2004 Volvo C70 convertible

May 6, 2004
When first looking at the Volvo C70 convertible, it's hard to distinguish it from any other midsize sedan.

The titanium gray fourdoor is pretty average looking with the top up. But its somewhat flashy interior — brown and red leather seats to start — is your first tip off that it's a high-class automobile. The metal accents on the shifter and dash resemble fishnet stockings, and a leather steering wheel and gearshift knob add to the car's modern, sporty look.

With a 2.4-liter turbocharged, intercooled engine, the C70 has no trouble staying ahead of the traffic. The powerplant provides 197 hp and 210 lb-ft of torque. It zoomed along very nicely, handled fairly well, and braking was extremely smooth.

I've never been a big fan of convertibles because of road noise, wind, and other discomforts, but the C70 converted me. A wind blocker keeps things intact inside the car. The front-wheel-drive C70 carries MacPherson struts, with coil springs and antiroll bars front and back, and semitrailing arms in the rear.

I always thought a stereo system useless in a convertible, but that's not the case in the C70. The design of the car lets wind flow around, not through it, eliminating extraneous noise so the 240-W premium audio system comes through loud and clear. A speaker mounted in the center of the dash and 13 other speakers provide surround sound.

Lowering the top is a quick, graceful operation. The job takes only minutes and one needs never to lift a finger except to push a button — it's all automatic. It's actually fun to watch, and it elicited oohs and aahs from friends and family. And as Volvo is especially safety conscious, the top will only go up or down when the car is in park.

The C70 is equipped with Rollover Protection System (ROPS) which, as the name implies, protects passengers in case of a rollover. The reinforced windshield pillar and frame, combined with automatic rollover bars at the rear, are designed to provide additional protection.

There are a myriad of safety features, including the patented Side Impact Protection System (SIPS), which distributes collision energy, reducing the risk of serious injury.

A trip to an event on a sunny day had the car filled with four passengers. Both rear passengers had ample legroom and commented on how comfortable the backseat was. Unfortunately, when letting one of the passengers out, the front seat became stuck and my husband had to ride in the back at one point. If I have any complaints, it's the difficulty of moving the seats forward to let rear passengers out.

Also, the steering was not as stiff as I'd like due to a lack of structural rigidity, which appears as a cowl shake, steering-column rattle, and clumsy handling at high speeds.

The base price for all this luxury is $43,335. If I had this kind of money, I would definitely consider buying this car. If you have your sights set on a convertible, you couldn't be much safer or comfortable than in a C70.

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