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Volvo C70 2006 Road Test

Tue, 06 Jun 2006

I wasn’t a fan of the old Volvo C70 convertible. It shook, shimmied, leaked through the door mirror housings and did not drive anything like as well as its styling promised. Surprisingly, and this is a very subjective thing, the 2006 Volvo C70 doesn’t look quite as good from all angles and in all circumstances as preview photos promised. Or maybe it just doesn’t suit red as well as silver or pale metallic blue.

The stubby front that works brilliantly on the S40 saloon and V50 station wagon can seem slightly at odds with the low curve of the roof. And red appears to emphasise that.

On its 18” Mirzam wheels with 235/40 tyres it’s not too happy over speed cushions either. And at first there seemed to a kind of stickiness to the electro hydraulic steering, pulling the car one way or the other, which I never noticed in any of the 5-cylinder saloons or estates, or the Focus ST220 for that matter. And the roof whistled at 70mph from the top of the nearside A pillar.

Delivery day was sunny but not guaranteed to stay that way so I got the car to my snapshot spot as quickly as I could, then tried to get the roof down.

Nothing happened. I tried again. Then again. Then spotted something about luggage on the dashboard display and opened the boot to find that the luggage cover was flopped back and the roof would not come down until it was pulled into its place.

You then have to press the footbrake and hold the switch while the roof goes through its acrobatics. First the boot lid opens backwards. Then the roof separates into three. Then it piles its component parts on top of each other. Then it packs them into the boot. The whole thing is so complex, with arms and cables all over the place that I can imagine a cottage industry developing to fix them when they go wrong (STCS soft tops of Coventry, tel: 02476-455477). And I can see why the 307CC, Megane CC and forthcoming Focus CC have only a two-part roof. A word of warning here. Don’t try this at home. Not in the garage, anyway because the roof folding performance may require a lot more height than your garage ceiling.

My red car was much prettier with the top down than up. There’s plenty of legroom in the two back seats. You don’t get a lot of bluster driving it top down. And, after I put the top back up again, the previous squeaks, rattles and wind noise had all miraculously disappeared. I took it on quite a long trip the next day: two hours there, two hours back on a variety of roads and it was fine. A very nice cruiser, in fact, and one I’d be very happy to drive to Spain, top up, a/c on and a boot full of luggage, knowing when I got there I could cruise around as topless as the talent on the beaches.

It has a stunning Dynaudio sound system, too. Corinne Bailey Ray came on Radio 2 singing ‘Like a Star’, beautifully clear, from her number one album almost exactly a month after I first heard ‘Put Your Records On’ in a Lexus IS250. I don’t normally take an interest in such things. But she forced me to. The first really good voice I’ve heard in years, and better through Volvo’s Dynaudio system than from the kit I have at home.

If you pitched the C70 up against the Audi A4 cabrio, the old BMW 3-Series convertible and the SAAB 9-3 convertible (where it’s priced), it’s still the only one with a folding hard-top. Its Focus based handling has less understeer than the much-improved Audi and the SAAB, but neither of these are bad cars. It beats the current BMW because that’s blighted by the fact it’s up for replacement by an E92 CI folding hardtop that arrives in the UK just in time for next winter.

Lower down the scale are the forthcoming VW Eos, Astra Twintop and Focus CC, all landing here this Spring or Summer, and the existing Peugeot 307CC and Renault Megane CC which are discounted down to as little as £14,000. So to justify paying £26,000 to £33,000 for the C70 you have to put it in the same class as the Audi, BMW, SAAB and even the Mercedes CLK convertible.

Up to you. It’s undoubtedly the ‘must-have’ high-status genuine four-seater coupe convertible for this summer.

C70 D5 Geartronic

As with Volvo’s other premium niche car the XC90, demand for the C70 has outstripped supply in all markets, especially RHD. So, unless you’ve already got a car coming, you might as well wait until September 2006 for the first UK deliveries of the C70 D5 Geartronic.

It makes the most sense of all C70s for all the right reasons. It goes well. With 180bhp and 258 lb ft torque from 1,750 to 3,250rpm it’s ideally matched to the five-speed autobox. So well matched, in fact, that there is little need to use the wrong-way-round Geartronic shifter function to change gears yourself. 5th gives 35mph per 1,000rpm, so it’s a relaxed cruiser, too

Despite being quite a heavy engine the D5 doesn’t seem to upset the car’s handling. And Sweden’s constant radius curves were a pleasure to navigate with the car’s excellent steering and chunky, leather-clad wheel.

I found the button that raises the roof parts in the boot to enable you to tuck luggage underneath.

And I worked out where the car looks its best. Not on the ridge over the M3 where I try to snap everything. Not top up on the street where I live. It has to be top-down near water. Then the C70 looks sensational, particularly in red.

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