Volvo C70 D5 SE
Our Volvo C70 is great to drive, but we're having to go to extreme lengths to drown a tapping noise
Luxury. Style. Safety. Any of these would be perfectly appropriate. But if I was playing a word association game and someone said Volvo C70, I'd probably reply 'rattle'.
It's weird how something as innocuous as a slight tapping sound can detract from the wonderful experience of taking delivery of a brand new car - especially one as lovely as this. But that's what happened to me.
I'm not alone, either - Auto Express receives scores of letters from readers complaining about how much one small noise can affect their enjoyment of their showroom-fresh vehicle.
During every journey in the Volvo, I'd be actively listening out for the metallic ping emanating from somewhere deep within the roof. Sometimes, I purposefully drove without the stereo on to check if it was still there. It always was. Once, I even got someone to take the car round the block while I sat in the back with my ear fixed to the rooflining. Sad, I know.
But no matter how hard I tried, I could never locate the exact source of the infuriating, yet admittedly rather quiet, rattle. I was becoming so obsessed that whenever a colleague borrowed the Volvo, the first thing I would ask when they returned the keys was whether they noticed the noise. I was clearly suffering from some form of rattle-induced Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
I was all for visiting my local dealer to have the complicated roof stripped to root out the cause, but decided that such invasive action could do more harm than good. In the end, I decided it would be easier to fix myself rather than the car.
Using a self-help psychology technique, I made a list of all the things I liked about the C70 and focused my attention on these when out on the road. This was quite easy as the car has many appealing attributes. For starters it's a great piece of design. Tiny rattle aside, the three-piece folding roof is an engineering work of art. Also, the sumptuous cabin could put a Habitat showroom to shame, while the exterior, with its distinctive crease lines, oozes class.
But while the Volvo looks sporty, in reality it's more of a comfortable cruiser than a true driver's machine in the way a BMW is. This is a good thing, depending on your viewpoint.
Most of the driving I do isn't much fun. I'm either battling horrendous city congestion or nipping up the motorway to visit family in the Midlands. Yet for real-life everyday motoring, I can assure you that I wouldn't swap the C70 for anything more 'involving'.
The compliant suspension takes the strain out of the 49 speed humps I face on my nine-mile daily commute to and from work, while the smooth-shifting automatic gearbox, which comes as standard, eases the pain of crawling along in the jams.
In fact, the Volvo has changed the way I drive. Rather than darting in and out of the traffic like a crazed bluebottle, I now waft about on a tranquil wave of diesel torque provided by the punchy 2.4-litre D5 engine. I arrive at my destination in just the same time, only a whole lot less stressed.
Considering the C70 is mainly used in town, the fuel bills don't raise the blood pressure, either. Carrying loads is also no problem as the Volvo has a big boot for a convertible. It easily swallowed a set of weights I needed to move recently, even with the roof down.
Sadly, I haven't had that much topless action in the C70 yet - we took delivery of it late last year, so the weather hasn't really suited. All that will change when spring arrives. So really, my only gripe with the Volvo, apart from the rattle, is its poor rear visibility. The bootlid is high and the rear screen small, which means the optional parking sensors we had fitted are a necessity.
However, these vital devices have already let me down once. They failed to detect a metal bollard when I was manoeuvring in a car park - although to be fair, the post was thin and I'd unwittingly lined up so it exactly bisected the two central detector units. Doh!
Considering the force of the impact, there was relatively little damage done. Still, every time I now look at OV56 LFM's beautiful rear end all I see is an annoying crease in the bumper. At least it's taken my mind off the rattle.