2013 Volvo C70 Convertible Review

Out-classed and over-priced

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2013 Volvo C70 Convertible Review
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After spending a few hours in the Volvo C70 hardtop convertible, the car had me scratching my head. After spending a full week with it, it had me wanting to tear my hair out by the roots.

FAST FACTS

1. Powering the C70 is a turbocharged 5-cylinder making 227-hp and 236 lb-ft of torque

2. Priced at $40,990 to start, Platinum models start at $44,790.

3. A $3,900 Inscription package adds 18-inch wheels, xenon headlights, a rear spoiler, custom grille, upgraded interior and a power upgrade to 250-hp and 273 lb-ft of torque.

Every car we test has its good points and bad points, hopefully with the good outweighing the bad. Not so with the C70. This is one of the few cars we just couldn’t wait to get rid of.

TURBOCHARGED ENGINE A LONE HIGH POINT

First, lets discuss the positives. The base C70 is powered by a 2.5-liter five-cylinder turbocharged engine that puts out 227-hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. Our test car had the “Inscription” trim level which boosts engine performance to 250-hp and 273 lb-ft. As a result the car is peppy and accelerates the 3,837 lb car nicely away from stop lights. A 0-60 time of 7.4 seconds is slow for this class of car though and the brand’s turbocharged six-cylinder would help improve the experience immensely. Yet even with the five, torque steer is evident and hardly becoming on such a premium model.

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Power goes to the front wheels through a 5-speed automatic transmission, this in an era when even six speeds are outdated and most use 7- or 8-speed units. Regardless, fuel economy isn’t bad at 19 mpg city and 28 mpg highway.

Equipped with a manual shifting feature, upshifts can be measured with an hourglass. 

EXCESSIVELY RELAXED

After only a few minutes and a few turns, it’s obvious that the folks at Volvo designed this to be a boulevard cruiser. We can’t fault the car for being what it was designed for, but even as a boulevard cruiser, the suspension is too spongy, and there’s enough body lean in turns to make you nauseous. To be fair, on smooth pavement or on the highway, the C70 is comfortable.  On rough and broken pavement there is too much cowl shake for a car in this price range, or any price range for that matter. Steering is overly light with numb feel and feedback, but the brakes are strong with good pedal feel.

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The car’s retractable hardtop works well, and with the top down leaves a larger trunk space than most other steel top convertible models. Not much more, but every little bit helps. The top operation presented the first of many quirks. When you lower the top, all four windows will crack open a few inches while the top folds down. Once it is fully stowed, all four windows will go back up, rather than down. So you have to push all four window buttons to lower them. When the top goes up, the windows will close, like you’d expect.

INTERIOR UNDERWHELMS...

The cabin is where the C70 disappoints on a grand scale.  The “Inscription” trim level is a $3,900 option and includes the higher output engine, 18-inch wheels, xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights, a rear spoiler, gloss finish grill, an upgraded interior with leather covered dash and contrasting stitching, aluminum sport pedals, Inscription embroidered front seats, a leather covered handbrake lever and center armrest, and a sport steering wheel with aluminum inserts. The seats are comfortable, but only 6-way adjustable, and no lumbar support.

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While the leather is premium the rest is Spartan with cheap looking materials that resemble an economy car more than an upscale luxury car. If this is the upgraded interior, we wouldn’t want to see the base version.

Hard surfaces on the doors mean pain when you rest your arm there. If you move your left arm to the door rest, your elbow sits in the hard plastic door pull cut-out.

The Platinum Package adds a pop-up Navigation System, premium sound system, keyless drive, rear park assist, Homelink and a compass for a whopping $3,600. The climate package for $1,000 adds heated seats, rain sensing wipers and an Interior Air Quality System. Add $500 more for metallic paint and the bottom line comes to $50,375.

… AND INFURIATES

The Nav system pops up from the top of the dash and sits just in front of the windshield.  It is too far away for the driver to reach, so Volvo requires the driver to use a hand held remote control to operate the system, perhaps the most ridiculous feature we’ve ever seen. To access local restaurant locations, or other information, you’ve got to look down at the remote to toggle through the menu on the screen. Talk about distracted driving! Putting in an address with it is torturous. I’d rather deal with the first generation BMW i-Drive dial.

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The center stack is a large, brushed aluminum panel that runs from the top of the dash to the bottom where it meets the console. There is a lot of real estate on that piece, but the designers chose to put a tiny phone-like dial pad, which doubles as the radio preset buttons. The buttons are so small, they are difficult to use. And the rest of the controls for directing where the Heat/AC airflow, the phone and radio mode controls, the heated seat switches, etc. are part of the same button console and are made for children’s fingers. 

Those looking for extra storage will find a cubby located behind the base of the center stack, though it’s hard to see and even harder to reach and use. 

Speaking of hard to reach and use, the door pockets for storage are another source of frustration. There is an open pocket about six inches long, which makes it hard to store anything there.  Just aft of that is another enclosed storage pocket. But the door is hinged at the top, so when you open it, you can’t see what’s in the compartment and you can barely fit your hand into it. Had it been left open or with a hinge at the bottom, it would be more usable. Just poor design.

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The center armrest is small although it does have a USB port and iPod attachment inside, though the latches feel like cheap plastic. The upgraded radio sounded good – at least for everything except the AM band. There was so much static on that band that you couldn’t listen to any AM station. 

The rear seat area is tight for adults. What we thought was a fold down armrest turned out to be a removable cover for the fix-a-flat tire repair kit. It isn’t hinged or attached in any way. Replacing that cover turned out to be a bumbling and expletive laced affair.

THE VERDICT

Nothing about the interior seems to have been well thought out, or executed. With a price tag of over $50,000 one should expect a luxury car experience and the C70 just doesn’t deliver.

The Lexus IS350C would dance circles around the Volvo for a few grand less and there are so many other excellent and powerful convertibles in this price range, from Mercedes to Infiniti. We’d even wager that in some respects the Chrysler 200 Convertible would offer a compelling alternative with horsepower and a tighter ride with more amenities. The C70 just doesn’t cut it against the competition.

Would we park it in our garage? There’s only one answer to that question: is it free?

LOVE IT
  • Peppy turbo 5-cylinder engine
LEAVE IT
  • Poorly designed cabin with low grade materials
  • Soft suspension with too much body roll and cowl shake
  • Luxury price, economy car feel

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