Intriguing all-season motoring in the international Volvo C70 |

Intriguing all-season motoring in the international Volvo C70

Andy Stonehouse
summit daily auto writer

2011 Volvo C70 convertible

Precise and absolutely European styling and design are the reasons one should opt for a Chinese-Swedish convertible, if you follow what I’m saying.

The 2011 version of the Volvo C70 convertible, an automobile now of truly international pedigree, has the same high-end vibe as a drop-top manufactured by BMW or Mercedes, but doesn’t proffer itself as a guaranteed money pit.

Rather, the now Asian-owned European carmaker (bought out by Geely Motors of China, severing the ties to Ford) continues to craft an attractive, reasonably sporty and pleasant all-season machine that … well, owing to Volvo’s traditions of forward-looking safety, probably has some sort of anti-asteroid protection system lurking under the hood.

C70’s distinctive character is razor sharp. While it performs the same wind-in-your-hair duties as a Chrysler Sebring, it’s approximately 50,000 times cooler looking. My particular tester had a Flamenco red exterior and a white leather interior that looked like Tom Jones’s wardrobe in 1975 – white leather, happily, keeping one’s thighs from sizzling on those summer days with the top down.

Like most of the Volvo line, the C70 features the world’s most streamlined and graceful console control panel, so you don’t suffer Euro-Car-Button-Overload.

And while it’s not the fastest machine on the block – the American edition is equipped with a turbocharged 2.5-liter five-cylinder producing 227 horsepower, with a couple of smaller diesel engines available overseas – the power is proficient and never seemed to be short in supply, even while hustling all 4,700 pounds of Swedish-made metal around. And earning a real-world 26 miles per gallon in the process.

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The fantastically complicated top mechanism, which lifts the three-piece metal roof and completely hides it under the trunk deck when you’re looking for UV rays, is a little labored and noisy – but still slick. The clean design is sexy both while deployed and stored away, unlike many drop-tops; the rear window is real glass and therefore begins to qualify the vehicle as an actual four-season machine, at least on paper.

But in order to make it all work, the trunk is crammed with one of those luggage shrouds and, with roof stored away, you end up with a fairly small space for bags, so … keep that in mind during summer excursions. Rear passengers will rejoice in the fact that there is indeed real room for rear passengers.

Out on the road, top down, C70 returns impressively intuitive handling. There’s negligible body flex, despite the retractable roof, and if anything the ride can be a tad brittle on rutted pavement. Otherwise, turning and braking were fine and the optional 18-inch wheels and all-seasons made for a pleasantly sporting experience.

My C70 was equipped with a small, well-designed, pop-up navigation screen, operated by a small control on the inside of the sportily designed steering wheel, complete with Sirius Real Time traffic in urban areas.

The optional Dynaudio system also packs 12 speakers and a subwoofer system to blast away while rolling topless.

C70’s only real troubles relate to its grand scale, with reasonably large doors that cry out for large parking spots to comfortably load and unload your passengers and a rear trunk lid that’s very, very heavy given all of that roof mechanics beneath.

Safety-wise, the blind spot information system is an option, as well as “active bending” xenon headlamps that turn to focus as you drive along. In case of a spill, the convertible is also equipped with metal hoops that shoot up behind the passenger headrests, part of the car’s rollover protection system.