Volvo C70 (2004) review

If there was an anti-ageing cream for cars, Volvo would be the leading supplier.

It is truly mystifying that the C70 convertible had its best sales year to date in 2003, but this high-spec limited edition can only add to its appeal. Stylish alloy wheels and a sumptuous interior are welcome additions, but we simply can't forgive this Volvo for its dated chassis dynamics.

If there was an anti-ageing cream for cars, Volvo would be the leading supplier. Cabrios don't usually stay in fashion for long, but the drop-top C70 has been on sale in the UK since 1999, yet had its best sales year in 2003. To sustain this momentum, a limited-edition model has been launched - and we drove it to see if any wrinkles are starting to show.

The coupe version of the C70 was discontinued this year, but the cabrio carries on. This new special is called the Collection, and while there are no mechanical or visual changes, there are plenty of additions to the list of standard equipment.

Drop the electrically operated roof and the first thing you notice is the seat trim - some buyers will be relieved to learn that the tan hide on our test car can be replaced with black leather at no extra cost. The car also also comes with deep pile carpet floor mats. Unique 17-inch alloy wheels and a choice of three special colours also leave the C70 looking quite smart, if a little long in the tooth. Unfortunately, once on the move, any illusions that this is a new model immediately vanish.

Chassis rigidity for cabriolets has come a long way in five years, and the Volvo was not even impressive back in 1999. Every road bump causes rattles through the cabin, and any attempts to corner at speed simply show up structural flaws. The only saving grace is the engine range - a choice of 2.0, 2.3 or 2.4-litre turbocharged units.

Our test car came with the powerful 200bhp 2.4, as well as the £900 Convenience options pack which includes a higher-spec CD player and auto-dimming rear view mirror. That takes the cost of this C70 Collection to £28,278, making it £1,397 cheaper than a BMW 320Ci Sport Convertible. It may be good value, but the C70 is proof beauty can be only skin deep.

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