Used 2006 Volvo C70
Edmunds' Expert Review
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.
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.
Trim levels & features
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.
Performance & mpg
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.
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.
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.
Features & Specs
More About This Model
Although it's raining in sheets, we're sitting in the new 2006 Volvo C70 with the top down. The jungle-covered Hana Highway was dry and sunny a minute ago, but the weather changes fast on the rainy side of Maui.
We pushed the button for the C70's new retractable hardtop 10 seconds ago, but it's not even halfway through its dance yet. With 11 servos, four hydraulic pumps and three glass and steel panels to coordinate, the complex contraption takes 30 seconds to transform the C70 from an open-top convertible into a hardtop coupe. Twenty seconds later we're soaked, but the roof is up and the C70 is back on the road.
Other than its leisurely deployment, there are few drawbacks to the C70's new retractable hardtop. It's the highlight of the 2006 Volvo C70, but the entire car is new, sharing only its tailpipes with the old version. Well, that, and a personality that favors comfort over performance.
Wider, shorter, lower
Five inches shorter and nearly an inch wider than the previous model, the 2006 C70 also has a 1-inch-shorter wheelbase. Although it shares its front-wheel-drive platform with the S40 and V50 wagon, the C70 has wider front and rear tracks and sits a few tenths of an inch lower.
Reinforced steel was added throughout the structure of the car. The stronger metal improves crash protection but combined with the added weight of the hardtop, this C70 is 322 pounds heavier than the old soft top. With the roof up, the extra steel makes the new C70's skeleton twice as stiff as the outgoing C70 convertible.
Dropping the top reduces the car's stiffness by 15 percent. Doesn't matter, it still drives 100-percent better than the old C70, which had the structural integrity of a sock. There's less wheel hop over bumps and the windshield doesn't shake like it's going to rattle itself loose over potholes. Volvo says the A-pillars could even support the car's weight if it rolled over.
Independent suspension front and rear keeps the ride quality comfortable even with the standard 17-inch wheels and low-profile 45-series tires. Eighteen-inch wheels with even lower-profile tires are a $995 option. Either setup offers plenty of grip and there's standard stability and traction control if you manage to break the tires loose.
Not quite a sport coupe
The C70's electrohydraulic steering system does a good job of isolating minor bumps but a bad job of transmitting road feel. Its light weighting feels fine at low speeds, but the steering doesn't get any heavier, or more direct, when you're going faster. The extra curb weight doesn't help its agility either. The added heft gives the car a more stable and refined feel; just don't expect the nimble handling of a buttoned-down sport coupe.
Like most of its competitors, the C70 is reasonably quick but hardly fast. Its only engine is the 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder also used in the S40 sedan and V50 wagon. With 218 horsepower at 5,000 rpm and 236 pound-feet of torque at 1,500 rpm, it measures up well against similar convertibles like the Audi A4 3.0, BMW 325Ci and Saab 9-3 2.0T, but it can't match the German sixes for smoothness or sound. With the optional five-speed automatic transmission, the C70 will hit 60 mph from a stop in 7.4 seconds according to Volvo.
With so much low-end torque, the C70 pulls away from a stop quickly, yet torque steer is minimal. The C70 won't put you back in your seat at highway speeds, but it won't leave you out to dry when you're passing either. Other than a stiffer-than-normal sport shift gate, the five-speed automatic transmission works well. Stick with the standard six-speed manual and you'll save yourself $1,250.
Looking the part
Top up or down the C70 is a handsome car; behind the wheel it's even better. There's no learning curve with the C70's interior. It's the same design used in the S40 sedan: Headlight switch to the left, clear analog gauges directly ahead and a standard ignition on the right. Dual-zone climate controls are easily accessible on the slim panel center stack.
Plush power seats are standard up front. So is a thick-rimmed steering wheel with auxiliary stereo and cruise controls. The C70 comes standard with aluminum trim and a six-disc CD changer. A 12-speaker Dynaudio stereo system ($1,550) and a DVD navigation system ($2,120) are both stand-alone options. Our car didn't have the optional navigation system but the Dynaudio audio system could make the seats vibrate with the top up or down. After six hours of seat time all we would ask for is a little extra seat bolstering.
Despite its shorter wheelbase, the 2006 C70 adds nearly an inch of front legroom. Rear legroom is down half an inch, but both measurements are still the most you'll find in an entry-level luxury convertible. A more relaxed seat angle and improved shoulder room make the rear seats bearable for average-sized adults.
You may have to wait 30 seconds for the top to make its entrance or exit, but that's it. There are no latches to unhook, no windows to roll down, nothing. Just press the brake pedal, hit the button and everything else falls into place.
With all the moving parts involved you would think it would be noisy and more mechanical, but it's not. Putting the top down causes the rearmost panel to lift up, making room for the middle panel to fold into place while the front panel slides in between the other two. And they don't just fold away, they stack themselves neatly into the trunk underneath a hard-shell cover.
Wind shear with the top down is barely noticeable, surprising given there's no wind blocker used. Volvo says it will offer one later, but we don't see the need unless you're particular about hairs out of place.
But the C70 needed more than just a cool roof and great seats to compete. Volvo being Volvo, it went big on safety with pop-up roll hoops, whiplash-reducing seats and two separate side airbags for your chest and head. Stiffer-than-conventional airbags, the head curtains remain inflated longer to better protect against side impacts.
Every C70 comes standard with Flextech upholstery that Volvo says resists weather and fading better than traditional fabrics, as well as being more comfortable in the heat. We don't know about the heat, but it shrugged off the rain just fine. You can go with full leather for an extra $1,395.
There's plenty of storage throughout the cabin and many of the compartments lock along with the door when you leave the top down. It's a good thing, too, since there's only 6 cubic feet of cargo space in the trunk. Put the top up and the trunk space increases to nearly 13 cubic feet, more than most of its competitors.
Category of one, for now
Volvo likes to point out that the C70 will be the only four-seat hardtop convertible on the market when it goes on sale in April. The novelty won't last, however, as two other four-seat hardtop convertibles, the Volkswagen Eos and Pontiac G6, will be available around the same time. Neither will approach the 2006 Volvo C70's nearly $39,000 base price, but they're not likely to match the C70's comfort, safety or feature content either.
The real competition comes from Audi, BMW and Saab. However, their base models all cost about as much as a well-equipped C70 and they're not any faster, better-looking or more luxurious. Add in the C70's hardtop and the Volvo is no longer an afterthought, it's a serious competitor.
Used 2006 Volvo C70 Overview
The Used 2006 Volvo C70 is offered in the following submodels: C70 Convertible. Available styles include T5 2dr Convertible (2.5L 5cyl Turbo 6M).
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Should I lease or buy a 2006 Volvo C70?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.