Road Test: '12 Volvo C70 convertible
Summer may be the usual time for convertibles, but the stylish, capable Volvo C70 is a car for all seasons.
With a three-piece, steel hardtop, the 2012 C70 looks good, rides well and offers a secure, pleasant driving environment year-round. In fact, when the roof was up and in place on the C70 test car, passersby didn't realize this Volvo was a convertible at all.
Best of all, the Swedish-built C70 is a recommended buy of Consumer Reports, with reliability listed as above average.
It has numerous safety features, too. While federal government crash tests have not included the C70, the 2012 car has three types of air bags for front-seat passengers -- frontal, side-seat and head curtain air bags. Dynamic stability traction control, automatic height-adjusting front shoulder belts, anti-whiplash front head restraints and a rollover protection system also are standard, while a blind spot monitor system and rear park assist are options.
The C70 also has a lower starting retail price than other luxury convertibles. Specifically, manufacturer's suggested retail price, including destination charge, is $41,325 for a base, two-door C70 with 227-horsepower, turbocharged, five-cylinder engine.
Though Volvo has had a complicated path of late -- it was originally a Sweden-based company, then was bought by Ford Motor Co. and then jettisoned in 2010 to the Chinese firm Geely Holding Group -- the 2012 C70 tester felt very much like a Volvo of the past decade.
It had Volvo's trademark strong turbo power, safety equipment and inscrutable radio controls on the center stack of the dashboard. Also, the leather front bucket seats were comfortable, fatigue-free resting spots for which Volvo is known.
Steering is light, and the suspension is midway between firm and soft. There's enough softness so passengers notice weight transfer on mountain curves, but riding on broken pavement is not a harsh experience.
Front-seat riders in the C70 have good legroom of 42.3 inches, which is more than the 41.2 in the front seat of the Audi A5 Cabrio. Front-seat headroom in the C70 is a commendable 38.2 inches with the roof on, compared with the Audi's 40 inches. The two back seats are a bit tight but still usable.
One concern: The navigation screen that rose from a slot atop the dashboard was controlled by a handheld remote control. The test car's remote allowed the driver to input destination addresses and other info while driving. It was a dangerous distraction.
2013 Volvo C70
Base price: $41,325
EPA fuel economy: 19 mpg, city/highway combined
Engine: 2.5-liter, double overhead cam
Power: 227 horsepower
Torque: 273 foot-pounds starting at 1,500 rpm
Length: 181.7 inches
Height: 55.1 inches
Wheelbase: 103.9 inches
Cargo capacity: 12.8 cubic-feet
Bottom line: Smart, stylish without quite the sticker shock