From a car company that has always seemed to be focused on designing cars around safety, the Volvo C70 has been a refreshingly sporty and fun-to-drive car since its introduction in 1998. Now with Volvo's design language taking a new step forward, the drop-top C70 finally has a styling to match its spirit for 2011. The 2011 Volvo C70 uses Volvo's new signature design element, that can also found on Volvo XC60, the 2011 Volvo C30 and the all-new 2011 Volvo S60, to give it a more competitive look up against other hardtop convertibles on the market.
For some time, the Volvo C70 was alone when it came to being a luxury convertible with a retractable hardtop, but now most of the competitors have caught up including the Volkswagen Eos, BMW 3 Series and the all-new Lexus IS C and Infiniti G37 Convertible. The 2011 Volvo C70 is only available in a single trim level as the C70 T5 with a base MSRP of $40,000. Even with a handful of optional technology and safety packages, the car I reviewed still had a reasonable as-tested price of $46,550. With the Florida weather finally starting to get back to its normal warm and sunny weather, I was actually able to test out the updated C70 including plenty of top-down time.
2011 Volvo C70 Exterior
Easily distinguishable by the new front end, the 2011 Volvo C70 now has a sportier, more athletic look to better keep up with some of the competition. Changes to the front end include sleeker headlamps, a larger, more stylish grille and a front fascia design which all help to give the 2011 C70 a more aggressive styling than the round and stubby nose of the 2006-2010 model. Aside from the changes up front, the only other updates to the exterior design are the new LED taillights. With the top up or down, the new C70 instantly has a meaner attitude to give it the looks of a true sports coupe. Finishing off the new styling, this test model came equipped with optional 18-inch, five-spoke alloy wheels and a Flamenco Red Metallic paint job which really makes this car stand out.
2011 Volvo C70 Interior
With the stylishly updated exterior, one thing that has remained unchanged is the elegant and practical cabin. On the elegant side, the seats and door panels are covered in soft, Sovereign Hide Premium Calcite (light tan) leather with dark contrasts on the side trim panels as well as the center console. Every touch point inside the C70 is covered in some upscale material including the real aluminum inlays that are used on the thick, sport steering wheel and on the shift lever, but even the instrument panel gets a soft-touch, grainy texture to it. For the practical side, the interior features many hidden storage compartments for front and rear occupants as well as a center pass through to the trunk for longer, bulkier items. Thankfully, the Volvo C70 does deliver plenty of cargo space in the trunk since the glove box is rather small and is the only lockable storage compartment inside the car. The C70 has 12.8 cubic feet of storage space with the top up and 6.0 cubic feet with the top down - both significantly more than what the Lexus and Infiniti convertibles offer.
Speaking of other convertibles on the market, the Volvo C70 probably has the best retractable hardtop setup on the market. With the top up, the headliner is firm and uses a rich, upscale material to match what's used on the seats, and when putting the three-piece top down, it folds back almost silently without sounding clunky or squeaky like some other systems. It takes just under 30 seconds to transform the C70 from a coupe into a convertible with an easy-to-use button mounted on the center console. One problem I noticed with the C70 is that on some occasions, the fender-mounted whip antenna would get caught by the decklid, but its rubberized construction allowed it to take such abuse and pop out of the way without causing major interference.
This particular model came equipped with many optional upgrades including Multimedia Package ($2,600), Dynamic Package ($1,000) Climate Package ($900) and Blind Spot Information System ($700). The Multimedia Package adds a 12-speaker, 650-watt Dynaudio in addition to the navigation system with pop-up screen and remote control operation, while the Dynamic and Climate Packages add equipment such as the sport steering wheel, 18-inch ally wheels, dual Xenon active headlights and heated seats.
2011 Volvo C70 Performance & Handling
Despite the sporty new look on the updated C70, the only powertrain change for the 2011 model is the omission of the manual transmission as an option. The turbocharged 2.5-liter five-cylinder continues to be the only engine available and it produces 227 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque, but now all of that power is routed to the front wheels through a five-speed automatic transmission. This transmission still features the Geartronic manual shift mode, but it is a shame that such a fun-to-drive car has lost its six-speed manual option. In terms of performance, the C70 stands somewhere between the Lexus IS250C and the Infiniti G37 Convertible, and the fuel economy mirrors this with EPA estimates of 19 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.
One surprising aspect to the new C70 is that Volvo's official spec sheet has it weighing 210 pounds more than the 2010 model which is probably somewhat related to the lack of a manual transmission. While this weight is less than the Lexus and Infiniti convertibles, both competing models feel more balanced in cornering maneuvers while the C70 delivers a smoother, more upscale ride quality. This isn't to say that the 2011 C70 isn't quick as it offers a broad torque curve that starts at 1,500 rpm and has been increased for 2011 up to 5,000 rpm (4,800 rpm in the 2010). Overall, the ride and handling of the 2011 Volvo C70 is a testament to the solid construction of the C70 which is evident when driving the car thanks to minimal squeaks, rattles and road noise - common problems with most convertibles.
2011 Volvo C70 Safety
A staple of Volvo vehicles, the Volvo C70 has received perfect marks in safety from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) but no tests have been performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on any second-generation (2006-current) C70 models. The IIHS gave the Volvo C70 ratings of Good for frontal-, side- and rear-impact protection but did not test it for roof strength. Standard safety features for the 2011 Volvo C70 include six airbags (including door-mounted inflatable side curtain), Volvo Whiplash Protection System for front passengers, four-wheel anti-lock brake system, electronic brake-force distribution with emergency brake assistance and Dynamic Stability Traction Control (DSTC). For added safety in the event of a rollover collision, it offers extra high strength steel, hydro-formed A-pillars and a Rollover Protection System that deploys from behind the rear-seat headrests if a rollover is detected.
Looking at the new Volvo C70, it is apparent that Volvo isn't satisfied in just being known as a safety-minded automaker any more. The new design language gives the 2011 Volvo C70 convertible a much sportier appearance to match its peppy turbocharged engine. As is the case with all current Volvo models, the interior quality is among the best in the industry with a stylish, luxurious layout and an impressive use of materials throughout the cabin. Although it may be lacking raw performance compared to the competition, the 2011 Volvo C70 is among the top when it comes to delivering the total package for a luxury convertible.