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2006 Volvo C70

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San Francisco:  Do you dream of driving a convertible, but don’t want the appearance, noise, and security risk of a cloth top? Do you also want to be able to take three people with you? Until this year, you’d be out of luck. Now, Volvo has the solution to your problem, the C70 hardtop convertible.

This new compact car looks like a handsome two-door coupe when it’s closed. All you see are two little cut lines snaking their way around the tops of the rear panels. But when you place your foot on the brake and push a little button on the console, the trunk lid tilts back and the top ceremonially rises, folds into two sections, and drops down gently into the trunk. After about 30 seconds, the trunk lid settles down, and you have a perfectly clean roadster, with no boot or top even visible. And, you have room for grown people in the back seat. On the return trip, it’s another half a minute and the roof is a tight and well finished as a genuine hardtop. All that’s missing is the grip handles and ceiling light.

Unlike the famous Ford Retractable of the late 1950’s, this Volvo has no oversized rear compartment, and the windshield header wears no section of roof. Open the somewhat heavy trunk lid and you’ll see a moveable cover, which defines the safe area for loading luggage. Bold signage warns you to not stack anything on top of the cover or next to it. Of course, you may do so, but if you forget and drop the top, many loud crunching sounds, followed by loud cursing sounds, will be the inevitable outcome.

Volvo’s new C70 is based on the recently introduced S40 sedan and V50 wagon, which are Volvo’s smallest cars in the U.S. But this C70 is no starter car. Looking every bit like a Volvo should, it has the high quality design, materials and feel you would expect. The cleanly styled body looks like its larger brethren, with a slim horizontal grille with diagonal stripe, shoulders along the sides, and pointed chunks of taillight at each rear corner. The C70’s slim side windows roll along to a fine point, leaving the rear deck enough capacity to accommodate the right-sized top.

Volvo’s Swedish heritage calls for interiors that epitomize Danish Modern furniture. In the C70 this theme is matte black surfaces with brushed metallic accents, most noticeable on the Volvo-exclusive slim center control panel, which pours down from the dash like a glistening ribbon into an equally handsome center console. The ergonomically designed seats wear durable black Haverdal Flextech with strategically located leather panels. It’s all clean and restful on the eyes. Only one loose trim piece on the right door grip and fairly loud climate control fans marred the perfection.

The C70 moves along more quickly than you might expect. Its inline five-cylinder engine uses a light pressure turbo to deliver 218 horsepower and 236 lb.-ft. of torque. That torque comes on strong from 1500 to 4800 rpm, so you’re never left wishing for more. The engine is nearly silent at cruise, but sings a little when you put your foot into it. I found myself flying along at 80 mph on the freeway with barely a whisper of sound from the road and engine, and no wind noise at all (with the top up, of course). With the top dropped, the rear seatbelts tended to flap noisily in the breeze at highway speeds.

Fuel mileage estimates are 20 mpg city, 29 mpg highway. The built-in trip computer told me I earned 20.2 mpg during a week of mostly highway mileage. I probably had a little more fun than I should have, so your mileage may be better.

I was thrilled to get a six-speed manual transmission in my Passion Red test car. The shifts were precise and smooth, and the power delivery was very satisfying. You can order up a five-speed automatic if you must, but I thought the manual shifting gave the top-down car a sense of kinship with real sports cars. Driving gloves are optional.

Being a Volvo, the C70 naturally has a focus on safety. The complete program includes things like standard traction control for accident avoidance and pop-up rollbars in case you get in over your head. There’s an extra strong safety cage with energy absorbing structures around it. There are lots of airbags. Especially noteworthy is the uniquely constructed side curtain airbags, which work even if the top is down. The list goes on and on, but you should feel safe driving your C70 regardless of whether the top is above you or behind you.

I said that the C70 was no starter car and the price reflects that. While the S40 sedan starts at $23,755 (not including destination charges), the C70’s sticker is $38,710. My tester had gorgeous 18-inch Mirzam alloy wheels for an additional $995. You could think of it as $20,000 for a stylish coupe and $20,000 for a sporty convertible . By Steve Schaefer © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco

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Byline: Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo ©AutoWire.Net
Column Name:  The C70 is no starter car and the price reflects that
Topic: The 2006 Volvo C70 Hardtop Convertible
Word Count:  918
Photo Caption: The 2006 Volvo C70 Hardtop Convertible
Photo Credits:  Volvo Internet Media
Series #:   2006 - 48

Download the Microsoft Word version here:   2006 Volvo C70

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