Roofless class and exclusivity

2012 Volvo C70 T5 Inscription First Impressions

By Rob Rothwell
2012 Volvo C70 T5 Inscription First Impressions

Summary Rating: 72%

Styling

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Accessories

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Space and Access

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Comfort

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Performance

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Driving Dynamics

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Safety

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General Appreciation

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PHOENIX, Arizona - Volvo has a low-volume, special edition of its luxurious C70 hardtop convertible headed to the shores of North America. Annually, only 500 purchasers this side of the Atlantic and 2,000 worldwide will be fortunate enough to secure a key to the Inscription, a more powerful and exclusive example of topless Swedish sophistication.

More power – how delightful
The seductive Volvo C70 T5 hardtop convertible has never been viewed as muscular despite the presence of a 2.5L, DOHC turbocharged 5-cylinder engine; that is, until now. Thanks to its long-standing partnership with Polestar, a Swedish racing and performance company, Volvo has upped the output of its T5 engine to 250 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. This represents a gain of 23 hp and 37 lb-ft of twist.

2012 Volvo C70 T5 Inscription rear 3/4 view
Only 500 purchasers this side of the Atlantic will be fortunate enough to secure a key to the Inscription, a more powerful and exclusive example of topless Swedish sophistication. (Photo: Rob Rothwell/Auto123.com)

The notable boost in strength is attributable to Polestar. They developed a new engine control module for the T5 powerplant that forces more air and fuel into the mill while altering spark timing and other engine-related functions to derive greater performance without diminishing fuel economy or increasing exhaust emissions.

The reprogramming only takes effect above 3,000 rpm, which ensures that the 2012 Volvo C70 T5 remains gentle and fluid during low demand scenarios but exhibits much more responsiveness and clout when asked to step up to the plate.

The larger stable of horses is harnessed to a 5-speed automatic transmission featuring Volvo’s manual-mode shifting. It should be noted that many Euro competitors – and some domestic for that matter – now utilize seven and eight-speed transmissions.

While Volvo’s autobox performed well during my testing, it is becoming somewhat dated. Generally speaking, more cogs in the box lead to greater performance and efficiency. The C70’s economy ratings are decent but not stellar at 11.0 L/100km and 6.8 L/100km city/highway driving respectively. These figures apply to both the conventional T5 engine the more powerful Polestar version that propels the C70 T5 Inscription.

Volvo estimates a 0-100 km/h run of 8.0 seconds for the C70 T5, which will likely satisfy most of the target audience. Adding Polestar performance-tuning drops the sprint time to 7.6 seconds, which is more in keeping with expectations in the $50-60K range, and that’s where the C70 T5 Inscription sits.

2012 Volvo C70 T5 Inscription front 3/4 view
Volvo estimates a 0-100 km/h run of 8.0 seconds for the C70 T5, which will likely satisfy most of the target audience. (Photo: Volvo)

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