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CAR OF THE MONTH February 2006

2006 Volvo C70 T5 Review

Two Cars in One

By Alain Gayot

A three-quarter front view of a red 2006 Volvo C70 T5

In short: An innovative, safe and romantic coupe convertible.

Quite a few folks have stayed away from convertibles because they considered them unsafe. Volvo, long known for safe cars, proves that theory wrong with an intelligent and attractive solution. The Volvo C70 is 15 percent stiffer than its predecessor, and has a 30-second cycle retractable hardtop. In effect, you get two cars in one: A sporty coupe and a sexy convertible.

Additionally, you get advanced side impact and rollover protection as well as door-mounted inflatable curtains with pretensioners in all seats. Running all the way down the body sills, the side A-pillars are hydro-formed in extra high strength steel. The Rollover Protection System (ROPS) is activated with the aid of a pyrotechnic charge and comes up behind the rear passenger seats. Meanwhile, the front structure provides controlled deformation, while the rear is designed for shock absorption. As if this was not enough, Volvo’s leading Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS) is there to avoid neck injuries. The car also has an additional array of preventive safety mechanisms, including a rigid body, broad track and long wheel base chassis, DSTC, ABS and EBA.

Good distribution of interior space makes it a true four passenger car. The Scandinavian-influenced interior design has a Bang & Olufsen-like center console, and everything is functional and intuitive. Trunk space has been increased by a marvel of engineering, but we’ll let the dealer demonstrate that one.

A climate package delivers rain-sensing wipers, heated front seats and headlamp washers for $675, a good value.

Sound systems come in a standard 8-speaker configuration, or for $1,550 more you can boost it to a 12-Dynaudio speaker system with 910 watts, two killer subwoofers and Dolby ProLogic II Surround Sound—enough auto-adjusting decibels to counter wind friction.

We were lucky enough to test this charmer on the notorious Hana Highway in Maui, with 600 turns in 35 miles. This turned out to be outstanding proving ground for a convertible, with pockets of rain frequently interspersed with sunshine. Despite driving the front-wheel drive automobile aggressively on often muddy and gravelly surfaces, we always stayed on course with no sliding. Some might think 218 horsepower is meager in this day and age of über engines, but we never felt short-changed on the winding road or while ascending the 10,000-feet high Haleakala volcano. With the standard manual stick you’ll have a sportier ride with less lags. The 5-speed automatic transmission is a $1,250 option.

One way or another, this new and exciting model is sure to set a few dates in showrooms.

Learn more about Volvo Overseas Delivery

A three-quarter rear view of a red 2006 Volvo C70 T5

Warranty/Service: Four-year/50,000-mile basic warranty; four-year Volvo On Call Roadside Assistance.

Base Price: $38,710 /As tested: $40,400

Technical Specifications

Vehicle type: front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 2-door hardtop convertible

Engine: 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-5
Horsepower: 218 bhp @ 5000 rpm
Torque: 236 lb-ft @ 1500 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual

Curb weight: 3,772 lbs
Wheelbase: 103.9 in
180.4/71.7/55.1 in
Turning circle: 41.7 feet

Brakes: four-wheel disc with ABS and electronic brake assist

Suspension: independent front and rear
traction control and vehicle stability control

Safety: front air bags, front side air bags, side curtain air bags

0-60 mph: 7.6 seconds
Top Speed: 150 mph

EPA City: 21 mpg
EPA Highway: 29 mpg

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Photography: AlphaMedia

(Updated: 02/09/12 NW)