2009 Volvo C70 Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Trevor Wild Trevor Wild Author
June 3, 2009

The C70 fills the space of the former Coupe (discontinued in 2002) and the Convertible (discontinued in 2004). It's less sleek than the cars it replaces, and while it's a little plain, the C70's shape is clean and well detailed with a minimum of clutter.

TheCarConnection.com's editors drove the new Volvo C70 in order to give you an expert opinion. TheCarConnection.com's auto experts then researched available road tests on the new Volvo C70 to produce this conclusive review and to help you find the truth where other reviews might differ.

The limited space inside the 2009 Volvo C70 restricts the amount of cargo or number of friends you can invite along, but with the top down, the C70 is a blast of fresh air. The 2009 C70 mates a folding hardtop to a four-seat cabin, a front-wheel-drive layout, and a turbocharged engine.

Powering the 2009 Volvo C70 is a 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder producing 227 horsepower. C70s come standard with a six-speed manual transmission or an optional five-speed automatic. The manual transmissions have sweet linkages, but the automatic clicks off shifts without an ounce of drama. Both transmissions mate well with the turbo's whizzy, high-energy thrust. Volvo says the manual C70 will accelerate 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 mpg city, 27 highway with the manual, 18/26 mpg with the automatic.

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. Electric power steering is probably the most controversial bit, but it's well tuned here, with realistic response and feel. MacPherson struts in front and a multilink rear suspension help the 2009 Volvo C70 maintain good ride control and entertaining handling.

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Top up, the 2009 Volvo 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. At the push of a button and a foot on the brake, the C70's top lowers in 30 seconds and folds away in the trunk.

The front is the place to ride: The slick console design is styled like high-end audio equipment, there's aluminum trim (replacing the light oak trim for 2009), and in general, the theme is Scandinavian modern. 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.

Volvo’s reputation for safety doesn’t ebb just because this is a convertible. 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 2009 Volvo C70 is a Top Safety Pick, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Changes to the C70 for 2009 are minimal, but they do exist. The six-disc CD player is swapped from a standard item to a feature of the Premium Package, but Volvo makes standard a Bluetooth hands-free phone interface. The Volvo DVD-based navigation system improves, via its driver interface that now features scroll-along route in scroll mode, extended point-of-interest menu, bird-view map with detailed intersection and building footprints, and a unique "Map Care" program that provides two map updates.

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2009 Volvo C70

Styling

The 2009 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.

The 2009 Volvo C70 sports an understated body and an interior that begs for double-takes. While it's a little plain, the uniquely Volvo design carries over unchanged from last year.

Of the exterior, Road & Track says the Volvo features "elegant and modernly handsome sheet metal" while retaining its conservatively sporty image. Car and Driver asserts the C70 Volvo's "aggressive snoot and shrink-wrapped sheetmetal" provide for "seductive good looks." 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 bears an attractive appearance with the hardtop folded up or down.

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. 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 2009 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."

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2009 Volvo C70

Performance

When it comes to performance and handling, the 2009 Volvo C70 is more adequate than exciting.

The 2009 Volvo C70 has enough turbo power, but its handling feels more cruiser-friendly than sports car hot.

Edmunds says 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." Kelley Blue Book wishes for a bigger boost, noting "a little more horsepower would turn the C70 from a satisfying ride to a thrilling one." ForbesAutos comments, "It's a little less speedy here, however, given the added weight of the C70's complex top mechanism." With the 2009 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,

ConsumerGuide contends that the "automatic transmission is smooth and alert...the manual's shift action is a bit rubbery, but shifts are smooth and clean overall."  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."

This convertible is best suited for straight-line cruising and coast blasting, best expressed 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." 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. 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.

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2009 Volvo C70

Comfort & Quality

Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com are generally complimentary when it comes to the comfort and quality offered by the 2009 Volvo C70.

Despite the few drawbacks unique to convertibles, the 2009 Volvo C70 offers intuitive and elegant refinements to create one of the best cabins in its class.

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." According to Cars.com, "The [Volvo] C70 seats four adults and features ergonomically shaped front seats." 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."

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."

Regarding the C70's convertible civility, ConsumerGuide says, "the [C70 Volvo] cabin is solidly assembled with high-quality materials." Kelley Blue Book testers contend "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.

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." ForbesAutos remarks that "when raised, the hard top is better at blocking noise and the elements" than both soft tops and other convertibles in the 2009 Volvo C70's class.

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2009 Volvo C70

Safety

Volvo has long been known for its commitment to automotive safety, and the 2009 Volvo C70 is no exception, even though it permits open-air fun.

Driving doesn't get much safer than the 2009 Volvo C70—even though it’s a convertible.

In every category, the 2009 Volvo C70 receives the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) highest safety rating, "good." The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not yet ranked the Volvo C70.

Regarding the 2009 Volvo C70's creative safety innovation, 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. Cars.com says, "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."

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

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.

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2009 Volvo C70

Features

Reviewers across the board were impressed with the features available on the 2009 Volvo C70.

The 2009 Volvo C70 has a lot to offer even before you start considering the optional features list. TheCarConnection.com staffers note the 2009 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.

Changes to the features of the 2009 C70 are minimal, but they do exist. The six-disc CD player is swapped from a standard item to a feature of the Premium Package, but Volvo makes standard a Bluetooth hands-free phone interface. The Volvo DVD-based navigation system is improved via its driver interface that now features scroll-along route in scroll mode, extended point-of-interest menu, bird-view map with detailed intersection and building footprints, and a unique "Map Care" program that provides two map updates.

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."

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 as standard. Edmunds reports, "available in only one trim level, T5, the C70 comes well-equipped with most modern convenience features."
According to ForbesAutos, vinyl seats, polished quasi-dual stainless steel tailpipe, airbags in every nook and cranny, and a power driver seat are included as well.

Kelley Blue Book notes 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.

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