Volvos curvaceous front-wheel-drive coupe and convertible have not been stellar performers in the sales race, even though each attracted a modest group of fans. For 2003, the coupe has been dropped, leaving only a soft-top C70.
When introduced for the 1998 model year, the Swedish-built C70 coupe was Volvos first move away from the traditional boxy profile. Convertibles followed a year later. Two inline-five-cylinder engines remain available for 2003: a 2.4-liter light-pressure turbocharger and a more potent 2.3-liter high-pressure turbocharger. Outputs have risen by 7 horsepower for the light-pressure engine and 6 hp for its high-pressure counterpart.
Exterior freshening includes a new black eggcrate grille and jeweled headlights and taillights. New 17-inch Cratos alloy wheels are used, and three new body colors are available. New color-coordinated speaker grilles appear inside. Volvos electronic stability system, called Dynamic Stability Traction Control, became standard on all C70 models after the start of the 2002 model year.
Smooth, curvaceous lines characterize the two-door C70. Except for a traditional, Volvo-type vertical grille, the C70 has few design features that distinguish it from other brands.
The convertibles power-operated top contains a glass rear window with a defogger. Front and rear fog lights are standard. At 185.7 inches long overall and 56.3 inches high, the C70 is 5.5 inches longer and 2 inches taller than the Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class convertible.
Only four occupants fit inside. The C70 beats a number of other two-door models in terms of interior space, but the rear seating positions may be cramped for adults. A power front-passenger seat slides forward slowly to help ease rear access, but getting in and out of the backseat can be a battle. Cargo capacity totals 7.9 cubic feet.
Under the Hood
Two inline-five-cylinder engines are available. Operating with a light-pressure turbocharger, the 2.4-liter engine produces 197 hp. For extra performance, a 242-hp 2.3-liter with a high-pressure turbocharger is available. The light-pressure engine teams with a five-speed-automatic transmission, while the high-pressure version gets either the automatic or a five-speed-manual gearbox.
Standard equipment includes dual-stage front airbags, side-impact airbags, daytime running lights, all-disc antilock brakes and Volvos Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS), which moves the front seats rearward in a collision. The side-impact airbags are designed to protect the occupants chest, head and upper body. Volvos Stability Traction Control system is also available. A rollover protection system uses pop-up steel bars.
After a drive in the convertible, one wonders why these stunningly shaped, Swedish-made two-doors failed to achieve sales success. High prices are definitely part of the reason, but performance and comfort abound in these modern-day Volvos.
Like other Volvos, the C70 exhibits a heavy feel overall. Steering demands some effort, but it pays off in solid road behavior and superior highway handling. On city streets, however, the ride can get rough. Assembly quality is solid and tight, and the C70 makes an appealing choice for a long trip.