Beyond being the sleekest-looking Volvo ever, with a paint job called Passion Red, we were very impressed by the C70's engine. Its 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder engine shows its efficiency by producing decent power while getting good mileage.
Although there are many new cars with retractable hardtops being launched this year, it's still a remarkable technology. With the C70, pushing a button near the shifter makes the top unlatch, then lift up, slipping the forward half under the back and dropping the whole thing into the trunk. It is an impressive sight, and we also like that there's a power window button that lowers or raises all of the windows. But don't expect to pack a lot of bags in the trunk; the lowered roof takes up most of it, leaving a space below that might fit a couple of small suitcases on their sides. Volvo thoughtfully provides a button in the trunk that makes the roof apparatus lift up enough to make the small cargo space accessible.
Thin stack stereo
The C70's body looks great, but Volvo didn't neglect the interior, either. Our test car's seats were covered in nice, thick leather, and the center stack looked like it came straight from a concept car. This stack is a curved, aluminum-look thin panel anchored to the dash at the top and the shifter mount at the bottom. The middle floats free, leaving a large space behind, suitable for storing a CD case. Generally we thought it was a nice, futuristic touch, although one of our reviewers didn't see the point in it.
The eight-way power adjustable front seats provide a surprising range of motion, from vertical movement to tipping the seat bottoms up or down. Even the key for the car has an interesting techno touch; its plastic shaft still needs to be inserted into the ignition and turned, but it uses an RFID chip to let the car know it's the correct key, instead of a notched metal shaft, as in older keys. As in most coupes, the rear seats don't provide much legroom, but Volvo offers a unique touch for access. Buttons on the outbound shoulders of the front seats cause them to power forward, but those buttons will take the seats back only as far as they were originally set.
We were very excited to try out the Dynaudio stereo that was optioned on our test car, a premium system upgraded for the 2006 model year C70. This stereo has 12 speakers planted around the cabin, including two subwoofers. The speakers are powered by a four-channel 130-watt amp, a single-channel 130-watt amp for the center speaker, and dual 130-watt channels for the subwoofers. The system includes Dolby Pro Logic II surround sound, and it sounds spectacular. Audio quality is every bit as good as that of the Mark Levinson audio system in the Lexus IS 350.
Unfortunately, the stereo doesn't have any facility for MP3s, either CDs or through an auxiliary input. It does have a six-disc in-dash changer and the usual FM/AM radio and can be equipped with Sirius satellite radio. The interface for the stereo is fairly minimal but works well. Although it uses a simple monochrome LCD panel for a display, we like its radio tuning function, which simulates a needle moving along a vertical band.
The car includes a keypad below the stereo display, a very good interface element that gets completely wasted, since there is no Bluetooth cell phone integration or need for advanced navigation of an MP3 CD. Neither is the keypad used for the navigation system. We do like the simplicity and usability of the four-way rocker switch with its Enter and Back buttons, which is used to access car and audio settings.
Our test car came equipped with satellite navigation, a system with excellent route guidance but plagued by the worst screen placement we've seen. Initially, we thought the only way to control the navigation was with the included remote control, because none of the buttons on the center stack had anything to do with it. A few days into our review, however, we discovered a four-way rocker switch with two buttons attached to the back of the right spoke of the steering wheel.