IMMEDIATELY upon its arrival, Volvo’s all-new C70 had several members of our test team commenting on its stunning good looks. It is arguably one of the most cohesively designed coupé/ cabriolet iterations that we have set eyes upon. Beauty is not synonymous with the Swedish brand, but the C70 goes a long way to break that train of thought.
Glancing at its elegant lines, it is no surprise to learn that the C70 was first penned as a coupé, and only thereafter was allocation made for the folding roof mechanism, hence the well resolved look, both with and without a top. The lines are sleek and elegant, and the car certainly turned a few heads.
Based upon the current S40 range, it shares the saloon’s familiar visage, underpinnings, drivetrain and facia architecture. Slide into the driver’s seat and shut the rather heavy door – courtesy of extra safety bracing – and from behind the wheel there is the familiar, clean uncluttered facia layout, with the instrument cluster that provides only the vital information to the driver.
Seating is strictly for four, with the rear compartment designed strictly for two. The C70 is however a genuine four-seater, not a 2+2, and will carry two adults in the rear with relative ease, provided they’re not substitutes from an NBA game. Although the seating arrangements are adequate, headroom is a bit tight, a feeling exacerbated by front seats than don’t drop low enough.
There is plenty of oddments storage in the C70: a bin for each of the four passengers, with some of these lockable via the car’s central locking system. Those in the front doors are not easy to access when the doors are in the closed position, but are nonetheless handy when you want to leave the car parked with the roof open.
Fired up, one hears the thrum of the in-line five-cylinder engine. The T5 light-pressure turbocharged unit endows the range-topping version of the C70 with slightly more than leisurely pace.
Working the six-speed manual ’box, it feels peppy enough on the move. Times from our test strip, however, confirmed our fears that the C70’s weight – it tips the scales at just under 1,8 tons – would blunt performance. The added mass, resulting from the extra bracing required for a convertible, and elaborate folding steel (why not aluminium?) roof and associated mechanicals, really spoils the party. The test car was a half-second slower to 100 km/h than the similarly engined saloon model we tested last year, and almost a full second slower than Volvo’s claim.
Flat out, it managed a true 238 km/h, which was close enough to the 240 km/h claim, but in doing so the C70 didn’t feel ultimately stable. So, performance is good, but definitely not breathtaking.
In typical Volvo fashion, active safety-braking for example – is excellent. Subjectively, the emergency stops from 100 km/h felt extremely convincing, a responsive brake pedal and hard bite from the tyres adding to the deceleration sensation. The repeated test revealed no fade whatsoever, and resulted in an excellent average time of just 2,83 seconds.
Away from the test strip and cruising along the sun-soaked roads of the Cape exposed a few of the car’s flaws. Apart from a chassis that does exhibit some scuttle shake, the suspension isn’t the most comfortable around, especially not for a car of this nature. One could easily forgive it for being slightly soft, as would be expected of a cruiser, but it bumps and thumps over scarred and pockmarked tar, feeling almost as though the tyre pressures are too high – which they weren’t.
Another downside is that it is not a car that enjoys being hustled along quickly – but, then again, buyers of this kind of car are probably not going to drive it fast anyway.
When the sun streams through the steeply raked windscreen, a mottled effect is created directly in one’s line of vision by the reflection of the facia top’s roughcast finish, something that we found just a bit distracting. And considering its open-top, easygoing nature, surely a driver’s footrest should have been included?
Transforming instantly from stylish coupé to sun-seeker, once the top performs its perfectly choreographed stowing movement, one can easily forget the C70’s flaws. Judged for what it is, a boulevard cruiser, the C70 fulfils its role with aplomb.
Turn up the exceptionally powerful Dynaudio audio system (chock full of your favourite tunes, of course) and – if you live in an area that has, for the most part, good road surfaces – then you could do a lot worse than the new Volvo.