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  • 2011 Volvo C70 Convertible

    Posted on April 12th, 2010 ninarussin

    Retractable hardtop adds four-season versatility

    By Nina Russin

    2011 Volvo C70

    2011 Volvo C70

    I doubt there’s a group of people in the western world who appreciate sunshine more than the Swedes. After a long, dark winter, the arrival of summer and the midnight sun is cause for celebration.

    By Swedish standards, a sunroof is a compromise. The only way to truly enjoy driving in the sun is to go topless.

    As much as convertibles appeal to the Swedish sensibility, soft tops are not practical in the harsh Scandinavian winter. The C70 is a coupe with a retractable hard top: a car with the versatility to function in both winter and summer.

    The steel hardtop adds a measure of safety by making the overall body structure more rigid. Volvo engineers found a way to incorporate both side and side curtain airbags in the car: something not found in competitive products.

    A standard five-cylinder turbocharged engine produces 227 horsepower. Peak torque of 236 foot-pounds comes on just off idle, enhancing the car’s performance on uphill grades. Turbocharging, which uses exhaust driven blowers to enhance airflow through the engine, reduces emissions as well as power loss at altitude.

    The C70 averaged 22.9 miles per gallon on the 130-mile test drive: about a mile-per-gallon better than the EPA estimate.

    A five-speed automatic transmission with manual gear selection gives the driver more control on challenging roads. A fully independent suspension with front and rear stabilizer bars provides a comfortable ride, while keeping the chassis flat in the turns.

    Styling update

    2011 Volvo C70

    2011 Volvo C70

    Designers updated the C70’s exterior and interior styling for the 2011 model year, with a new fascia, grille, taillights and instrument panel. The updates bring the C70 closer to the design of Volvo’s new S60. The facelift also gives the C70 a sportier appearance, with bolder headlamps framing a wedge-shaped front end.

    This week, I got a chance to spend some time behind the wheel of the Volvo C70, in a drive route that included the high desert and mountains east of Phoenix, Arizona, as well as highways and surface streets in town.

    I spent half of the time with the top in place and half with the top retracted. Moving the top up and down is extremely simple. A toggle switch on the center console takes care of the entire operation, automatically stowing the top in the trunk of the car when it’s retracted. A display on the gauge cluster tells the driver when the top is locked in place up, or locked into the trunk.

    The hard top allowed designers to put a large rear window in the C70, giving the driver much better visibility than in most convertibles. The optional blind spot information system automatically warns the driver about vehicles in the blind spots by illuminating warning lights in the A pillars. I would highly recommend the $700 option for any driver who has to contend with thick urban traffic.

    Performance from the five-cylinder turbocharged engine is excellent. The inline engine design has two benefits from an engineering stance. First, it’s inherently balanced. In addition, the inline configuration has a hot and cold end, allowing engineers to position delicate electronic sensors in a less toxic environment.

    The engine produces excellent power in the 20-to-50 mile-per-hour range, critical for merging into high-speed traffic. To test the torque, I opened up the throttle on one of the steeper hills in the mountains. Even at an altitude of about 5000 feet, the engine had enough power to chirp the tires.

    The five-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly, with a minimum of shift shock. Speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion steering provides more assist at low speeds, while maintaining positive on-center response on the highway.

     Steering feedback was excellent on a series of corkscrew turns through the mountains. Four-wheel disc brakes can stop the car on a dime.

    An option package on the test car adds 18-inch wheels in lieu of the standard 17-inch rims, as well as adaptive bi-xenon headlamps. The 18-inch rims enhance the car’s contact patches with the ground, for better high-speed performance.

    Bi-xenon headlamps swivel according to steering input, to light dark corners of the road at night. They can make a big difference in rural or suburban areas where streets may not be well lit, enabling the driver to see pedestrians who may be waiting at an intersection to cross.

    Retracting the top completely changes the character of the car, transforming it from a high-performance sports coupe into a stylish cruiser. Airflow through the passenger cockpit should be to most drivers’ liking, though the lack of windscreens does make it a little more turbulent.

    Cowl shake can be the bane of convertibles: the problem is conspicuously absent in the C70. It feels solid as a rock with the top in either position.

    Stylish interior

    The C70 holds up to four passengers. Both power front seats come with three position memory to accommodate multiple family members. Heated front seats are part of a climate package that also adds headlamps washers and rain-sensing wipers.

    Designers put an extra power button on the seatbacks, so rear passengers can move the front seats forward to ease access and egress. Smaller adults will be comfortable in the rear seats: there isn’t a lot of legroom.

    Redundant audio, cruise and Bluetooth controls on the steering wheel minimize driver distraction. Designers used a floating center stack, similar to designs in the S40, V50 and C30. The space behind the center stack is large enough to house a purse or small stack. Audio and climate controls on the center stack are easy to reach from either front seating position.

    Both rows of passengers should find plenty of storage cubbies and cupholders. A twelve-volt outlet in the center console recharges portable electronic devices. Auxiliary and USB ports in the center console bin interface with MP3 players and iPods. Dual overhead reading lamps up front and courtesy lamps to either side of the second-row passengers illuminate the interior at night.

    Because the roof of the car retracts into the trunk, cargo room is limited. A tire inflation kit in lieu of a spare makes the most of available space. But the C70 is not a good option for athletes who need to haul bicycles and other large gear around.

    Standard safety

    The C70 comes standard with front, side and side curtain airbags, active head restraints, antilock brakes, traction and electronic stability control. Volvo builds the C70 at its Uddevalla, Sweden assembly plant.

    Likes: A stylish coupe with a retractable hard top that has excellent handling, performance and a high level of standard safety equipment.

    Dislike: Lack of trunk space.

    Quick facts:

    Make: Volvo
    Model: C70 Convertible
    Year: 2011
    Base price: $39,950
    As tested: $46,550
    Horsepower: 227 Hp @ 5000 rpm
    Torque: 236 lbs.-ft. @ 1500 rpm
    Zero-to-sixty: 7.4 seconds
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Standard
    First aid kit: N/A
    Bicycle friendly: No
    Off-road: No
    Towing: No
    Fuel economy: 19/28 mpg city/highway


    7 responses to “2011 Volvo C70 Convertible”

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