The weather is finally starting to warm here at our MotorWeek studios, and that means convertible season is right around the corner. And one of this year’s most intriguing new convertibles comes from Volvo, the 2006 C70. It’s hardtop, open-air fun with a decidedly Swedish accent.

Volvo may be a Swedish brand with a Swedish accent, but the origins of the new 2006 C70 are partially rooted in a much warmer region. To make the new C70 the most gorgeous drop-top to ever leave a Swedish car factory, Volvo enlisted the help of Ferrari’s favorite coachbuilder, Italy’s Pininfarina, and their considerable convertible top expertise.

Italian open-air expertise blended well with the Swedish paragon for safety, producing a heavily reinforced version of the chassis used in the S40 sedan and V50 wagon. But surprise, some of the extra strength in the C70 chassis is added by the folding top.
It’s a complex 3-piece all-steel design that uses a combination of electric and hydraulic power to smoothly drop it into the trunk in less than 30 seconds. But don’t plan on using much of the trunk space for cargo with the top folded, as it holds only a hard-to-reach 6.0 cubic-feet.

Having a solid top adds greatly to chassis rigidity, as we found out during our first drive on the beautiful Hawaiian island of Maui. Top up, the C70 is as quiet as a normal hardtop Volvo. Top down it’s solid, with just a touch of body shake over rough pavement, and with a less jittery ride than your average ragtop.

The C70’s road power was adapted from the top level S40/V50, Volvo’s T5 engine. This 2.5-liter dual-cam inline 5-cylinder sports a light-pressure turbocharger to boost output to 218 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque.  Our car’s front-wheel-drive 5-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode fit the bill expertly as well. A 6-speed manual is also available.

On Maui’s twisty roads, the combination of T5 engine and automatic delivered ample power despite rather noticeable turbo lag. Keep the revs up, and you can easily power through even slow corners. But let them drop off on corner entry, and you have to wait for boost pressure to build, despite quick downshifts from the auto gearbox. This was less of an issue with the manual, which allowed us to more easily keep the engine on the boil, and concentrate on exploiting the car’s solid front-wheel-drive handling.

The C70’s new sheet metal is a real looker. While the front clearly shows S40/V50 kinship, all styling aft of the windshield is new and came not from Pininfarina but Volvo’s own Peter Horbury. Modern, refined, and aerodynamic, while still retaining distinctive Volvo family roots. It’s a much sharper, more concise shape than the previous C70, yet still exudes that solid safety image that Volvo buyers prize.

To maintain that image, Volvo has equipped the C70 with innovative upward deploying door-mounted side curtain airbags plus seat-mounted side impact airbags and a rollover protection system that deploys steel bars from behind the rear passenger seats with the roof up or down. 

The 4-seat interior is not only safe, it’s also quite stylish, with a very well organized dash. The front bucket seats have orthopedic-level support, and boast standard 8-way power adjustments for both driver and passenger. Leather and heat are optional.  Dual-zone climate controls are, however, standard, as is a 6-disc CD audio system. Now, if you crave hearing loss, an optional 910-watt 14-speaker system is available, as is a DVD-based navigation package, with a remote control and satellite radio.

The rear seat is quite roomy for a convertible, with enough room for a pair of adults to survive short to moderate distances. And a cargo pass through is included for long loads like skis.

C70 T5 prices start at $39,405, or in the same ballpark as the Saab 9-3 and BMW 3-Series convertibles. Go wild with options, however, and you can find yourself looking at a price tag that nears 50 grand.

The 2006 Volvo C70 is by far the most impressive convertible that Volvo has ever made. It’s the safest, best engineered, and easily the most attractive, and promises fans of both Volvos and convertibles a summer filled with tip-top, drop-top driving with an alluring Swedish accent.



  • Engine: 2.5-Liter Dual-cam Inline 5-Cylinder
  • Horsepower: 218
  • Torque: 236 Lb Feet