Currently reading: Used car buying guide: Volvo C70
Volvo’s C70 is an eye-catching and useful year-round motor with a hard roof that folds neatly away and four usable seats – all from just £1500
John Evans
News
5 mins read
24 May 2021

Today’s Volvos are a good-looking bunch but previous generations have had their Greta Garbos and Ingrid Bergmans, too. Models such as the C70 of 2006-13. Well, less Greta perhaps and more Benny or Björn… Anyway, the fact remains that the C70 is a handsome car with a clever folding roof that, up or down, is well integrated. It replaced the original C70, launched in 1996. That car came in coupé and convertible guises, whereas its successor is both, plus a full four-seater, too. (It’s based on a stretched version of the Ford Focus platform.)

The roof is a three-piece affair designed by Pininfarina. When raised, it stiffens the car’s body considerably. It’s activated by a press of a button on the centre console and should take around 30 seconds to do its thing. It looks cool but a downside is that the boot shrinks from 404 to 200 litres when the roof is folded.

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There are two petrol and four diesel engines in the range. The most exciting is the 2.5-litre five-cylinder 20-valve turbocharged petrol engine in the T5. It’s the same as the one in the Ford Focus ST, albeit detuned to 227bhp. Peak torque of 236lb ft spans 1500rpm to 5000rpm, so it’s flexible, too. Don’t expect fireworks, though. The C70’s 1700kg kerb weight sees to that. The other petrol is a 168bhp non-turbocharged 2.4 five-cylinder. It’s much more plentiful than the T5 and is a sedate and more refined alternative to the many diesels out there. Sadly, it was dropped in 2009.

From launch, two oil-burners were offered: a 134bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder and a 177bhp 2.4-litre five-cylinder, badged D5. In 2009, the underpowered and unrefined 2.0-litre diesel was replaced by two turbocharged engines of the same capacity but with five cylinders. They are the 148bhp D3 and 174bhp D4. With 295lb ft of torque, the D4 is as muscly as the D5.

The diesels are powerful and economical and outnumber the petrols by around three to one but they’re old technology, can suffer DPF problems and aren’t as nice to listen to as the petrols when the roof is down. Most engines are available with a choice of smooth six-speed manual or sluggish five-speed Geartronic automatic gearboxes. The 2.0-litre diesel engine had Ford’s more impressive six-speed Powershift dual-clutch gearbox.

The C70’s interior looks classy but pared down but is actually very well equipped, with climate and cruise control, power windows and high-end stereo all standard. The 16in and 17in alloy wheels result in a more comfortable ride than the sportier 18s on top-spec versions and owners have been known to replace their larger alloys with them. Sport trim has electronic stability control, while SE has power seats and SE Lux leather ones. From 2012, LED headlights became standard. Regarding options to look out for, the best is the wind deflector for the rear cabin. Your passengers will thank you as you waft along the Torbay Riviera.

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Car review

The Volvo C70 is a sleek, high-class coupe cabriolet with average handling

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How to get one in your garage

An expert's view

Greg Carpenter, Carpenters Autocare: “The Ford C70 I call it. I mean it’s closely related to the Ford Focus CC. The Volvo looks much better, though, and it’s certainly classier. I’d buy a petrol and not one of the diesels. You don’t want to hear a diesel engine chugging away when you’ve got the roof down. The T5 is a very strong engine but you must keep your eye on the belt change intervals. All folding roofs can be a pain from time to time but the C70’s is particularly problematic and can take hours and lots of money to diagnose and fix.”

Buyer beware…

■ Engine: On T5 engines, check for oil-filler mayonnaise or white smoke, both suggesting split cylinder liners. Check the condition of the ancillary belts and listen for them squeaking, because if one of them fails, it can take out the timing belt and wreck the T5 engine. Diesel engines can suffer fuel pump and injector problems, resulting in poor performance and high fuel consumption. Again on diesels, a high oil level may indicate regen problems with the DPF. On all engines, check fluid levels, service history and, where required, evidence of belt and water pump changes.

■ Suspension, brakes and wheels: The C70 is a heavy car that punishes the suspension so check that no springs are broken and listen out for rattly drop-links. Expect the dampers to give up at around 90,000 miles. Under braking, if the discs aren’t warped, a distinct wobble through the car is likely to be worn rear bushes in the front wishbones.

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■ Body: Examine the boot for signs of water ingress caused by perished roof seals or those around the rear light clusters. Ensure door locks are well lubricated.

■ Hood: On the test drive, be sure you can tolerate the rattles and squeaks from the roof. Operate it several times, ensuring it works smoothly. Check the rams for oil leaks and that the seals aren’t perished.

■ Interior: Make sure the air-con blows cold because the condensers can be troublesome. Check the windows work.

Also worth knowing

The Volvo Owners’ Club (visit volvoclub.org.uk) is a good source of advice and discounted insurance and servicing. You have to join to enjoy the full experience but browsing the public forums can yield useful information.

How much to spend

£1500-£2499: Choice of early diesels and some 2.4 petrols with high mileages, including a one-owner 2008 D5 auto with 150k miles and full service history for £2395.

£2500-£4999: Mainly 2008-09 diesels with around 80,000 miles.

£5000-£7499: Expect 2010-12 diesels with reasonable mileages and in good condition.

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£7500-£10,999: More 2011-2013 D3 and D4 cars here with mileages around 50,000.

£11,000-£13,000: The very best, late, low-mileage cars.

One we found

Volvo C70 T5 SE, 2008-reg, 114K miles, £4495: A two-owner manual car with some Polestar performance tweaks and a full Volvo service history. Its private seller claims it’s fault-free. As an alternative, there’s a 2007-reg T5 auto with 87,000 miles for £3200 but it has five former owners and a faulty roof.

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si73 25 May 2021
@scotty I always thought the original C70 coupe looked fantastic, the convertible less so with the roof up but still better than this folding hard top.
scotty5 24 May 2021

Thought the original C70 looked quite classy but this? Nah, looks too long and narrow. In fact to these eyes, the design looks more like a boat with the hood down.

Bimfan 24 May 2021

One of the few convertibles that looks better with the roof up. You must be over 70 to consider one of these as an image improver.

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