Used 2008 Volvo C70 Convertible Review

With its gee-whiz retractable hardtop, the 2008 Volvo C70 is a strong pick for those seeking a premium convertible with a healthy list of safety features and a stylish interior. However, if performance is your mandate, there are better choices.




what's new

The 2008 Volvo C70 sees a slight horsepower increase, up from 218 to 227. The car's interior also gets a few upgrades, with new wood accents, a leather steering wheel and gearshift knob, and redesigned air vents.

vehicle overview

The Volvo C70 got its start in the late 1990s and was one of the first models to break out of the Swedish brand's stodgy image and into territory occupied by truly stylish cars with sleek, sensuous lines. Initially available as both a convertible and a coupe, the C70's lineup was soon narrowed to include just a convertible. Unfortunately, the car's charm was marred by the fact that its antiquated underpinnings made it a lot less fun to drive than similarly priced competitors. Volvo placed the C70 on a brief hiatus and then redesigned it from top to bottom for 2006.

With the Volvo C70's overhaul came a new body structure based on the current S40 sedan, handsome exterior styling and the addition of a three-piece retractable roof that elegantly assembles itself with the grace of an Arabian veil dancer. Once the hardtop is in place, this convertible in essence becomes a coupe, tightly sealed against the elements.

Unlike some other convertibles, the Volvo C70 doesn't confine, with ample top-up headroom for those who stand north of 6 feet. Visibility is another pleasant surprise, with lean rear pillars offering good sight lines for reversing drivers. The 2008 Volvo C70 is just as agreeable with the top down, thanks to minimal wind buffeting. It's also one of the safest convertibles on the market, as it's equipped with side curtain airbags that deploy when the top is lowered. To accomplish this feat, Volvo mounted the airbags in the doors.

But alas, all isn't perfect in Volvo C70 Land. Though the car elicits more warm sparks than its predecessor, it's hampered by its unimpressive turbocharged inline-5. Handling is competent but hardly energetic. If pep and performance rank high on your list, you'll want to shift your attention to the more pleasurable (though more expensive) BMW 3 Series convertible. Volkswagen's Eos is another interesting alternative, given its very similar demeanor and lower price. Still, with its noteworthy trunk space and outstanding safety features, the 2008 Volvo C70 excels as a reasonably family-friendly choice for those in search of a sexy drop top that doesn't sacrifice versatility.

trim levels & features

The 2008 Volvo C70 is a luxury convertible with a retractable hardtop design. Volvo keeps things simple by offering just one trim level, the T5. Standard features include 17-inch wheels, a power-retractable hardtop, cloth upholstery, eight-way power front seats (with driver memory), automatic dual-zone climate control, full power accessories, heated outside mirrors and an eight-speaker audio system with a six-CD changer and auxiliary audio input.

Buyers can beef up the C70's content with a quartet of packages. Choose the Premium Package for goodies like leather seats, a compass and HomeLink. The Climate Package gives you heated front seats, rain-sensing wipers and headlamp washers. Pick the Convenience Package and get rear park assist, keyless start, power retractable side mirrors, a cabin air filtration system and Volvo's blind spot information system (BLIS) -- with BLIS, indicator lights issue a warning if a vehicle enters your blind spot. Make the most of your music by outfitting your C70 with the Dynaudio Package; it offers a 14-speaker Dolby ProLogic II premium sound system with 910 watts and two subwoofers. Stand-alone options include a navigation system, 18-inch wheels, satellite radio and bi-HID xenon headlights.

performance & mpg

Powering the C70 is a turbocharged, 2.5-liter, inline five-cylinder engine. It's good for 227 hp and 236 pound-feet of torque, with power sent to the front wheels via a standard six-speed manual transmission. Those who'd rather not shift their own gears can go for the optional five-speed automatic. With a manual transmission, the C70 gets 18 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. Automatic-equipped C70s get an 18/26 mpg rating.

safety

This being a Volvo, safety is paramount. Standard safety features include antilock brakes, traction control and stability control. Side airbags are also provided, along with special door-mounted, head-protecting side curtain airbags; these are capable of protecting front occupants even when the top is down. In the event of a rollover accident, rollover bars mounted behind the seats automatically deploy for maximum safety. Anti-whiplash seats are also offered as standard equipment. Volvo's BLIS is available as an option.

driving

Acceleration is hardly mind-blowing, but the 2008 Volvo C70's turbocharged engine offers enough low-end torque to efficiently hustle the car from a stop. On the move, the car's body's structure is rigid and stays flex-free when driven over bumps. The suspension is softly tuned, and the easy-to-drive C70 makes for a pleasing highway or boulevard-cruising companion. But pushed harder, the C70 is an unwilling partner due to uninspiring handling dynamics, numb steering and noticeable brake fade after miles of fast driving.

interior

Activate the retractable roof and 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 a longish 30 seconds to complete. With the top up, there are a generous 12.8 cubic feet available for your gear. Top down, you're left with 6 cubic feet of trunk volume, however.

Most people will find the C70's front seats extremely comfortable. Legroom is tight for those in the rear, but it should be adequate for children and smaller adults. Fluid and graceful Swedish good looks abound in the C70's cabin; its lines are free of clutter, and highlights include a center stack that undulates with a ribbon's clean grace. Still, the C70 has a fair amount of cheap-looking plastics -- troubling for a car in this price range.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.