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2012 Volvo C70 T5 Inscription first drive

By KBB.com Editors on March 15, 2012 4:35 PM
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Unveiled last fall at the Los Angeles Auto Show, the 2012 Volvo C70 Inscription has finally arrived in showrooms across the country. We recently got the chance to spend some quality time in uniquely appointed -- and even more potent -- version of Volvo's sporty retractable-hardtop convertible during our foray to Arizona that also involved close encounters with its 2012 Volvo XC70 T6, XC60 T6 R-Design and C30 stablemates.

By way of quick recap, the Volvo C70 line has undergone the same 2012 model-name/package revamp as the rest of the automaker's lineup. Otherwise largely carryover, it's now offered in C70 T5, Premium Plus and Platinum trims, with even the entry-level offering adding standard Bluetooth and audio streaming capability.

Limited to 500 copies for the U.S. market, the $3,900 C70 Inscription Package is available on either the Premium Plus ($42,325) or Platinum ($44,925) models. Beyond various exterior/interior cosmetic touches that net Active bi-xenon headlamps, LED running lights, custom 18-inch alloy wheels, an extra helping of leather - including full coverage on the dash - a sport steering wheel and aluminum pedals, it also gets a 10-percent power bump and 11 percent more torque courtesy of some custom engine control module tuning developed by Volvo's international racing partner, Polestar.

The Polestar upgrade raises maximum turbo boost, remaps the throttle for quicker response, modifies the spark timing, richens the fuel mix and tweaks several lesser engine parameters. Collectively, these changes increase output of the C70 T5's standard turbocharged/intercooled 2.5-liter inline-five cylinder engine from 227 to 250 horses and bump peak torque from 236 to 273 lb-ft. Still backed by the mandatory five-speed Geartronic automatic transmission, that extra muscle trims the Inscription's 0-60 mph time from 6.6 to 6.3 seconds without impacting the car's baseline 19/28 mph city/highway EPA numbers. Of equal importance, the Polestar tweak comes backed with the full Volvo warranty. For an additional $1,295, it can also be factory fitted on any 2012 C70 T5 -- or dealer installed as an accessory on any 2008 or newer model.

While that Polestar pump admittedly endows this Volvo with a bit more visceral attitude, even in Inscription guise, it remains a cruiser at heart. Impressively safe, comfortable and capable, our time behind the wheel confirmed this primo C70 variant is still not in the same league as an Audi A4 or BMW 3 Series drop top when it comes to corner-carving prowess and structural rigidity. Premium interior enhancements aside, the Inscription's cabin also suffers from the C70's fundamental lack of rear legroom that makes its aft quarters suitable only for small kids. Even so, hard-core Volvo fans may well find the C70 T5 Inscription's added spine tingle and element of exclusivity make the extra cost it commands a price worth paying.

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