My kids and I were thrilled at the prospect of test-driving the 2011 Volvo C70. When the redesigned hardtop convertible coupe arrived at our house, we immediately jumped in it, put the top down and went for a ride to a restaurant for lunch. After driving a few blocks, the kids started complaining about the sun. They wanted the C70's top up before we even got to our lunch spot. However, that was all the complaining they ever did in this car, and for that I was glad because the C70 has me dreaming of owning one.
The kids and I learned the hard way that blazing midday heat causes convertibles to become nocturnal. The C70's hardtop makes it easy to hide from the punishing sun. The power hardtop goes up in about 30 seconds. This enables the driver and rider to cover up and cool down during the hottest part of the day and then re-emerge later with no hassle whatsoever. The kids and I used a little more discretion with the hardtop and all was well.
The C70's turbo engine is zippy. It went as fast as I wanted it to, and I never felt like it would get away from me. The braking is responsive in this front-wheel-drive car. The C70 seems to be made for just enjoying the open road, not taking hot laps at the track. And that's alright with this girl.
I'll admit I was initially surprised by the $46,550 price tag of my test car, but then I started doing the math. The C70's base price is $39,950. If I don't get the fancy stereo, which is part of the Multimedia Package ($2,600), and the Dynamic Package ($1,000), it's looking a bit more affordable. Considering all of the safety gear and the engineering marvel that is the retractable hardtop, the sticker shock wore off. Once I decided that my kids don't need clothes or a college education, the reluctance became acceptance and quickly after that, desire.
The C70 looks good when the top is up and even better when the top is down. This car doesn't attempt to justify a weak design due to the fun factor. As much thought went into the good looks of the C70 as the thrilling convertible nature of it.
With the top up, the untrained eye has no clue it's a convertible. All of my neighbors were wowed when the top went down. In parking lots, people would watch as the top went up or down. While it garnered lots of attention, what I liked best about the hardtop is it feels secure, with no rattles or creaks when driving with it up.
Getting in and out of the two-door C70 was a struggle for my kids. They're 6 and 8, so mostly this had to do with patience, which they have very little of most of the time. Remembering to move the seat belt out of the way when getting in and out was the biggest problem. They also had difficulty figuring out how to close the door once they were in the backseat. Eventually, we just decided to all get in and out on the driver's side all the time. Younger kids might not like this all that much and get tired of the effort every time.
With its 227-horsepower, turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-five-cylinder engine, the C70 is fun to drive with the top up or down. The C70 gets an EPA-estimated 19/28 mpg city/highway and uses premium gas.
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Excellent
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove On): Groove On
There's nothing like driving with the top down and the wind in your hair. It's magical. However, it comes at a price. Traveling light in this car is key because there isn't a lot of storage bins or trunk space.
The trunk houses the top when it's down, which doesn't leave a lot of room for your gear. There's a cordoned-off area in the trunk for bags, and a button in the trunk raises the collapsed roof a little to gain access to your cargo, which is handy. However, it doesn't allow much more access than normal, so plan accordingly.
In the front row, there are small lockable storage bins in the doors under the armrests. There are two cupholders in the center console and a couple more in the backseat's center console. This rear center console sits in front of the seats between the foot wells. This position makes getting in and out on the driver's side a little tricky for the person in the rear passenger-side seat. Take note that the C70 is a four-passenger car, and on long trips it's best if the rear passengers don't require a whole lot of legroom (but this makes it perfect for kids, right?).
Speaking of seats, the C70's are comfortable. Very comfortable. I had no problem spending all day in the C70 and would enjoy a long trip in this car any time. I loved the standard leather seats, which were Calcite (white) and Umbra colored; heated front seats are optional. Ordinarily, this color combination might feel a bit 1970s, but it was sporty and bright when paired with the C70's sharp lines.
Perhaps the best interior feature of the C70 is the optional Dynaudio surround-sound stereo, which is part of the Multimedia Package ($2,600). It's amazing how crisp and perfect it sounds, even with the wind blowing and traffic noise thanks to the standard speed-sensitive volume. Toto's "Africa" never sounded so good as it did in the C70's optional 12 speakers. I mean... Lady Gaga sounded like she was in the car next to me.
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Puny
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Puny
You don't have to worry about whether it's safe to put your kids in this convertible. When driving with the top down, the C70 has roll bars that pop up behind the rear seats if the C70 tilts past a certain angle, providing protection for you and your passengers in the event of a rollover crash. The C70 also has been crash-tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It received the top score of Good in front, side-impact and rear crash tests. It hasn't undergone IIHS' latest crash test that determines a vehicle's roof strength.
In addition to the roll bars, the C70 has standard four-wheel-disc antilock brakes with brake assist, traction control, an electronic stability system and six airbags, including seat-mounted side-impact airbags and side curtains, both for first-row passengers only. The C70 also has a Whiplash Protection System.
While there are plenty of features to keep everyone safe in this midsize convertible, there isn't a lot of space in the backseat for child-safety seats. A rear-facing convertible or infant-safety seat is out of the question despite the presence of lower Latch anchors. The C70 doesn't have tether anchors, which isn't unusual in convertibles. A forward-facing convertible will fit in this car, but you have to decide if you're willing to go without using the all-important tether strap. Booster seats fit OK in the backseat, but they'll fit better if the booster is narrow. Interestingly, the seat belt straps are on the inside of the rear seat, and the receptors are on the outboard side of the rear seats. This was just a little different but no cause for alarm.
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