2008 Volvo C70 Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
August 19, 2008

The 2008 Volvo C70 feels light and gets lighter with the top down -- just don’t plan on taking many friends or much cargo along for the ride.

TheCarConnection.com's convertible enthusiasts researched a wide range of road tests to compile this comprehensive review of the 2008 Volvo C70. TheCarConnection.com's chief editors also drove the 2008 Volvo C70 and added their driving impressions and more details to help you decide if the C70 is the right car for you.

The 2008 Volvo C70 mates a folding hardtop to a four-seat cabin, a front-wheel-drive layout, and a turbocharged engine. The new C70 fills the space of the former Coupe, which left the United States in 2002, and the Convertible, which went off into the Swedish sunset in 2004. It's less sleek than the car it replaces, and while it's a little plain, the C70's shape is clean and well detailed with a minimum of clutter.

The 2008 Volvo C70's turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-five has 227 horsepower. A six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic gearbox is offered on the front-driver. Manual cars have sweet linkages, but the automatic clicks off shifts without an ounce of drama. Either transmission mates well with the turbo's whizzy, high-energy thrust. Volvo says the manual C70 will slip from 0-60 mph in 7.6 seconds, the automatic in 8.0 seconds. Top speed is a teeth-baring 150 mph, and fuel economy is 18/27 mpg with the manual, 18/26 mpg with the automatic.

MacPherson struts in front and a multilink rear suspension help the 2008 Volvo C70 maintain good ride control and entertaining handling. Electric power steering is probably the most controversial bit, but it's well tuned here, with realistic response and feel. With the turbo whine, a light touch to the controls, and tight steering, the C70 doesn't feel at all like a hefty grand tourer.

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At the push of a button and a foot on the brake, the 2008 Volvo C70's top lowers in 30 seconds and folds away in the trunk. Top up, the C70 has 12.8 cubic feet of trunk storage, the largest in its class; top down, it has 6 cubic feet, enough room for a set of golf clubs but the smallest in its class.

The front seats are fantastically supportive, but adults will not want to spend more than a crosstown trip in the Volvo C70's two backseats. There's just not enough legroom for American-sized males. The front is the place to ride, anyway; the slick console design is styled like high-end audio equipment, there's wood or aluminum trim, and in general, the theme is Scandinavian modern.

Volvo wants you to feel safe in the cabin, hence the six airbags, including inflatable curtain airbags, packaged into the cabin. Stability control, traction control, and anti-lock brakes are standard. And a pair of pop-up bars can blast through the rear glass in case of a rollover. The 2008 Volvo C70 is a Top Safety Pick, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

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2008 Volvo C70

Styling

The 2008 Volvo C70 sports an understated body and an interior that begs for double-takes.

The modern and softly sculpted design that is uniquely Volvo carries over unchanged from last year into the 2008 Volvo C70. While it's a little plain, the C70's shape is clean and well detailed with a minimum of clutter—and since it’s a hardtop convertible, it offers two styles in one, top up and top down.

Cars.com notes the C70 "features rounded corners and headlamps that are a far cry from the boxy Volvos of yore." While most current-day convertibles look better with the top down, the Volvo C70 makes an attractive appearance with the hardtop folded up or down. Of the exterior, Road & Track says the Volvo features "elegant and modernly handsome sheet metal" and does so while retaining its conservatively sporty image. Car and Driver says the C70 Volvo's "aggressive snoot and shrink-wrapped sheetmetal" provide for "seductive good looks."

The C70’s interior has a modern, classy design that’s both refreshing and comfortable. C70 Volvo inner details are warm and inviting, with contemporary touches such as the center area of the dashboard that Kelley Blue Book calls a "serious wow": a floating, wood-encased fascia. This is echoed at the Detroit News, reporting that the 2008 Volvo C70's "interior included laminated oak trim that is the best wood accent ever seen on a car...like weathered teak from a boat, carved grain outlining the ultra-slim center stack and console, with a few wooden touches throughout the cabin." Attractive interior design should come as no surprise, since "legendary Italian design studio Pininfarina collaborated on the design of the Volvo C70," according to ForbesAutos.

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2008 Volvo C70

Performance

The 2008 Volvo C70 has enough turbo power, but its handling feels more cruiser-friendly than sportscar hot.

Reviewers from around the Web find the 2008 Volvo C70 adequate rather than exciting when it comes to performance and handling.

With the 2008 Volvo C70 only coming in a single, T5 trim model, veteran Volvo drivers and new owners alike can enjoy the 227 horses generated by the turbocharged 2.5-liter, five-cylinder turbo powerplant. Nevertheless, Kelley Blue Book wishes for more of a boost, noting "a little more horsepower would turn the C70 from a satisfying ride to a thrilling one." ForbesAutos adds, "It's a little less speedy here, however, given the added weight of the C70's complex top mechanism." Edmunds adds that although the C70 Volvo's power is "certainly not blistering, the turbocharged engine provides enough low-end torque to get the C70 moving briskly enough from a stop."

Cars.com reports the Volvo C70 engine "mates with a six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic transmission with winter and manual shifting modes." ConsumerGuide says that the "automatic transmission is smooth and alert...the manual's shift action is a bit rubbery, but shifts are smooth and clean overall."

MacPherson struts up front and a multilink rear suspension in the back provide for spirited, smooth handling, even through the electric power steering isn't overly imposing. Kelley Blue Book says that the C70 Volvo "does a more-than-creditable job of finding the right balance between ride and handling for most luxury coupe-convertible drivers." ForbesAutos ventures further, commenting that the Volvo C70's suspension imbues "nimble handling and a refined ride." Volvo's Dynamic Stability and Traction Control system is standard, and gives the Volvo a civilized, inline drive in dry or wet conditions. This convertible is best suited, however, for straight-line cruising and coast blasting, as best put by Car and Driver: "the C70 [Volvo] had a tendency to wallow and pogo" on mountain roads, "a function of spring and damper rates selected for boulevard ride quality." ConsumerGuide reports that the Volvo C70 is "not sports-car nimble, but C70 corners with front-drive assurance, modest body lean, and tolerable noseplow."

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2008 Volvo C70

Comfort & Quality

Despite the few drawbacks unique to convertibles, the 2008 Volvo C70 offers intuitive and elegant refinements to create one of the best cabins in its class.

Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com are generally complimentary when it comes to the comfort and quality offered by the 2008 Volvo C70.

"The [Volvo] C70 seats four adults and features ergonomically shaped front seats," according to Cars.com. ConsumerGuide reports "adult-size room on comfortable, supportive seats...many seat and steering-wheel adjustments make it easy to find a comfortable driving stance," but "the rear seat is a token gesture...shaped for two only...scant legroom even with the front seats forward makes it very tight for most adults and many teens," adding that "entry and exit are for contortionists." The Detroit News praises "beautifully crafted leather seats that hold you in place snugly but don't try to squeeze you like a grandmother heading back to Alaska for a year." Kelley Blue Book proclaims, "Volvos have long been known for their fantastic seat comfort, and the C70 upholds that reputation."

Trunk space is good for a convertible, at 12.8 cubic feet with the top up, but unfortunately, with the space-consuming metal top sitting in the back, the cargo area is halved. Cars.com reports "objects can be stored in the trunk by opening a pass-thru between the two rear seating positions," while ConsumerGuide notes "lowering the top cuts ample trunk space in half, though a couple golf bags or medium suitcases still fit...the door map pockets barely hold standard gas-station maps."

Kelley Blue Book testers experienced excellent convertible civility, saying "the C70 can be a quiet, cozy closed coupe in a rain shower and a wide-open convertible in the sun at the touch of a button," which ForbesAutos notes can open or close the top in about 30 seconds. Regarding other aspects, ConsumerGuide says "the [C70 Volvo] cabin is solidly assembled with high-quality materials."

ForbesAutos posits that "when raised, the hard top is better at blocking noise and the elements" than both soft tops and other convertibles in the 2008 Volvo C70's class. ConsumerGuide remarks "there's little top-down wind buffeting...road roar is always audible with the 18-inch tires but isn't overbearing," and adds that the C70 Volvo engine "is quiet enough at cruise but fairly loud at full throttle."

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2008 Volvo C70

Safety

Driving doesn't get much safer than the 2008 Volvo C70.

Volvo has long been known for its commitment to automotive safety, and the 2008 Volvo C70 is no exception--and may even be a substantial leap forward.

While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not yet ranked the Volvo C70, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded the vehicle its highest safety rating, "good," in every category.

In addition to standard Volvo C70 safety features such as front occupant airbags, engineers at Volvo have included side curtain airbags, which are usually mounted in the roof. But as ForbesAutos reminds consumers, "because the C70's roof can disappear, Volvo mounted the head-curtain airbags in the door and made them deploy upward." Airbags also deflate at a slower rate to provide additional protection during a rollover.

According to Kelley Blue Book, an electronic stability system, side impact airbags, and anti-lock brakes are standard. Other C70 Volvo safety features include rollover and whiplash protection in addition to pop-up roll bars to keep passengers safe in a collision.

Regarding the 2008 Volvo C70's creative safety innovation, Cars.com adds, "New for 2008 are a tire pressure monitoring system and emergency brake lights, which are taillights that illuminate brighter under hard braking, such as when the antilock brakes activate."

The Blind Spot Information System warns drivers when a vehicle is in their blind spot, a seemingly redundant C70 Volvo feature when the top is down. TheCarConnection.com found that some drivers can get annoyed with the system.

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2008 Volvo C70

Features

The 2008 Volvo C70 has a lot to offer even before you start considering the optional features list.

Reviewers across the board were impressed with the features available on the 2008 Volvo C70.

Edmunds reports "available in only one trim level, T5, the C70 comes well-equipped with most modern convenience features." Among other features, the base (and only) Volvo C70 is equipped with a 2.5-liter, five-cylinder turbo, ABS braking and electronic stability control system, and six-speed manual transmission all standard. Vinyl seats, polished quasi-dual stainless steel tailpipe, airbags in every nook and cranny, and a power driver seat are included as well, according to ForbesAutos. A choice of standard brushed aluminum or laminated oak trim is also available for this year's Volvo C70.

TheCarConnection.com staffers note the 2008 Volvo C70 T5 comes well equipped right out of the factory, but a long list of premium upgrades only increases the indulgence of the C70 Volvo.

Perhaps most notable of the optional features is the Volvo C70 Dynaudio Sound System. Kelley Blue Book proclaims that whether it's "Green Day or Sinatra, music has rarely sounded as pure and clear as through the C70's audiophile-worthy system." Providing more detail, Cars.com says that as opposed to the standard stereo, which offers steering wheel controls, an MP3-input jack, and an in-dash, six-CD changer, the Dynaudio package "includes 12 speakers, Dolby surround sound, two subwoofers and five amplifiers."

An "integrated global positioning system (GPS) unit, heated front seats, leather or ultra-premium Sovereign Hide leather seats, and polished 18-inch, performance rubber-wrapped tires" are other available C70 Volvo extras, reports Kelley Blue Book.

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Styling 8
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 8
Safety 9
Features 9
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