Volvo's New C70

The Feminine Perspective


I am in Santa Barbara, watching an amazing presentation of Volvo's newest and hottest thing, the C70 Coupe. Very evolutionary, but still very Volvo, a car for the "Affluent Progressives" according to Volvo president Helge Alten. This group is largely post-family, attuned to understated elegance and luxury, but less conspicuous consumption than the yuppies of the 80's. In recent years, Volvo's demographics have moved up to the $140,000 annual household income range, and a good thing too, because this very refined piece of Swedish steel has pushed itself into the price point formerly reserved for BMW & Mercedes.

This new demographic target is far removed from the "family" segment that Volvo has always catered to. Is the C70 the right car to hit it? I think so. It fits right into the "Less is more" crowd and I can easily picture someone in a lovely Armani suit driving the C70. The lines are simple, the materials, first rate. The styling is understated and the shape clean. For my taste the squared front end is a mismatch for the very coupey rear and the overall look too conservative; but this will probably appeal to the individual trading up from a Volvo sedan, who will find the styling positively daring. To add some sizzle to the package, they are offering the C70 in some very pop colors, including a vivid saffron gold and a luscious black currant, compensating for the restrained lines with uninhibited color. I find these a bit too trendy, but the C70 is positively stunning in black or my favorite, a transparent steel blue.

Later that afternoon, I am winding into the Angeles forest behind the wheel of a C70 and really enjoying the sensations. This car drives like a champ and I find myself more aggressive on the road with an easy confidence because it is so fast, safe and smooth. Quite a change from the Volvo wagon I owned in the late 70's. I liked that car because it felt so safe, but the C70 shows me that safety can also feel very exciting.

For a sports coupe, the C70 boasts sedan size room inside. It could easily seat 4 Texas cattle ranchers on the way back from lunch. The interior scheme is very flashy and plush, accented with leather and impressive genuine wood trim in Scandinavian tones. I find that the folks at Volvo don't know what makes a good cup holder, but they do know a lot about stereos. Crystal clear Dolby surround sound with real European quality reminded me of a B&O system and felt very hip.

Volvo hopes the C70 will be the car you want, not the car you need. I can easily see stylish people, concerned with safety, interested in status, and longing to be different choosing the C70 instead of the predictable BMW. No way you'd call this a 4 wheeled Birkenstock.