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2006 Volvo C70 first look

We take the 2006 Volvo C70 out for a first drive and marvel at its retractable hard top.

With a retractable hard top, a Dynaudio premium stereo system, and a bright-red paint job, I couldn't wait to take out the 2007 Volvo C70 that landed in the CNET garage this week. A cold, foggy day didn't keep me from driving with the top down, cranking up the bass and subwoofer on the stereo, and trying to shake the socks off nearby pedestrians--trying, but not succeeding, since the stereo is a little too refined for real thumps.

The Dynaudio premium stereo in the Volvo uses 12 speakers, 2 of them subwoofers, to fill a cabin with barely enough room for 4. This arrangement provides a very nice surround-sound effect with clarity throughout the ranges, with rich bass and crystal-clear highs. The six-disc in-dash changer works well enough, but it doesn't play MP3 CDs, and there is no auxiliary jack.

The retractable hard top is pretty impressive to see in motion. With the top up, the car looks like a sleek coupe, sportier than you would expect from Volvo. Pushing the convertible button puts the car into Transformer mode, with the roof breaking into parts, folding up, and packing away into the trunk, turning the car into a saber-toothed-tiger-shaped robot. No, actually it turns into a convertible, but that's fun, too.

Here's the bad part. Our C70 came equipped with an optional navigation system, concealed in a pod on the dash. The screen repeats the theme of the top by folding away when not in use. But the buttons on the center stack don't control the navigation unit. Instead, Volvo includes a not-too-handy remote control, with two buttons and a four-way rocker switch. These minimal controls are supposed to be enough to enter destinations and look around on the map. It could be much, much better.

Fortunately, this couple has lots of thoughtful touches, such as buttons on the tops of the front seats that make them slide forward, allowing access to the back. There are also interesting compartments all around the cabin, so people can stockpile nuts for the winter, or something like that.

(Photos: CNET Networks)