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Volvo C70 T5 SE LUX Car Review | February 8, 2006

Driven February 2006

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So what happens when the Focus CC arrives next year? Dynamically, the Ford might be better than the Volvo, and no doubt it'll sell cheaper spec-for-spec. The Volvo will then have to stand or fall on its being a (dread phrase) 'premium brand'.

If premium means having a nicer interior or more attentive dealers, or design less compromised by the need to appeal to the mass market, then that's a good argument.

But does the C70 manage to put that amount of clear air between itself and the rest - not just the Focus CC but the equivalent Astra, 307, Megane and the VW Eos? And is it enough nicer to justify the money?

If it isn't, then premium simply means a brand that you buy into because you refuse to share it with thousands of drivers of commodity hatchbacks. An ignoble motivation for purchase, really.

With the test car's leather, electric seats and wake-the-dead stereo, you're at £33,000 plus, but the T5 opens the bidding at under £30k. Audi's 2.0T hovers in the same area, but it has less kit.

So Volvo would argue you're getting an extra cylinder, more poke and the hardtop all for nowt. But that's still half as much again as a turbo Megane CC.

But the C70 is endearing. And even the basic conceptual fault - that though they say it's a four-seat convertible it can't actually carry four and their baggage with the roof down - probably doesn't matter a bit. Cars like this never carry four for a year-round habit.

Now imagine rounding up three passengers you very much like, jumping in a C70 and leaving the top up while you drive south on your holidays. It's quite civilised, roomy and glassy that way.

Then, once you've arrived at your hotel and unpacked, wouldn't it be just peachy to drop the roof and mosey gently off down the beach?

Paul Horrell

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