Styling revisions give the Volvo C70 a freshened appearance for 2011. The 2011 C70 gets a redesigned front fascia, grille, headlights, and front fenders. The nose of the 2011 Volvo C70 is more wedge-shaped than last year's version, adding dimension. The rear fascia has also been restyled as well, and there are new LED taillights. Inside, the instrument panel has been redesigned for 2011.
The Volvo C70 is a hardtop convertible. The C70 converts from coupe to roadster with the press of a button. Its folding steel roof deploys from the trunk and converts from open car to hard top in just 30 seconds. The top is made of steel, so when the top up is up, it's quiet and feels like a coupe, and it offers the security of a coupe. Press the button, and the joy of top-down motoring is yours.
The sporty C70 is based on the S40 sedan, but it has more luscious lines. The engine, suspension and transmission are proven Volvo components, while the rigid chassis was designed to meet Volvo's industry-leading safety standards.
We found the C70 to be an excellent highway cruiser, smooth and steady at high speeds. The C70 drives like a sports car. It has a solid feel and strikes an appropriate balance of responsive handling with a smooth, well-controlled ride quality and fade-resistant brakes. We found the 5-speed automatic crisp and responsive.
The styling is brilliant, with elegant coupe lines, and the retractable hardtop is an engineering masterpiece. The cabin features comfortable seats, the latest in Volvo interior styling and fabrics, and a clever cubby behind the center dash. The stereo sounds superb. Everything operates as it should, and it's a beautiful piece of work.
The C70 helped launch a trend toward true hard-top convertibles when it debuted as a 2006 model. The 2011 C70 comes as one model, the C70 T5.
The 2011 C70 comes with more standard equipment than before. The 5-speed Geartronic automatic transmission is standard, the 6-speed manual is no longer available. Sovereign Hide leather comes standard with Cranberry leather optional. Sirius Satellite Radio is standard on the 2011 Volvo C70.
For 2011, the styling was revised resulting in a more aggressive appearance. The new fascia, grille with enlarged iron mark and headlights display Volvo's enhanced design language influenced by the revolutionary XC60 and upcoming next generation S60.
Bodywork details such as the front fenders have also been redesigned for 2011, contributing to the new look. The nose is more wedge-shaped and has been given added three-dimensional depth by moving some elements of the front both longitudinally and vertically. The new headlights and the decor around the fog lights, for instance, have been angled upward and toward the rear while the detailing of the lower grille and new, larger air intake reinforce the self-assured stance.
The high-tech LED taillights, similar in function to those found on the XC60, are the most noticeable update at the rear for 2011. The entire light unit is clearly integrated with the oval that frames the enhanced C70's rear fascia.
The Volvo C70 roofline, developed in Italy by Pininfarina, is that of a coupe, and it's a very handsome coupe, with solid upward sweeping A-pillars and delicately thin and downward sweeping C-pillars. Stand close enough, and you can spot the two seams that enable the roof to stack into thirds and drop into the trunk, but otherwise there's not a hint of compromise in the graceful roofline.
Because of the C70's strong wedge profile, the roof lands on the rear deck at a point higher than it takes off from the hood. A soft ridge at the beltline sweeps all the way from headlight to taillight, accentuating the wedge, which is conspicuous but not bulky. In short, the C70 was not given a bulbous rear end in order to fit the convertible steel roof under its cover. The trunk lid is aluminum for reduced weight.
When viewed from the front three-quarter angle, it's clear how short and smooth the hood and nose are, and how aerodynamic the package truly is. Unlike most Audi models, which seem to be following the Dodge Ram in-your-face school of design, the grille of the C70 is small and quiet. The headlamps gently lean inward toward the grille, as the foglamps under the headlamps surround the opening in the smooth fascia/bumper. The hoodline tapers elegantly down to the bottom of the fascia, inches above the road. The effect of the lower three openings is like a reflection of the headlamps and grille.
As the roof retracts, it first elevates, and then slides back and stacks itself in its three sections before quietly submerging into the rear deck. Presto: With one button on the console, it's gone in 30 seconds. Up or down, it takes the same time.
The structural safety features of the C70 take thousands of words to describe in detail. From top to bottom, front to rear, side to side, the chassis has been strengthened, tweaked, and made crushable where possible to dissipate energy in a crash. The C70 convertible more than compensates for the loss of the rigidity of a fixed roof; it's stiffer than the previous C70 coupe. The reinforced B pillars, normally connected by a roof, are connected on the C70 by one of five transverse frame members. This dissipates crash forces. The door sills are laser welded, and raised behind the B pillars. The doors have diagonal steel beams. The A-pillars use extra high-strength steel, and extend all the way down to the frame rails.
The front bucket seats are ergonomically shaped and very comfortable. The front seats slide forward with the touch of a button to ease the boarding of passengers into the two rear seats.
Leather upholstery is standard on the 2011 C70. Standard is Sovereign Hide, but it's also available in Off-Black, Calcite, Cacao, or Cranberry.
The instrument panel has been redesigned for 2011, giving it a wider, sleeker look. The surface of the panel has a new texture that enhances the feeling of quality. The instruments are new, and the gauges and graphics are specific to the C70.
Volvo's flat-panel center stack fits in a world of flat panel computer monitors and television screens. It features a horizontal information screen over a column of buttons for radio and climate controls. Four big knobs dot each corner.
As with many Volvos, interior storage space is in short supply. There are storage compartments in the cabin, some of which are lockable, useful when the car is parked with the roof down. Other compartments can be locked with a separate key, when leaving the car with a parking attendant, for example.
The trunk is small with the top down. The trunk has 12.8 cubic feet of cargo space with the roof up, and about half that when it's retracted: enough room for two sets of golf clubs, says Volvo. Golf club bags have to slide under the roof, so there's an electric mechanism called Load-Aid, which lifts the roof sections and window glass eight inches. There's also a hatch between the rear seats that allows long things like skis to be carried in the trunk, extending into the passenger compartment.
The Dynaudio system delivers vivid sound, so we recommend the Multimedia Package. A nice feature: With the top down, as the speed of the car climbs, the volume automatically increases, then decreases when you slow down. The standard system includes an auxiliary input for iPods and other MP3 players, a USB port, and MP3 playback capability from the in-dash CD player. Sirius satellite radio is standard.
The Blind Spot Information System, or BLIS, includes cameras mounted in the side mirrors that detect vehicles approaching from behind, in daylight or darkness. When an approaching vehicle closes from behind and to either the left or right of the C70, the system activates one of two small amber lights mounted just inboard of the mirrors, calling the driver's attention to the situation. The BLIS option adds a power-retractable feature to protect these intelligent outside mirrors.
The Volvo C70 seems to be made for high-speed cruising. The car is very smooth and steady at freeway-plus speeds. And with the steel top, there's no ragtop racket at high speed. The C70 doesn't accelerate that quickly, but its top speed is a mind-boggling 149 mph, and electronically limited at that.
The C70 uses front-wheel drive and Volvo's well-proven 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder engine, rated at 227 horsepower at 5,000 rpm and 236 pound-feet of torque from 1500 to 4800 rpm. The flat torque curve puts the power to the front wheels evenly and makes the car highly responsive. Volvo estimates 0 to 60 mph in 7.0 seconds with the six-speed manual gearbox and 7.4 seconds with the five-speed automatic. That's not the performance of a hot rod, but it is certainly more than respectable.
Fuel economy is an EPA-estimated 19/28 mpg City/Highway.
We found the 5-speed automatic shifts crisply. Called Geartronic, the automatic features a satisfying and obedient manual-shift mode for those times when you want a little extra control for shifting or holding a gear.
The brakes work very well. We found them to be resistant to fade on a winding road that overheated the brakes on some lesser cars.
The C70 doesn't feel heavy when you flick it around in the curves. The rack-and-pinion steering is power-assisted and electro-hydraulic, and provides a solid feel. We wouldn't call it light or nimble, but turning the C70 doesn't require a lot of effort. It simply gives good feedback through the healthy leather-wrapped steering wheel.
The same could be said of the ride. The chassis is stiff, a key to crisp handling and a smooth ride. The current C70 doesn't shake like many convertibles do, another benefit of the rigid chassis.
The Volvo C70 is gorgeous with its Pininfarina styling, and the styling revisions for 2011 freshen its appearance. It's a fun and convenient car. Volvo's safety engineering is not just marketing, it's a real asset. The engine, transmission and suspension are smooth. We think this four-seat hardtop convertible offers good value.
NewCarTestDrive.com correspondent Sam Moses filed this report from Maui; with Mitch McCullough reporting from Redondo Beach, California.