2003 Volvo C70 Expert Review:New Car Test Drive
New Car Test Drive
Style is standard, wind in your hair is optional.
The Volvo C70 is one of the most stylish vehicles Sweden has ever produced. A provocative and passionate expression of Scandinavian design purity, the C70 blazed the trail for the transformation of Volvo design with an inspired vision of aggressive automotive athleticism. Sexy curves gracing the C70 Coupe and Convertible can make you forget you're driving a car built by a company best known for being boxy but safe.
C70 shows just how cool Volvos have become. They boast powerful engines, beautifully crafted interiors, and a driving experience that's rewarding.
The convertible drenches you in sunshine and whisks all your cares away with the wind. Add the taut suspensions and crisp steering and the C70 makes for a pleasant vehicle.
Coupe and convertible body styles are available, along with two versions of the transverse-mounted, turbocharged, all-aluminum inline five-cylinder engine.
Coupe ($37,525) gets a 236-horsepower 2.3-liter High Pressure Turbo (HPT) with a five-speed manual.
Convertible ($44,125) comes with a 2.4-liter Low Pressure Turbo (LPT), which puts out 190 horsepower through a five-speed automatic transmission. The more powerful engine and manual transmission are also optional with the Convertible ($46,125).
For 2002, Volvo's Stability and Traction Control System comes standard on all C70s. For 2002, the Cold Weather Package is standard on all models and includes heated front seats.
Standard equipment includes remote keyless entry, cruise control, air conditioning, a trip computer, a tilt-telescope steering column, heated power outside mirrors, and power windows and door locks. HomeLink, an integrated remote-control system that can be programmed to open garage doors and turn on house lights, comes standard on the C70 Coupe.
An automatic transmission ($1,000) is optional with the 236-horsepower engine. Convertibles come standard with 16-inch alloy wheels with 205/55R16 tires, but get wider 225/50R16 tires with the more powerful engine. Coupes get 17-inch wheels with 225/45R17 tires.
Whether it's Coupe or Convertible, the Volvo C70 is a beautiful car.
They embody a strikingly unique synthesis of power, grace and aesthetic proportions. Even at rest, their aggressive lines impact the eye with the sensation of beauty at speed. The designers of the C70 did a good job of marrying Volvo's highly respected heritage with a graceful, but sporty look.
From the front, the grille retains its trademark diagonal badge, while sleek headlamps remind drivers this is a muscular piece of mechanical art. The raked windshield and sports-car styling stand out the most when viewed in profile. The sheet metal on the two-door C70 widens over the wheels and narrows again between the tires, like a Coke bottle when viewed overhead. The lines tuck in at the base of the windows. The result is a car that looks like it's in shape, with a tight waist and strong shoulders.
Volvo's designers also got the details right: Headlamp washers are tucked discretely above a slightly protruding bumper that is punctuated by serious-looking air vents. When the fully automatic soft-top is raised, it slopes gracefully to its slightly tapered rear. Lowered, the top tucks out of the way to preserve uncluttered lines.
The operation of the convertible's top is really cool. Press one button to raise or lower it.
Volvo designs some great interiors and the C70 benefits from graceful design with elegant lines. Sliding into the generous, well-tailored interior reveals leather upholstery in light hues. The bucket seats are well-contoured, comfortable and supportive, with eight-way power adjustments. There is ample leg, shoulder and hip room in both the front and rear, though taller drivers may complain of limited headroom. As expected for a convertible based on a coupe, getting into the rear seats is a squeeze for larger folks.
A handsome instrument cluster features black numerals on light gray gauges that are easy to read by day and reverse at night to white on black.
The optional 400-watt, 12-speaker stereo system with an in-dash three-disc CD changer works great and is easy and convenient to use. The Dolby Pro-Logic system senses whether the top is up or down on the convertible and adjusts volume accordingly. Complemented by Volvo's quiet engine, the C70 becomes a concert hall on wheels.
True to the Volvo reputation, safety is paramount. The convertible features rollover hoops; folded down behind the standard head restraints in the back seat, they activate automatically if the car flips over. Volvo's Side Impact Protection System airbag (SIPS) offers head, shoulder, and torso protection. C70s also feature Volvo's Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS), which helps protect front-seat occupants in the event of a rear impact.
While we enjoyed the ability to drop the top, the convertible comes with a tiny trunk with just 8 cubic feet of cargo space. The coupe provides slightly more than 13 cubic feet.
Volvo's C70 Convertible feels silky smooth with the standard Low Pressure Turbo engine. This 190-horsepower engine provides a broad power band. When cruising around, it delivers robust throttle response at any engine speed. It feels powerful, in other words. Punch it, and the Convertible accelerates quickly and smoothly, with no time spent waiting for the turbo to spool. Accelerating from 0 to 60 mph takes less than 8 seconds and the car boasts a top speed of 130 mph.
When equipped with the more powerful High Pressure Turbo engine, the C70 Convertible and Coupe boast excellent acceleration performance.
The automatic transmission is responsive, shifting down quickly to the appropriate gear with the precision you would expect in finely engineered machinery.
The suspension provides sharp handling response. This car has that feel of a fine European sports sedan. The driver immediately feels connected to the car and to the road, which instills confidence in corners. The optional traction control system enhances control in slippery conditions.
The brakes are built to match the C70's potential for speed: They provide good pedal feel and did not fade while descending steep grades.
The Convertible does a good job of managing the wind. Even in light snow high, we were able to keep the top down with only the slightest intrusion of moisture. There is a fair amount of cowl shake, however, a trade-off with the less-rigid body of the convertible. When it began to snow more heavily, we pulled to the side of the road, set the parking brake and pushed the button to put the top up. A half-minute later, it was safely anchored to the reinforced window frame and we were back on the road.
Whether Coupe or Convertible, the Volvo C70 is a stylish car. While Volvo has maintained its reputation for safety, the C70 led the company away from its traditionally stodgy, boxy look in favor of a fresher image. More than any other model in its lineup, the sporty and free-spirited C70 Convertible represents the winds of change blowing through the company.
Convertible LPT ($44,125); Convertible HPT ($46,125); Coupe HPT ($37,525).
Options As Tested
automatic transmission ($1000); 17-inch alloy wheels ($400).
C70 Convertible HPT ($46,125).
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