New Volvo C70 Hardtop Convertible a Sure Thing

The newly redesigned 2006 Volvo C70 is certain to be a winner for Volvo. Just another in the most impressive new vehicle blitz in Volvo history, this retractable hardtop coupe/cabriolet is a brand new design that picks up where the previous generation left off and could be described as a quantum leap forward.

While the previous generation C70 was originally available as a coupe or convertible, sales slowed enough that, for the 2003 model year, Volvo dropped the coupe body style entirely. Continuing to offer only the convertible version, it remained the only drop-top – and only two-door – choice for the Volvo shopper, until now.

The new C70’s exterior is beautifully sculpted and the styling squarely aligns it with the rest of the current Volvo family. Most would liken its appearance to the S40 or S60, but its form is more evolved than either. This is particularly evident when viewing the front and rear fascia, but all around, the car’s styling is decidedly forward-thinking. With its frameless glass, and 3-part metal roof, this second generation C70 was designed in partnership with the celebrated Italian coachbuilder Pininfarina, whose experience with folding tops most likely proved indispensable in the development of this new Volvo model. Rumor has it that Pininfarina was sought out by Volvo to develop only the roof mechanisms, but they eventually massaged the overall exterior design as well.

Whatever the case, this car is handsome with the roof up or down, but its appearance is much sportier with the roof over the driver’s head. Also, with the roof in place, it looks very much like what it is: a two-door Volvo. With the roof retracted, it still offers a sporting look, though one suited more for sunny-day cruising… and much more visually comparable to the (surprisingly similarly-priced) Audi A4 Cabriolet.

Four adults fit comfortably into the C70 and the clean interior is very similar to the S40 and V50. Additionally, designers were apparently keeping in mind that this hard top is still a convertible, and included features such as lockable stowage compartments.

Hopefully it won’t start raining after you’ve parked your new C70 with the top down, but it seems like that wouldn’t matter too much since the interior is adorned with an interesting upholstery called Flextech, which is a neoprene material with inherent water-resistant qualities. It’s probably safe to assume that they’d be spill-resistant as well.

The only engine available at launch will be Volvo’s 2.5 liter turbocharged five-cylinder. While it’s no slouch (putting out 218 horsepower and 236 ft-lb. of torque) it still only manages to get the C70 to 60mph in a hair over 7 seconds. Still, the new C70 in standard form will be more than a match for the base model Audi A4 Cabriolet.

Only a $1000 premium for the Volvo presents the customer with the benefits of a retractable roof rather than a soft top, the satisfaction of arriving at 60mph a full second sooner, and the confidence in having almost fifty extra horses under his hood. Even though the A4 buyer can opt for the 3.2 liter V6 and now-legendary quattro AWD, quattro is not an option with the base motor. I cannot be alone in seeing this bold marketing maneuver as a mistake on Audi’s part – a mistake that Volvo will, in all likelihood, not repeat.

So, is Volvo’s 257-hp motor likely to be an option later on? I’d say probably, and hopefully. An AWD option, though not announced, seems definite, since it appears that the new C70 rolls on the same chassis as the S40, and Audi has proven there is a market for an all-wheel-drive convertible… Unfortunately, the business case for a C70 R wouldn’t be very strong. Though evidence suggests it would be technically possible.

Still, I’m looking forward to the upcoming all-new S80, and the entirely new entry vehicle, the C30.

For now, keep your eyes peeled for the new C70 on the roads and in showrooms. These cars will be outstanding sellers, and will no doubt be moving fast.

A full C70 review is to follow as soon as possible!

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