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Expert Reviews 1 of 3
By Anita And Paul Lienert
The Detroit News
August 4, 1999
It took Volvo more than four decades to produce a softtop. Judging from a recent test drive of the C70 convertible, the Swedish automaker, now a subsidiary of Ford Motor Co., should have spent a few more years perfecting the design. In its
$40,000-plus price bracket, the C70 has few rivals. Among them are the Saab 9-3, the BMW M3 and the Mercedes-Benz CLK320. But all three, for one reason or another, are more desirable than the Volvo. Our test car had a window sticker of $47,365,
yet didn't look or feel like a car that should cost that much. Our biggest compliment: The C70's safety features are among the best in class. He: We've seen very few C70 convertibles on the road since the car was introduced more than a year ago.
After spending some time in the latest edition, I can understand why. This is not a terribly attractive or appealing car, despite its Swedish heritage. She: When I drove the C70 coupe two years ago, it seemed almost like an anti-Volvo - no more
boxy lines, but a series of graceful curves and sculpted creases. But I thought the C70 was quite luxurious inside, and I was happy to see Volvo did not scrimp on safety. All the familiar features that I've come to appreciate on Volvos are there on the
C70 convertible. You get standard anti-lock brakes, daytime running lights, front and side air bags, plus seat-belt pretensioners for all four occupants. The convertible also has two steel rollover bars that pop up from behind the rear seats if the car
starts to turn on its side. And Volvo has installed a new system it calls Stability and Traction Control that helps reduce wheelspin when the roads are wet or slippery. He: Volvo also has installed a high-performance engine - a turbocharged
2.3-liter twin-cam five-cylinder that delivers 236 horsepower. That's more juice than either the Saab 9-3 or the Mercedes CLK320, and nearly as much as the BMW M3. With the standard five-speed manual, the C70 is fun to drive, although hard-core
enthusiasts no doubt will prefer the rear-wheel-drive layout of the M3. She: The C70 does have a sporty feel, and it has all the equipment that sports-car fans love - stuff such as four-wheel disc brakes, front and rear stabilizer bars and 16-inch
Pirelli P6000 all-season radials on alloy wheels. And yet the ride is quite comfortable - not as plush as, say, the S80 sedan, but not as harsh or stiff as some of the convertibles we've tested. He: There are several things that bug me about the
C70. One is purely subjective. I just don't care much for the look of the car when the top is up. But we also had trouble with parts falling off the car. The biggest problem was with the plastic shroud that covers the overhead light. It's built into the
convertible top, and it kept coming off in our hands and was difficult to snap back into place. That's not the sort of quality I expect from a car that costs almost 50 grand. She: The M3 has always felt like more of a guy car
to me. I think Mercedes paid a little more attention to women's needs, especially in the areas of convenience and comfort. It looks like Volvo has done the same with the C70. I liked the little touches, such as the pollen and dust filter, the red walnut
trim and the handsome bucket seats with leather facing. I'm not sure I'd want to spend any amount of time in the rear seats, but the cabin otherwise is really comfortable and inviting. He: Considering the steep price and its foibles, I can't give
the C70 convertible more than two stars. For the money, I'd rather buy one of the German convertibles. Hopefully, I'd have enough left over for a Polish cookbook. 1999 Volvo C70 Convertible Anita's rating: above average Paul's rating:
acceptable Type: Front-engine, front-wheel-drive, four-passenger convertible Price: Base, $45,420; as tested, $47,365 (including $575 destination charge) Engine: 2.3-liter I-5; 236 hp at 5,400 rpm; 244 lb-ft
rque at 2,400 rpm EPA fuel economy: 19 mpg city/26 mpg highway 12-month insurance cost, according to AAA Michigan*: $1,741 (* Estimate. Rates may be higher or lower, depending on coverage and driving record.) Where built:
Uddevalla, Sweden What we liked: Pretty slinky profile for a Volvo; amazing safety features for a convertible; potent turbocharged five-cylinder engine makes 236 hp; reasonable fuel economy for a performance car What we didn't like:
Plastic cover for overhead light fell off in our hands; doesn't look or feel like a $47,000 car; for the money, we'd rather own a BMW or a Mercedes-Benz; not particularly attractive with the top up; poor visibility to the sides and rear