The all-new C70, which sheds the old canvas top for a snazzy new retractable hardtop, is a much better vehicle than its predecessor. But it's also way more expensive, with a starting price of $39,405. Our test car was loaded with options and had a bottom line of $44,075.
SHE: We put at least 500 miles on the new C70 over the course of a week -- in pouring rainstorms and on perfect Michigan days. I fell in love with it because it's a great all-weather car.
HE: Uh, let's not get too gushy here. I mean, a Subaru all-wheel-drive wagon is a great all-weather car, right?
SHE: Okay, you big bully. Let me tell you the truth. I got home from church one Sunday morning, and there was a guy -- and his dog -- waiting in the driveway to check out the Volvo. Of course, I showed him how the top worked and took him for a ride. And he told me I looked good in it. Bingo. Five stars.
HE: So was it the compliment or the dog that really got your attention? Don't answer that. Just give me a minute to grouse about the Volvo, which is breathtakingly expensive for a car that shares its basic underpinnings with the $14,000 Mazda3. Sorry, honey. You can put a dog in the back seat of the C70 -- and that's just about all that will fit back there --and it still wouldn't justify that $44,000 sticker.
SHE: If I had my way, the dog would be in the front seat and you in the back. Besides, the Volvo is not just a guy-getter -- it's a grocery-getter, too. Unlike most convertibles, which are dreadfully impractical, I was able to get five overstuffed grocery bags in the trunk with no problem, and I probably could have squeezed in a big bag of dog food, too. So you get hipness, practicality and an awesome, robotic-like top that just stuns people as they watch it go up and down. That's worth the price of admission alone.
HE: Good Lord, that power top takes DAYS to go down or up. Although I have to admit, it's still a pretty cool ride. I noticed, too, how quiet things are with the top up, unlike the old canvas-roof model. The turbocharged five-cylinder engine under the hood makes 218 horsepower, but I wouldn't mind having just a little more juice. And where does Volvo get off charging $1,250 for an optional automatic transmission? That's robbery.
SHE: I found the C70's cabin to be irresistible, not to mention very Swedish. The car has that minimalist, ultra-thin center stack that holds things like the climate controls, which are very intuitive. If you want more cool air blowing on you, just press the icon of the head. The seats are comfortable, too, at least for the driver and front passenger.
HE: I applaud Volvo for not abandoning its core value of safety. This has to be one of the safest convertibles on the market, with such standard features as stability and traction control, antilock brakes, anti-whiplash headrests, plus side air bags and curtains to protect your head and torso.
SHE: The fuel economy's pretty decent, too -- 21 mpg in the city, according to the EPA, and 29 on the highway. And the standard amenities are noteworthy, including a dust/pollen filter for the cabin, a six-disc in-dash CD changer, audio controls in the steering wheel and lighted footwells.
HE: Every woman needs lighted footwells.
SHE: Hey, I haven't driven every one, but so far this is my favorite convertible of the 2006 model year, with high scores in sex appeal, safety and fuel economy. If that's not a good all-around car, I don't know what is.
2006 Volvo C70
Type: Front-engine, front-wheel drive, four-passenger coupe/convertible.
Price: Base, $39,405 (inc. $695 shipping charge); as tested, $44,075.
Engine: 2.5-liter I-5; 218-hp; 236 lb-ft torque.
EPA fuel economy: 21 mpg city/29 mpg highway.
Where built: Sweden
Estimated 12-month insurance cost, according to AAA Michigan: $1,771
Likes: Very nice all-weather car. Beautiful styling, sleek profile. Clever and convenient retractable hardtop. Quieter inside than softtop C70. Easy to operate. Cool ultra-slim center stack. I was able to fit five bags of groceries in trunk.
Dislikes: Top takes way too long to retract. Seams on three-piece top are not attractive. Lots of creaking and groaning of body panels when roof is up. No room for adults in the rear seat.
Likes: Better looking than predecessor. Decent fuel economy. Outstanding safety features. Tilt/telescope steering column. Standard 17-inch wheels and tires.
Dislikes: Way too expensive for a car that's based on the Ford Focus. No navigation system on a $44,000 luxury car. Automatic transmission costs $1,250 extra. Noisy fan on HVAC. Turbo 2.5L I-5 could use more power.
He drove, she drove Anita and Paul Lienert are partners in Lienert & Lienert, a Detroit-based automotive information services company.