Volvo C70 is First Produced
The Volvo C70 is an automobile manufactured by Volvo Cars in two generations: the first from model years 1997-2002 as coupé and from 1997-2005 as a softtop convertible.
The second generation C70 has been marketed since 2006 as a retractable hardtop.
Volvo introduced the first generation C70 at the 1996 Paris Motor Show, following a European introduction as a 1997 model, and later as a 1998 model in North America — with both low-pressure (2.4L) and high-pressure (2.3L), 5-cylinder, turbocharged petrol engines and manual and automatic transmissions. Peter Horbury designed the exterior and Mexican designer Jose Diaz de la Vega led the interior design team.
The C70 broke Volvo's decades-long styling tradition of boxy, rectilinear designs. According to Peter Horbury, Volvo's design chief from 1991 to 2002, with the C70, Volvo threw away the box, but "kept the toy inside!" Our vision was to design a convertible that would meet the needs of a family of four looking for comfortable blue-sky motoring in a vehicle also providing stylish looks, performance and faultless driving and road-holding."
In a development program of 30 months and working with a Volvo 850-derived platform, Britain’s TWR (Tom Walkinshaw Racing) co-designed the car's basic design and suspension tuning with Volvo. Manufacture of the C70 was a joint venture until the two companies experienced disputes that threatened to interrupt production; TWR did not contribute to the second generation C70.
Volvo's first modern convertible, the C70 was manufactured in Uddevalla, Sweden on a separate assembly line from the 70-series sedan and station wagon. The four-seater convertible featured an electrically-heated glass rear window, automatic (pop-up) rollover hoops, seat belt pre-tensioners, boron steel reinforced A-pillars, front and side airbags, and a safety cage — a horseshoe like structure around the passenger compartment.
The cloth convertible top, initially available in four colors, was fully automatic, operated by a single, dashboard-mounted button. The top stored automatically under an integral rigid tonneau cover in a system pioneered in modern convertibles with the fourth generation Mercedes SL.
The C70 convertible exhibited two negative traits endemic to convertibles: poor rear visibility and pronounced skuttle shake, a characteristic whereby the structural design of the bulkhead between engine and passenger compartment of a convertible suffers sufficiently poor rigidity to negatively impact ride and handling — and to allow noticeable vibration, shudder or chassis-flexing into the passenger compartment.
Early special editions featured two-tone leather interior with wood trim and a SC-901 (1998) Dolby Pro Logic I stereo with 3-disc integrated changer unit (via a cartridge) 500 watts of power and 12 high end Dynaudio speakers.
The C70 was introduced to the press in a signature color (saffron orange metallic) and for the debut marketing, the 1997 movie The Saint featured a C70 — recalling the notable connection of the Volvo P1800 and the TV series from the early 1960s, The Saint with Roger Moore as Simon Templar.
The second generation C70 model was launched on 13 April 2006, sharing the Volvo P15 platform, designed by John Kinsey and built by Pininfarina Sverige AB. The three-piece retractable hardtop raises or lowers in under 30 seconds and replaces both the convertible and the coupé, the latter which had been absent from Volvo's lineup since 2003. The C70 is offered with a normally-aspirated gasoline engine with variable geometry turbocharger and common-rail direct injection.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in the United States recently conducted its first crash tests of several convertibles and designated the C70 a "Top Safety Pick".
Safety systems include a door-mounted side impact protection inflatable which inflates upward when activated. The curtain has an extra stiff construction with double rows of slats that are slightly offset from each other. This allows them to remain upright and offer effective head protection even with the window open. The curtain also deflates slowly to provide protection should the car roll over. This is a unique solution in the automotive world.
The C70 retractable hardtop also features a roll over protection structure (ROPS) with two pyrotechnically charged roll hoops hidden behind the rear seats that deploy under roll-over conditions whether the roof is retracted or not.
Volvo introduced an updated version of the C70, in new Flamenco Red Pearl paint, at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show. The new C70 includes a redesigned front end, new rear LED lamps, and a redesigned, wider instrument panel. Engine and transmission remain the same as before. It will go on sale in 2010, as a 2011 model in North America.
In years gone by, Volvos were known as boxy, square lumps -- reliable and safe, perhaps, but never a styling trendsetter. The Swedes finally joined the styling parade in the late '90s with the introduction of the slightly more curvaceous Volvo C70. Available as a coupe or convertible, the two-door C70 shared much of its underlying hardware with the S70 sedan of the time. Detail improvements through the years -- including trim level and color changes, and minor engine upgrades with low- and high-output turbo options -- kept the first-generation C70 fresh enough for its relatively low volume of customers.
A fully redesigned Volvo C70 debuted for 2006, and it was a whole new ball game. Rather than offering separate coupe and convertible models, Volvo decided to join the herd again and offer a handsome new retractable hardtop that opens and closes at the touch of a button. Fortunately, the attractive shape of the first C70 has largely carried over to the second. The C70 is no sports car, but it should appeal to those who want style and comfort in a luxury convertible.
Current Volvo C70
The Volvo C70 is based on the same platform used for the S40 sedan and V50 wagon. It comes in one body style only -- a convertible with a power-retractable hardtop. When the C70's steel roof is up, it gives the car coupelike styling, added rigidity and better noise isolation than a soft top. When the roof-lowering process is started, the C70's dual-hinged trunk lid opens in a reverse motion and the roof pieces arc backward and stack inside the trunk. Overall, the process is seamless and takes about 30 seconds to complete.
Available in only one trim level, T5, the C70 comes well-equipped with most modern convenience features, including alloy wheels, power seats, dual-zone automatic climate control and Bluetooth. A few option packages allow one to add items such as leather seating, a navigation system and an upgraded audio system. For power, the C70 relies on a turbocharged 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder engine developing 227 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels through a standard six-speed manual transmission, with a five-speed automatic available. Though acceleration is certainly not blistering, the turbocharged engine provides enough low-end torque to get the C70 moving briskly from a stop.
Our editors agree that consumers interested in a comfortable four-passenger convertible should take a close look at the Volvo C70 T5. Pricing might be a concern for some, as the C70 occupies the same price point as more fun-to-drive European and Japanese competitors. Still, a strong case can be made for the C70 given its attractive design, long list of safety equipment and comfortable ergonomics.
Used Volvo C70 Models
The present second-generation C70 debuted in 2006. Notable changes since then include a slight power bump in 2008 from 218 hp to 227 hp. Prior to 2009, Bluetooth was unavailable, and the C70's optional navigation system was not hard-drive-based and lacked some of the current system's features.
The first-generation C70 appeared in 1998 as part of Volvo's effort to polish its brand image with a bit of style and desirability. Two models, a two-door coupe and a two-door convertible with a traditional soft top, were initially available. This first C70 was comfortable and competent, with attractive and elegant styling, but we found its uninspiring underpinnings made it a rather bland car to drive, particularly in comparison to hotter European coupes or convertibles. For power, Volvo installed either a 236-hp turbocharged inline five-cylinder engine or a less powerful 190-hp version.
Minor equipment changes carried the Volvo C70 through its first few years. The 190-hp engine was originally available on the coupe but then dropped in 2001. The high-output engine wasn't available on the convertible until 2000. In 2003, Volvo discontinued the C70 coupe; convertible production ended after 2004. At the time, we found the C70 to be generally desirable, though its dated underpinnings put it at an increasing disadvantage against fresher competitors as the years went on, especially in terms of handling performance.