The Swedish firm believes the D5 version of the coupe-convertible will prove irresistible to the corporate sector and play a big part in its efforts to dent the UK success of BMW and Audi.
Due in the showrooms from the end of August, D5 power will add a blend of vigorous performance, high fuel economy and low emissions to the model which has finally brought the wow factor to the marque.
Volvo UK product manager Dean Shaw said: ‘This is a premium diesel that is cost-efficient for our corporate customers. There is a lot of demand in the sector for cars that are tax-efficient and we have a product that fits the bill and is also unusually attractive into the bargain. I’m convinced we have come up with the perfect solution for those executives who need a roomy coupe for use during the working week but also want their car to help them make the best of leisure time and holidays.’
In an interview at the launch of the diesel variants in Sweden, Shaw told Fleet News that he expected D5 models to account for 40% of the 4,000 C70s likely to be sold in Britain next year.
He added: ‘In our drive to position our brand further upmarket, we see BMW and Audi as more primary targets than Saab and we rate our chances of success as good because the German cars are at an older stage in their life cycles.
‘We also think this extension of the C70 range will add to all the work we’ve already done to improve our residual values.
‘There’s no doubt that it will also make a big contribution towards more than doubling the sales we achieved with the old model.’
Shaw said sales of diesel BMW and Audi convertibles had shown strong growth since they were introduced to the UK market and added: ‘The impact of diesel has been particularly strong this year, with growth of 30% and 40% respectively for the German marques.’
Tuned to provide 180bhp and make 258lb-ft of torque available from 1,750rpm, the 2.4-litre engine is being offered initially only with Geartronic, an automatic transmission that allows manual selection, but will be available in six-speed manual form next year.
The most popular car in the diesel line-up is expected to be the Sport, which stands on 17-inch alloy wheels and has dynamic stability and traction control, steering wheel mounted audio controls, aluminium trim and cruise control.
Next up is the SE, which has 18-inch alloys, a power-adjust driving seat, high-performance audio, leather upholstery, wood trim, an autodim rear view mirror and automatic wipers. The top SE Lux adds electric folding mirrors with premium audio with surround sound, a power-adjust front passenger seat, ski bag and cargo net.
Faced with strong worldwide demand, Volvo has stepped up output of the car at its Uddevalla factory in Sweden. Under a collaborative venture with Italian coachbuilder Pininfarina, global production has been lifted from 16,000 units to 20,000.
He added: ‘The diesel version adds a new dimension to the C70, which is unique in the sector in being a full four seater and it has had an amazing reception.
‘The D5 model is a viable alternative to the turbocharged T5 petrol version in that it returns good economy without sacrificing performance.’
Shaw said: ‘Our UK allocation of 3,000 examples for 2006 is already accounted for and we can’t get enough of these cars for next year.’
Behind the wheel
With its three-piece metal roof down, the C70’s lusty five-cylinder turbodiesel engine announces its presence whenever the accelerator is pressed and doesn’t quite match its diesel convertible rivals in terms of refinement when made to run on a wide-open throttle.
But with the roof up the high-output engine assumes the demeanour that matches Volvo’s upmarket aspirations.
As subdued over major routes as most fixed-head cars, the D5 really does prove to be a best-of-both-worlds alternative, providing a cosy interior when the weather is poor or the glamour of wind-in-the-hair progress when the sun shines.
With 75mph on the speedo, its engine is spinning at a leisurely 2,200rpm, a factor that contributes to excellent fuel economy and minimum stress for its occupants. At that rate, the engine note is inaudible, making the C70 a candidate for relaxing long-distance business or pleasure motoring, especially when linked to the standard Geartronic automatic gearbox. But there’s enough aural excitement higher up the rev range to appeal to sporty drivers.
IT may not be as refined as its rivals with the roof down, but the C70 D5 is a stout performer that provides a great drive. It makes the C70 a strong candidate for drivers who like to make a statement, as well as offering the best of both worlds with the roof up or down.
Model: C70 D5
Max power (bhp/rpm): 180/4,000
Max torque (lb-ft/rpm): 258/1,750
Max speed (mph): 140
0-62mph (secs): 8.8
Fuel consumption (mpg): 38.7
CO2 emissions (g/km): 193
On sale: August
Prices (OTR): £29,400–£33,170