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2006 Vovlo C70

by Jessica Howell

Synonymous with the word 'safety,' Volvo is introducing a car to shake up its image while still maintaining classic credibility. The all-new Volvo C70 hardtop convertible blends the original Volvo coupe with the first generation C70 to create something sleek, speedy and sporty enough to attract buyers of either category.

Comfortably seating four adults, C70 proved to be an attention-getter even on Maui's twisting highways where steep cliffs, cascading waterfalls and ocean typically capture the most eyes.

One woman stops us, admiring the contemporary body style and watching in awe as the three-piece, steel paneled hardtop lifts, folds and sweeps itself into the car's rear.

"What is it?" she asks. It takes a moment for her to register our response. "A Volvo?" she questions, "That doesn't look like a Volvo to me." She's right. Design was one of the three pillars (among innovation and safety) considered key to C70's creation, and it looks like it's hit the mark. Smooth, rounded contours, a short front overhang and a strong shoulder that follows the car all the way back and wraps underneath are reminiscent of Volvos past and makes the car appear shorter, lower and sportier than its predecessors.

With women accounting for over 50 percent of Volvo buyers, this response looks like a good sign.

Women, however, were hardly the only gawkers as the line of C70s hugged curves along the island's coast. Two locals lean out of their Jeep, giving an enthusiastic yet barely audible "wow."

"A Volvo?" she questions, "that doesn't look like a Volvo to me."

With 218-hp in an In-line 5 cylinder engine, the C70 is a peppy ride. The hardtop adds considerable weight (perhaps too much for the typical performance coupe buyer) but also adds undeniable safety and protection for convertible lovers. As Volvo puts it, they are looking to convert the U.S. population of convertible-phobes. It seems that they've presented a good case.

Fitted with ROPS (Rollover Protection System) pop-up roll bars (that raise in rear-end collisions to protect from flying debris) and reinforced body structure, C70 makes safety improvements to driving with the top down. You won't have to worry about the top-up-top-down hassle usually associated with running quick errands. Volvo added a double-locking deadbolt and front seat storage bins that lock automatically with use of the key fob when the top is down: a perfect space for those designer sunglasses.

With the top up, you'll find reinforced structuring that provides added protection. Also added is an updated Side Impact Protection System (SIPS) with door-mounted inflatable curtains in front seats that have stiff construction for upright and effective head protection even with the window open. These airbags deflate slower than typical bags, providing lengthier protection in a rollover. Front seats are also equipped with side impact air bags.

Facing stiff competition from the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series, Volvo has won the race to premium hardtop convertible; but how else does it compare? With 12 cubic feet of trunk space with the top up and six cubic feet with the top down, spacing difference is minimal. Perhaps a small price to pay for those who want the wind in their hair without the constant fear of thieves eyeing their ragtop.

A mechanical wonder and quite interesting to behold, the roof is sure to generate "oohs" and "ahhs" from jealous neighbors. It takes approximately 30 seconds to either open or close fully - a fair time. Our major gripe was having to bring the car at a complete stop (not so convenient when it begins to rain at a stale red light) with foot on the brake to raise or lower. The push button was a bit troublesome as well, requiring that it be pressed continuously for the entire 30 seconds; not a problem for the few days that we drove it, but most likely annoying after the novelty wears off. Of course, we tested the C70 in Hawaii's monsoon-like climate where the skies part, rain pours, a rainbow shines and the sun re-emerges all in the span of 30 seconds.

Inside, there is little to disappoint. Four sculpted, comfortable Haverdal FexTech upholstered seats highlight the roomy cabin. Their neoprene-like texture and skin-like feel lessen the sting of seats that have been sitting in the sun for too long. Top-of-seat power driver and passenger adjusters make climbing into the backseat a breeze. An aluminum dash and shift knob add refinement to the smooth and polished interior, while a thicker than usual, easy-to-grip leather steering wheel makes sharp turns a bit smoother and driving a bit more fun.

Standard is the 6-disc in-dash CD changer boasting 910 watts of power output (160 watts standard) that automatically adjust for top down driving. A Dynaudio Premium package is available that boosts sounds with a 5x130 watt digital amplifier, Dolby Pro Logic II Surround and 14 speakers, including dual 9-inch subwoofers that thump behind each backseat. Audio controls are conveniently located in the steering wheel as well.

Starting at $38,710, Volvo's C70 is equipped with standard features. Besides the Dynaudio package, a premium package (with leather seats and auto dimming rearview mirror) and Climate package (heated front seats, headlamp washers and Rainsensor wipers) are available. Automatic transmission, Nav system and rear park assist, among others, are offered as stand-alone options.

Not being a typical convertible fan myself, I must admit that I was won over by Volvo's C70. There are loads of standard safety features, a comfortable interior and a smooth ride make it a competitor to keep your eye on. Best yet, it's fun to look at and even more fun to drive — and who doesn't like to feel the wind in their hair every once in a while?

For more information visit the Volvo website here.

2006 Volvo C70 T5
Retractable Hardtop Coupe
103.9 inches
Overall length:
180.4 inches
Engine size:

In-line 5 cyl., light press. turbo

Standard 6-speed manual
Optional 5-speed adaptive automatic

Front Wheel Drive

Power rack and pinion, power assisted

ABS with Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) and Emergency Brake Assistant (EBA).

Air bags:
2 (fr) 2 (side)

$38,710 (Destination: $695)
Premium Package: $1,395
Dynaudio Package: $1,550
Climate Package: $675