2012 Volvo C70 Inscription Convertible Review

Expert Reviews Feature Articles Volvo

By David Colman

For: Starkly Handsome, Subtle, Quick
Against: Trunk Closure Difficulties, Fingertip Steering Effort

This C70 has more facets to its personality than a Hearts On Fire diamond. The Inscription package blesses it with an uprated 250hp motor that yearns to power a sportscar. The full leather interior confers Bentleyesque riches on its inhabitants. And the upgrade is endearingly subtle. Only the black leather headrests are inscribed in black thread with the phrase “Inscription.” Nowhere else does the phrase appear. Not even the tail of the C70 carries any such “Inscription” notation.

The 2.5 liter, 5 cylinder turbo engine jumps from the standard C70 output of 227hp and 236 lb.-ft. of torque to 250hp and 273 lb.-ft. of torque. That’s a hefty 10% gain in both departments. Instead of the C70’s standard 17 inch rims, Inscription brings you 18 inch “MDIR” gloss black and stainless-spoked appliances shod with ContiProContact 235/40R18 tires. “Active” dual Xenon headlights, which pivot in the direction of your turn, brilliantly illuminate the night. Volvo adds aluminum pedals, plus aluminum inserts to the sport steering wheel rim. A gloss black grill matches the finish of the alloy wheels. Chrome trimmed daytime running light pods add the only note of bling to the otherwise somber exterior. The C70 Inscription is understated to a fault, but inarguably handsome in the Swedish minimalist way.


The driving experience is all over the map. The lively special tuning of the motor propels the C70 with enough authority to keep any BMW 3 Series in sight on a twisty road. But you’ll have to work harder than the Bimmer driver because the Conti tires break loose early in a turn and insist on squealing through apexes. The C70 steering is too light to be informational. Steering feedback is so weightless, that you might think you’re driving a ’58 Buick. While the chassis itself is so stiff it can traverse railroad tracks at 60mph without a squeak or deflection, springing and shocks are so soft that the ingot-like body squirms on bump compression.

The price you pay when you engineer a folding hardtop like that of the C70 is loss of storage space when the top is down. Volvo designates a small central area of the trunk for permitted storage, but you must insure there are no impingements to this space before you drop the roof into the trunk. In addition, the trunk must be fully closed before roof activation begins. Despite the fact that we slammed the trunk home, we sometimes received “Trunk Open” warnings on the dash display. This necessitated trips to the rear to try and remedy the problem. On top of all that, there is inexplicably no cabin-mounted trunk release button.

But these trifling problems magically disappear when you’re motoring down the freeway with the top down on a sunny day. For the total Swedish cultural immersion, pop an ABBA CD into the slot and crank up the volume on the Inscription’s 160 Watt, 8 Speaker, Premium Audio System. In those hedonistic circumstances, the C70 provides a blissful escape from humdrum transportation. If you want to redline the hunko-meter/chick-magnet needle, go for a C70 drop top. Buy it because you’ll look marvelous when you drive it.

2012 Volvo C70 Inscription Convertible

  • Engine: 2.5 Liter DOHC inline 5, turbocharged
  • Horsepower: 250hp
  • Torque: 273 lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 18 City MPG/28 Highway MPG
  • Price as Tested: $51,570
  • Star Rating: 8.5 out of 10 Stars

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