This is our first UK taste of Volvo's handsome folding hardtop C70 with the D5 diesel engine. The C70 sits in a slightly lonely position in the class, as its main rivals don't have hardtop roofs to offer. All those rivals have long since installed diesels into their cars, however, making Volvo a little on the late side. The 187bhp five-cylinder oil-burner has 258lb ft of torque, which sounds a lot until the C70's 1684kg weight is brought into the equation. What's it like?
Weighty, which isn't quite the bad news it might seem. Every movement the C70 makes reveals its weight: when accelerating, braking or cornering you can feel the masses shifting around.
That's not necessarily an unpleasant feeling, for the weight contributes to the assurance of the ride and secure feel of the handling in this calming Swedish cruiser, which is certainly no sports car.
Where the C70 D5 falls behind is when it falls behind – i.e. whenever sharp acceleration is called for. Then, the engine's usual lack of initial step-off performance necessitates an early and hearty stab at the throttle if you're going to get into that gap.
There's often doubt lingering in your mind as to how safely you'll make it, and that's a bit too much to accept in a £33,170 car. It's also a shame, because in many other areas the C70 is quite a charmer and when you're not calling on the D5 to zip you into a gap in traffic, the engine really suits the car, with enough performance once woken up (0-60mph taking 8.8sec), a distinctive five-beat sound and fuel economy that's 9mpg better in or out of town than the T5 petrol.
And the seats are marvellous, the cabin's lighting seductive and the slim dash looks as good as ever. There's also an unimpeachable feeling of quality to the whole car that's deeply attractive. The gearbox slurs its changes well and is rarely caught in the wrong ratio; the sound system is excellent and the ride absorbent.
The shake visible through the A-pillars over surface scars isn't so encouraging, but it's not bad enough to ruin the experience. Should I buy one?
There's just one snag: price. The C70's list price could see you sliding behind the wheel of a lot of other desirable cars. The VW Eos 2.0-litre TDi does not feel as special and takes an extra 1.6sec to 60mph, but it has more urge from a standstill and costs a rather substantial £11,000 less. The Volvo is a premium car in a way the VW will never be, but that's a lot of premium.