First Glance: Familiar face, trick top
On to its most distinctive aspect, the hardtop. Put the C70 in park, press a button, and voila! In a tick under 30 seconds, the trunk lid raises and the roof separates in three pieces then slides backward and stacks inside the cargo area (link goes to photo), all in an impressive display of mechanics and whirrs. Reversing the procedure achieves the security of a coupe, complete with a premium fabric headliner that makes it easy to forget that one is driving a convertible. Try that trick with most soft tops, no matter how well they’re constructed.
In The Driver’s Seat: Comfortable, attractive and safe
It’s easy to achieve a sense of serenity in the C70 thanks to typical Volvo attention to comfort. With well-padded cushions, great lumbar support, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and 8-way power seats, the front chairs invite lounging. Rear seaters don’t fare badly, either; with 33.9 inches of legroom, it’s not a bad place to spend a bit of time.
The C70 makes use of the S40’s floating dash, a slick design composed of brushed aluminum that resembles the slim elegance of a Razr phone. You can even secure small items behind the center panel. My test vehicle was equipped with the pricey Dynaudio sound system that pumped out multi-layered sound even at freeway speeds with the top down. I'm also fond of the quirky climate system pictogram that depicts where you’d prefer airflow, but overall ergonomics aren’t as intuitive and simple as you’d find in other vehicles.
Volvo pioneered the side curtain airbags that expand upward from the windowsills to help avoid head and shoulder injuries, even when the windows are down. True to Volvo heritage, the C70 is chock-full of active and passive safety gear too numerous to list here. Suffice it to say that Volvo takes the responsibility for your well-being very seriously.
On The Road: Long on sun, short on sport
But the C70 is no performance vehicle. With little communication from the steering wheel and plenty of lean in corners, this is not the car to be running hard and fast along the tempting curves toward Big Sur. Rather, it’s a GT of the traditional kind, soaking up bumps and ruts and keeping jostles to a minimum. Notably missing are those hobgoblins of convertibles, cowl shake and chassis flex; the engineers have done an admirable job of providing a stable driving experience. Powering the C70 is a turbocharged 5-cylinder engine making 218 horsepower. Low-end power is lackluster, but you can keep the revs high by rowing the Geartronic automatic or opting for the 6-speed manual.
Journey’s End: Good, but the competition is stiff
During my test drive, the C70 proved to be a talented jack-of-many-trades, transforming from a comfortable, attractive coupe to an invigorating convertible with a mere press of a button. You can buy any vehicle, but the experience of driving up the coast, chasing the amber sunset with the wind in your hair, your favorite person beside you, and not a care in the world, may just be priceless. -- Liz Kim