 and BMW 3 Series. The same could be said for the interior, which is stylish in a minimalist Swedish sort of way, but doesn't exactly exude the same rich feeling as those German competitors. Still, the 2012 Volvo C70 is cheaper than those models, while also being more practical than the sporty Infiniti G37 and refined Lexus IS C. So even in the face of several other worthwhile choices, the C70 offers a balance of style and substance that's worth a look.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2012 Volvo C70 is a four-passenger luxury convertible with a retractable hardtop. A reshuffling of the model lineup means there are now three different C70 trim levels available, including the T5, T5 Premier Plus and T5 Platinum.
The T5 base model comes equipped with 17-inch alloy wheels, a power-retractable hardtop, front and rear foglamps, and heated mirrors. Inside, the T5 sports keyless entry, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, eight-way power front seats, driver memory functions, a tilt-and-telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a trip computer, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and an eight-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, HD radio, an iPod/USB audio interface and an auxiliary audio jack.
Moving up to the Premier Plus gets you rear parking sensors, keyless ignition/entry and a compass. The top-of-the-line T5 Platinum adds a navigation system, real-time traffic and a 14-speaker premium surround-sound audio system.
Each trim is eligible for the following options. The Climate package bundles headlamp washers, automatic wipers, heated front seats and upgraded climate control. The Dynamic package includes 18-inch alloy wheels, adaptive bi-xenon headlights and a sport steering wheel. Stand-alone options include a blind-spot warning system. The Inscription package includes a more powerful engine, unique 18-inch wheels, adaptive xenon headlights, LED running lights, a rear spoiler, a sport steering wheel, aluminum sport pedals, monogrammed front seats/floor mats and leather covering for the dash, center armrest and hand brake lever.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2012 Volvo C70 is powered by a turbocharged 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder engine rated at 227 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive and a five-speed automatic with manual-shift control are standard. In Edmunds performance testing, the C70 went from zero to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds, which is slow for the class. EPA fuel economy estimates for this powertrain are 18 mpg city/28 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined.
The 2012 Volvo C70 comes standard with antilock disc brakes and brake assist, stability and traction control, front-seat-mounted side airbags, front seat side curtain-style airbags, automatically deploying roll bars and whiplash-reducing active front head restraints.
In Edmunds brake testing, the C70 came to a stop from 60 mph in 133 feet, which is about 10 feet longer than average.
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 passenger cabin earns high marks for form, with a sleek, stylish design accented by Volvo's trademark thin center stack panel that appears to float in the space between the dash and the center console. Quality materials, including leather upholstery and both the standard aluminum and optional wood trim, complete the effect. The front seats are comfortable and the 14-speaker surround-sound audio system on the top-of-the-line Platinum model is one of the best you'll find on a convertible.
Function is more of a mixed bag, however. While the familiar "mode man" climate controls are intuitive, the audio controls can be frustrating and the optional navigation system has one of the worst control interfaces on the market. Rear seat legroom is a little tight, though it'll do for kids or even adults for short hops.
As with all retractable-hardtop models, you'll lose trunk space with the top down. But the Volvo goes from a very generous 12.8 cubic feet with the top raised to a still-usable 6.0 cubic feet with it lowered. That doesn't seem like a lot, but it's better than many competitors. Pressing the trunk-mounted Load Assist button lifts the roof assembly to make accessing the remaining space easier.
What you think of the 2012 Volvo C70's performance depends a great deal on your expectations. If you're looking for sports car handling you're bound to be disappointed, as the steering feels a bit numb and the suspension allows a good deal of body roll and brake dive when pushing the car hard on a curvy stretch of asphalt. The turbocharged engine, while no slouch, also can't match the punch delivered by the motors in more expensive competitors like the BMW 335i and Infiniti G37 convertibles.
The majority of convertible shoppers will find driving the C70 to be a pleasant experience, however. The car's stiff chassis and suspension deliver a very civilized ride quality. With the top up, the cabin is luxury car quiet, and the breeze is well-controlled with the top down.