Used car buying guide: Volvo C70

Today’s Volvos are a good-looking bunch but previous generations have had their Greta Garbos and Ingrid Bergmans, too. Models such as the C70 of 2006-13. Well, less Greta perhaps and more Benny or Björn… Anyway, the fact remains that the C70 is a handsome car with a clever folding roof that, up or down, is well integrated. It replaced the original C70, launched in 1996. That car came in coupé and convertible guises, whereas its successor is both, plus a full four-seater, too. (It’s based on a stretched version of the Ford Focus platform.)

The roof is a three-piece affair designed by Pininfarina. When raised, it stiffens the car’s body considerably. It’s activated by a press of a button on the centre console and should take around 30 seconds to do its thing. It looks cool but a downside is that the boot shrinks from 404 to 200 litres when the roof is folded.

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There are two petrol and four diesel engines in the range. The most exciting is the 2.5-litre five-cylinder 20-valve turbocharged petrol engine in the T5. It’s the same as the one in the Ford Focus ST, albeit detuned to 227bhp. Peak torque of 236lb ft spans 1500rpm to 5000rpm, so it’s flexible, too. Don’t expect fireworks, though. The C70’s 1700kg kerb weight sees to that. The other petrol is a 168bhp non-turbocharged 2.4 five-cylinder. It’s much more plentiful than the T5 and is a sedate and more refined alternative to the many diesels out there. Sadly, it was dropped in 2009.

From launch, two oil-burners were offered: a 134bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder and a 177bhp 2.4-litre five-cylinder, badged D5. In 2009, the underpowered and unrefined 2.0-litre diesel was replaced by two turbocharged engines of the same capacity but with five cylinders. They are the 148bhp D3 and 174bhp D4. With 295lb ft of torque, the D4 is as muscly as the D5.

The diesels are powerful and economical and outnumber the petrols by around three to one but they’re old technology, can suffer DPF problems and aren’t as nice to listen to as the petrols when the roof is down. Most engines are available with a choice of smooth six-speed manual or sluggish five-speed Geartronic automatic gearboxes. The 2.0-litre diesel engine had Ford’s more impressive six-speed Powershift dual-clutch gearbox.

The C70’s interior looks classy but pared down but is actually very well equipped, with climate and cruise control, power windows and high-end stereo all standard. The 16in and 17in alloy wheels result in a more comfortable ride than the sportier 18s on top-spec versions and owners have been known to replace their larger alloys with them. Sport trim has electronic stability control, while SE has power seats and SE Lux leather ones. From 2012, LED headlights became standard. Regarding options to look out for, the best is the wind deflector for the rear cabin. Your passengers will thank you as you waft along the Torbay Riviera.

How to get one in your garage

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£11,000-£13,000: The very best, late, low-mileage cars.

One we found

Volvo C70 T5 SE, 2008-reg, 114K miles, £4495: A two-owner manual car with some Polestar performance tweaks and a full Volvo service history. Its private seller claims it’s fault-free. As an alternative, there’s a 2007-reg T5 auto with 87,000 miles for £3200 but it has five former owners and a faulty roof.