Volvo C70 is a year-round convertible

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Summer is the usual time for convertibles, but the stylish, capable Volvo C70 is a car for all seasons.

The 2012 Volvo C70 has a folding hard top that lets in summer sun but keeps out bad elements.  VOLVO/ASSOCIATED PRESS
VOLVO/ASSOCIATED PRESS
The 2012 Volvo C70 has a folding hard top that lets in summer sun but keeps out bad elements.

With a three-piece steel hard top, the 2012 C70 looks good, rides well and offers a secure, pleasant driving environment year-round. In fact, when the roof was up and in place on the test car, passers-by didn’t realize this Volvo was a convertible at all.

Best of all, the Swedish-built C70 is a recommended buy of Consumer Reports, with reliability listed as above average.

It has numerous safety features, too. Though federal government crash tests have not included the C70, the 2012 car has three types of air bags for front-seat passengers – frontal, side-seat and head curtain air bags. Dynamic stability traction control, automatic height-adjusting front shoulder belts, anti-whiplash front head restraints and a rollover protection system also are standard, while a blind spot monitor system and rear park assist are options.

The 2012 C70 has a lower starting retail price than other luxury convertibles. Specifically, manufacturer’s suggested retail price, including destination charge, is $41,325 for a base, two-door C70 with 227-horsepower, turbocharged, five-cylinder engine and Geartronic automatic transmission with Auto Stick, shift-it-yourself function. The shifting does not require use of a clutch pedal.

The C70 for 2012 includes a new Inscription package that adds a higher-powered, turbocharged, five-cylinder engine producing 250 horsepower and more torque than the standard C70 engine. This powerplant was in the C70 test car, and boosted the base price, before other options, to $45,225.

Instead of a lightweight fabric roof, the top is smooth metal and exceptional at keeping outside sounds from the interior. Instead of folding down when not in use, the metal roof stacks its three pieces, one atop the other, into part of the trunk.

Though Volvo has had a complicated path of late – it was originally a Sweden-based company, then was bought by Ford Motor Co. and then jettisoned in 2010 to the Chinese firm Geely Holding Group – the tester felt very much like a Volvo of the past decade.

It had Volvo’s usual strong turbo power, safety equipment and inscrutable radio controls on the center stack of the dashboard. The leather front bucket seats were the comfortable, fatigue-free resting spots for which Volvo is known. These attractive seats and the minimalist-appearing interior design help set the interior apart from competitors.

Just 3 inches longer than a Honda Civic sedan, the two-door C70 is a maneuverable 15 feet long. Steering is light, and the suspension is midway between firm and soft. There’s enough softness so passengers notice weight transfer on mountain curves, but riding on broken pavement is not a harsh experience.

Front-seat riders have good legroom of 42.3 inches, and front-seat headroom is a commendable 38.2 inches with the roof on.

The two back seats are a bit tight but still usable.

The navigation screen that rose from a slot atop the dashboard was controlled by a handheld remote control. The test car’s remote allowed the driver to input destination addresses and other info while driving. It was a dangerous distraction.

The trunk has 12.8 cubic feet of space when the roof is up and 6 cubic feet when it is down.

Engines have traditional turbo lag during acceleration, especially in quick, demanding circumstances. At times, the tester’s uplevel 2.5-liter, double overhead cam, 250-horsepower five-cylinder created torque steer, which is an unnerving pulling of the wheels to one side or the other at startup from a stop. Hang on to the steering wheel.

Torque in this uplevel Inscription engine peaks at 273 foot-pounds starting at a very low 1,500 rpm. This is 37 more pound feet than the torque in the base engine.

City/highway combined mileage was just barely 19 miles per gallon compared with the government’s estimate of 21 mpg.

SPECS

THE VEHICLE: 2012 Volvo C70, a front-engine, front-wheel-drive, four-passenger, subcompact hardtop convertible

BASE PRICE: $40,450
for base T5; $44,350
for Inscription model tested

DESTINATION FEE: $875

PRICE AS TESTED: $51,570

ENGINE: 2.5-liter, dual-overhead-cam, turbocharged, intercooled five-cylinder

EPA MILEAGE: 18 mpg city, 28 mpg highway

TRANSMISSION: Five-speed automatic

LENGTH: 180.4 inches

WHEELBASE: 103.9 inches

CURB WEIGHT: 3,837 pounds

BUILT IN: Sweden

OPTIONS INCLUDE: Platinum package (premium sound, navigation, key-free ignition, rear park assist, Homelink garage/gate opener) $3,600


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