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Volvo C70 D3 SE Lux

Click to view picture gallery“Forty-plus to the gallon, handsome
  looks and all-year-round roof-up,
  roof-down practicality plus a fully-
  automatic retractable metal hardtop
  all add up to a very agreeable C70
  ownership experience

NOT EVERYONE WANTS TO DRIVE like a bat out of hell, especially in a convertible. One model, Volvo's C70, is self-confident enough to bypass the boy-racer mentality and serve up a more urbane and less in-your-face open-top premium motoring experience.

Recently refreshed, the Swedish four-seat C70 convertible is a dash more distinctive most noticeably at the wedge-shaped front now defined by a sleeker re-styled nose and angular headlamps; its tail, too, has come in for a nip-and-a-tuck and now features high-tech LED rear lamp units.

As already mentioned, the front-wheel drive C70's take on convertible motoring is far less frenetic than, say, the likes of BMW's rear-wheel drive 3 Series convertibles. And a good thing because the best convertible motoring is more about cruising and less about bruising.

While they're pretty much commonplace these days, the C70's retractable metal hardtop is still the ideal solution to all-year-round convertible motoring. Inside the C70, comfort and style are clearly prioritised; Volvo's trademark functional Scandinavian design is present everywhere you look.

The C70s retractable
metal hardtop
is still the ideal solution
to all-year-round
convertible motoring
Fit and finish, as we have come to expect of Volvos, is not only to a high standard but gives the impression that the cabin will retain its lustre for many years to come. Most notable of the interior features is the detailing and quality of the hardtop's inner trim along with the superbly supportive and cosseting front seats, covered in a soft hide that's as pleasant to the touch as it is to sit on.

C70 drivers enjoy a good driving position thanks to the 8-way power-operated seat that also provides adjustable upper back support. Making life that little bit easier is a three-setting driver's seat memory along with effective two-stage heated seats for the driver and front passenger. The longer than normal front seat bases also provide good under-knee support, and this makes a positive contribution to journey comfort.

The multi-function (navigation, cruise control, audio and 'phone) three-spoke steering wheel wrapped in feel-good leather adjusts for height and reach and the fairly meaty rim feels nice in your hands. Visibility forward and to the side is good, so placing the C70 is undemanding. As, too, is reversing with the roof up; audible rear parking sensors are fitted for drivers with an aversion to looking over their shoulder.

The thin centre stack panel, housing the principal information display screen, audio and automatic climate control switchgear, is finished in aluminium and makes sound ergonomic sense. Functions are easily remembered and the two main dials reinforce the 'pared down' look. When summoned, the SatNav display rises up from the top of the fascia where it can be easily read without distracting from the main business of driving the car.

There are practical built-in storage areas throughout the cabin, including soft mesh pockets along the forward edges of both front seats, double-section lidded bins in the front doors, a hidden tray behind the centre stack, a large centre tunnel tray with a sliding lid and, capping a second bin, a padded armrest that doesn't cramp the swan-neck handbrake. Other thoughtful touches include a ticket holder on the driver's A-pillar for parking tickets always useful on a windy day!

Theres not that many
four-seater convertibles
on the market
and the 4.6m-long
C70 does a pretty honest
job of accommodating
four people
Our SE Lux, in keeping with its 'premium' convertible persona, came fitted with leather upholstery, power-operated driver's seat, electronic climate control, front and rear power windows, a high-performance CD/radio audio system with eight speakers and 4x40W amplifier, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, Bluetooth handsfree, cruise control, on-demand and on-locking power-folding, heated door mirrors with built-in ground lights, aluminium trim, rain-sensing wipers, rear parking sensors and 17-inch alloy wheels. Not forgetting the fully-automatic, three-piece folding metal hardtop.

There's not that many four-seater convertibles on the market and the 4.6m-long C70 does a pretty honest job of accommodating four people. Room in the back is okay for adults although taller front occupants will 'steal' legroom from those travelling behind them move the front seats fully back and rear legroom all but disappears and while it's still better than average, the C70's rear seats are ultimately better suited for children or small adults. That said, we managed a number of complaint-free journeys with two adults traveling in the back.

The two individual rear seats with comfortably angled backrests are separated by a one-piece centre console that runs from the 'floating' centre stack all the way back to the rear bulkhead. While this makes for a cosy ambience, it does mean taller rear passengers can't stretch their legs out sideways if the front seats are pushed back. The front seatbacks are hollowed out to provide extra rear passenger knee room, and there are large mesh magazine pockets. There's also an upright storage bin where a centre rear armrest might have gone.

Access to and from the rear seats is easy thanks to the simple tilt-slide-and-return front seats (powered on the driver's side; manual on the passenger's) and the V70's big doors. While convenient when getting in and out, you do need a fair bit of room when parked alongside other vehicles if you don't want to wriggle out like a snake.

Luggage space is best if you're travelling roof-up. Do so and you'll have 404 litres of boot space but drop the top and this reduces to 200 litres. Six-footers should watch their heads as the central latch protrudes from the raised boot lid. To make loading and accessing easier you can raise the folded and compacted roof sections several inches there's a button in the boot for just this very purpose. With the roof in place, owners can also make full use of the C70's ski-hatch to transport longer objects… such as skis!

Thirty heartbeats
is how long it takes for
the C70 to transform
from a handsome coupe
into an equally
handsome convertible
Also stored in the boot in its own tailored easy-carry soft case, along with a space saver spare wheel, is a wind blocker that's wonderfully simple to use. This also has a very nice touch of its own when in situ above the rear passenger compartment, both sides can be unzipped for quick access to luggage or shopping being carried on the rear seats. And the wind blocker has been designed to be left in situ while driving with the roof up, when it can double as a neat rear privacy screen as well as a security luggage blind for anything in the back.

Thirty heartbeats is how long it takes for the C70 to transform from a handsome coupe into an equally handsome convertible. Simply press the 'roof' button and the three-section steel top folds away into the boot in under thirty seconds, leaving behind only a clean rear deck.

On the move the C70 is comfortable, well-mannered and easy to drive. Our test car was fitted with the 'entry level' D3 5-cylinder, 2.0-litre turbodiesel unit. Alternatives are a more powerful D4 diesel, also a 2.0-litre but with 174bhp, and a 5-cylinder petrol, the 2.5 T5 with 226bhp. Prices range from £28,695 to £35,730.

Fitted to the C70, the 147bhp D3 is no ball of fire but it's no slouch either and will take you to 130mph where legal. More important than the power is the torque and the D3 generates a meaningful 258lb ft of it between 1,500 and 2,750rpm. In the real world, this is more than enough to guarantee hassle-free everyday driving and tranquil cruising.

As to its thirst, the D3 is more social drinker than alcoholic; sipping diesel at the rate of 61.4mpg in the official 'touring' cycle. Around town it should, again officially, return 35.8 and average 47.9mpg. Over the course of our week-long test we recorded an overall combined figure of 41.8mpg, and cracking the 45mpg mark on longer, steady-speed trips. Not that we were trying to conserve fuel! CO2 emissions are a 'green-ish' 154g/km.

Make proper use of the six-speed manual gearbox no complaints about the change action and the D3 will accelerate from standstill in a hearty 10.8 seconds and get you past slower traffic without any worries.

Every mile travelled
reinforces the C70’s
easy-going nature
As already mentioned, the C70 serves up an agreeablly laid-back convertible experience. If outright cornering ability is high on your driving agenda then look elsewhere. That's not to say that the 'softly' sprung C70 doesn't ride and handle confidently, because it does. But every mile travelled overwhelmingly reinforces the C70's easy-going nature.

Most road surfaces are glossed over and despite its open-roof configuration the C70 runs on rigid underpinnings for a flex-free ride. Bigger bumps are felt but not disturbingly and overall it covers ground with a cushioned feel. The speed-dependant steering is a tad on the light side for determined press-on driving but the brakes are powerful, reassuringly responsive and will haul down your speed with a satisfying lack of drama.

The C70's handling dynamics are safe, predictable and enjoyably user-friendly. What did you expect? It's a Volvo. For everyday driving, however, the C70 is decidedly fit for purpose which is to deliver a high level of comfort in both top-up and top-down states of dress, 24/7 and 365 days of the year. And talking of which, topless or not, the C70 looks well-groomed from all angles.

Top down at legal motorway speeds there's minimal turbulence = and travelling two-up, the easy-to-use wind deflector reduces buffeting even further. Wind and road noise are also pleasingly low. Top up, the cabin is as quiet as a fixed head coupe's.

Anyone driving a convertible with the roof down will be interested in their personal safety thankfully the C70 is about as safe as they come with an array of safety systems to cover all eventualities. For a start you get dual-stage driver and passenger airbags, side airbags and even door-mounted inflatable curtain airbags (installed in the doors as there's no roof rail).

In addition, there's Volvo's rollover protection system with roll bars that, in the event of a roll-over, extend up behind the rear seats. Other useful safety kit includes active 'bending' lights for better-lit cornering, a headlamp cleaning system, DSTC stability and traction control and ABS with Emergency Brake Assist and Electronic Brake Distribution.

The C70 is not a hard-riding, hard-charging sports machine like some of its market sector German rivals and for that very reason it will be appreciated by owners. Better yet, it offers buyers a tempting alternative to those go-faster rides. In fact, it perfectly expresses that wise old saying about the journey being more important than the time it takes to reach your destination. MotorBar

Volvo C70 D3 SE Lux
| £32,395
Maximum speed: 130mph | 0-62mph: 10.8 seconds | Overall Test MPG: 41.8mpg
Power: 147bhp | Torque: 258lb ft | CO2