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The Daily Drivers | By Peter Couture and Lyra Solochek, Times staff writers

The Daily Drivers: Volvo C70 convertible a solid combination of style and sensibility

Peter was driving to work in the Volvo C70 when another one of the convertibles passed him. Maybe the driver, a nicely dressed 30-something guy — real estate? sales? — hoped it wouldn't rain so he could impress a client later. That's who we think the C70 probably appeals to, someone who wants style and sportiness — just not too much.

Appearance: When this car came out a few years ago, it helped signal the end of Volvo's square past. The streamlined C70 is curvaceous, but not overly so, with elongated headlights and an attractive drop-down grille.

Performance: Oh, those dare-to-be-different Swedes — the 2.5-liter, 227-horsepower turbo has five cylinders. That's enough to give the 3,837-pound car peppy acceleration, but not any real ooomph. (Maybe one more cylinder?) The automatic transmission has a manual mode, but as with lots of the cars we've driven, it doesn't seem to be all that necessary. Lyra felt the brakes were mushy; Peter thought they were fine. Overall this front-wheel-driver has a solid feel — Peter drove it in an intense downpour and felt confident in it. Still, the C70 handles more like a commuter car than a sporty one.

Interior: We liked it — very Bang & Olufsen — with a brushed-aluminum "waterfall" console that stands out from the dash and has a small storage nook behind it. Most of the materials are nice, with only a few plasticky ones. The white-on-black gauges are clear and easy to read, but the digital info center is small and can be hard to see. Lyra found some of the buttons and touch-screen controls cumbersome. Here's the feature she really didn't like: The compact nav screen rises from the dash and is operated by a handheld remote control. For a short driver, she found it partly obscured her view. Peter found the TV-style remote kind of fun — a guy thing? — as did his kids. You can operate it by feel without having to take your eye off the road, but what if you lose it? The leather steering wheel is nicely padded and its aluminum inlay is a tactile treat. We both found the cranberry leather seats a welcome color change. The push-button top opens in 30 seconds. Of all the convertibles we've driven, the Volvo definitely has the most trunk space with the top down. Hey, you could even put a suitcase in back.

Our 3 favorites

Peter Couture

Interior style: As a fan of minimalism, I appreciate the Scandanavian influence.

Retractable hardtop: Many pieces, smooth operation.

Just enough: Tight fit, but the back seat and trunk are useful.

Lyra Solochek

Well-protected: There are rollover "hoops" for rear passengers and door-mounted inflatable curtain airbags.

Seats: Comfortable and striking in cranberry.

Storage: Covered nooks keep items secure.

The bottom line: The C70 won't wow you in any one area, but it adds up nicely. For sun worshippers who want a convertible coupe with room in the rear, lots of safety features and sensible performance, it merits a close look.

2011

Volvo C70

convertible

Price: $39,950, $45,850 as tested

Powertrain: 2.5-liter five-cylinder turbo, five-speed automatic with geartronic, FWD.

Horsepower:

227 at 5,000 rpm

Torque: 236 pound-feet at 1,500-5,000 rpm

Curb weight: 3,837 pounds

Dimensions

in inches:

Wheelbase, 103.9

Length, 180.4

Width, 72.3

Fuel economy:

19 miles per gallon city, 28 mpg highway

Safety features: Front and side airbags, door-mounted side curtains, whiplash protection system, roll-over protection system, with rear pop-up roll bars and reinforced A-pillars, dynamic stability traction control, ABS.

Options worth considering: Navigation system with real-time traffic, climate package with heated front seats, humidity/rain sensor, interior air-quality system, premium sound system.

Web site: www.volvocars.com/us/all-cars/volvo-c70/Pages/default.aspx

The Daily Drivers: Volvo C70 convertible a solid combination of style and sensibility 04/02/10 [Last modified: Friday, April 2, 2010 4:30am]
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