"The Volvo C70 has style in abundance and a clever folding hard top, but a dull driving experience lets it down."
The Volvo C70 isn’t cheap, but it is a good-value, four-seat convertible when compared to rivals from BMW and Audi. It can’t match the Germans for prestige or driver appeal, but it's well built, good looking and in diesel form relatively cheap to run. It's also comfortable, with a one-touch electric folding hard top that's easy to use, and means the car's almost as comfortable as a fixed-roof coupé. There's a wide trim range, but even base level ES versions feel like quality cars, and either of the two diesel engines are quiet and economical.
Don’t think of the C70 as a sporty car and you won’t be disappointed - it's built for comfort. The driving position is good, with a lot of steering wheel and seat adjustment so even the tallest drivers will get comfortable. There's no clutch footrest, though, and the foot well feels cramped. There's lightness to the C70's controls, with a steering wheel that's effortless to turn, a precise, short-throw gearshift and light pedals. Add in the very simple and clear instrument cluster, and the Volvo C70 is very easy to drive. All three engines - even the slowest 148bhp D3 diesel - provide lots of low-rev pulling power.
The C70 is far better suited to low-speed cruising than anything else, because in corners there's quite a lot of body roll. And while it's not too noisy on the motorway, there is some wind whistle to deal with because there's no pillar between the front and rear side windows. Around town, the C70 is unfazed by potholes and broken tarmac, never letting them vibrate the cabin harshly. Diesel engine clatter is well contained too, and the car does a good job of deflecting wind away from the cabin with the top down.
Standard electronic stability control helps prevent the car from skidding, and six airbags protect occupants in the event of a collision. There's also a pair of pop-up rollover bars, should the C70 turn upside down. Build quality is good, with all the upper interior surfaces covered in plastic that's coloured tastefully and feels soft to the touch. However, there's little or no discernable difference between the C70's cabin and that of the much cheaper C30 hatchback, which could grate on owners in this style-conscious market. Volvo's reliability is generally sound, although the C70 has been subject to a couple of recalls, including one for a faulty gearbox.
No convertible could be considered for practicality reasons. The C70's rear seats are certainly roomier than those of some rivals, but they’re for small children only - there's very little leg or headroom. The 200-litre boot is compromised too because the metal roof folds into it, but there's enough space for two overnight bags or a week's worth of shopping.
Value for money
The D3 and D4 engines have differing power outputs (148bhp and 175bhp respectively) but boast the same 47.9mpg fuel economy and 154g/km CO2 emissions. That's not bad for this sort of car, especially in the context of the 30.1mpg of the 225bhp petrol T5 version. Volvo servicing costs are high, but the company does offer a fixed-price deal to spread the cost over the ownership of the car.
The C70 is an expensive car. Stick with either the D3 or D4 diesel to recoup as much money as you can when it comes to selling on. All models have alloy wheels, air-conditioning and cruise control, but SE Premium adds plush leather upholstery and satellite navigation. That's as high a specification as you should need.