2012 Volvo C70 Inscription review: Special…with power

2012 Volvo C70 Insignia

2012 Volvo C70 Insignia

We’re accustomed to “special” models being trim packages, and while we have no objection to a leather covered dash with contrasting stitching, a sports steering wheel with aluminum inserts, or wheels with a gloss black finish, added horsepower is something that’s rarely available. It is with the 2012 Volvo C70 Inscription, however.

The 2012 C70 Inscription is one of four Volvo models to get modded by Volvo’s speedy partner, PoleStar, and for the C70, the 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder gets added turbo boost and a spark advance to increase power output by 23 horsepower and 37 lb-ft of torque, bringing the bottom line numbers to 250 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque.

2012 Volvo C70 Insignia interior

The 2012 Volvo C70 Insignia has a leather-covered dash with contrasting stitching. (Click to enlarge).

That’s zoomy but hardly breathtaking these days, with four-cylinder mid-size family sedans making even more horsepower. Think of the 2012 Volvo C70 Inscription as the corporate jet of the sports car world. It’s not an air superiority fighter, such as a Corvette or Viper might be, but rather a sleek and comfy way to get from here to there in a stylish but sporty way.

The Volvo C70 is a convertible, and we’ve visited it before. Around in its current generation since 2006, the C70 received a major makeover for 2011. Although the first generation of C70 was available as either a coupe or cloth-top convertible, the second generation combined the two with a retractable hardtop. Although not the first of the genre (nor the last, see the Chrysler 200 Convertible), the retractable hardtop of the C70 leaves some trunkroom with the top lowered, thanks to the roof separating into three pieces and spooning as the top withdraws into the rear of the car.

The advantage of a retractable hardtop compared to the traditional fabric top is, of course, added security when parked and a quieter cabin when driving on the highway. The Volvo C70 doesn’t give up anything in looks in exchange for those benefits. In fact, don’t tell Volvo, but if the C70 were available only as a coupe, it would be just as attractive, particularly with the top up and side windows down.

With just the windows down or the top lowered, the convertible aerodynamics are good, with minimal buffeting. Volvo has an optional windblocker that can be installed to reduce the wind that curls back to hit front seat passengers from behind, but even at highway speeds, that’s not a great problem with the C70.

2012 Volvo C70 Insignia engine

PoleStar tweaked the 2.5-liter five-cylinder for 23 more horsepower. (Click to enlarge).

The Volvo C70 is ostensibly a four-seater though we had prospective rear seat passengers decline the honor. Leg room is limited, especially if the front seat occupants don’t cooperate.

Like other Volvos, the C70’s interior is pure Scandinavian design, with a clean minimalist theme, particularly its centerstack, which looks like a thin curved plank between the dash and center console, now a hallmark of Volvo interior design.

Not much is lost to the C70’s navigation system that’s part of the Platinum trim level. The nav screen hinges up from the dashtop—up where it’s easy to see while driving—and the control buttons are located on the backside of the right-side spoke on the steering wheel. It’s confusing at first, but the system works well without stealing any real estate on the car’s dash.

That’s all just typical 2012 Volvo C70 stuff, however, and this is supposed to be an evaluation of the 2012 Volvo C70 Inscription. Fair enough. As mentioned earlier, the C70 Inscription is extra power. Like other C70 models, it has front drive and a five-speed automatic transmission. Manual shifting is standard, though of the console tip-shift type, not paddle.

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John is a veteran auto writer, first published in Custom Rodder magazine in 1980. Since then, he has been published in all the big car magazines, including Car and Driver, Road & Track, Motor Trend, Auto Week, Automobile, plus a variety of others, including but certainly not limited to Automobile Quarterly, Collectible Automobile, and Special Interest Automobiles. John’s work has also been featured in a number of consumer and general interest magazines such as Consumers Digest, Popular Science and others. John has written four books, including a history of the Mazda RX-7 (selling for more out-of-print than it did new), buyers’ guides for Mazda, Datsun/Nissan and Volvo cars, and is co-author of 365 Cars You Must Drive with Motor Trend editor Matt Stone, and his work has been translated into Italian, Estonian, Portuguese, Russian, and Bulgarian. John is recipient of the prestigious Ken Purdy Award for Excellence in Automotive Journalism, awarded by the International Motor Press Association, and the Golden Quill from the Washington Automotive Press Association. John has three adult daughters and has been married for more that four decades to Mary Ann, Distinguished Professor of Mathematics at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania.

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