The C70 perhaps makes most sense with the D5 diesel, which admirably suits its cruising prowess - except when you need to nip into a gap in traffic.

What's new?

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. 

Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.

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