Style Steps – Volvo’s double C; Mercedes’ roots

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2006 Volvo C70 Coupe/Convertible  2006 Volvo C70 Coupe/Convertible
Volvo has taken the lead in giving consumers the option of purchasing a new ride as both a coupe and convertible with its new 2006 C70. The fact that it has accomplished such a feat before BMW, Jaguar or Porsche is phenomenal.

From the standpoint of style, the C70 is truly delectable eye candy, whether the top is up or down. The only thing needed to ice the package is a sweeter set of chrome wheels. Its pricing is incredible: $38,710 ($695 destination charge) gets you in the door and includes the six-speed manual transmission (the five-speed automatic transmission is optional for $1,250); aluminum dash; six-disc in-dash CD changer; trip computer; and 17-inch “Sadira” aluminum rims. Finally, the C70 is a true four-seater, a rare commodity in the convertible world.

Keep in mind, however, that this vehicle is not about speed or performance. This Volvo is designed for comfort, safety and usability, so don’t expect the power of a BMW 3-Series. Even so, the C70’s T5 218-horsepower I5 engine is turbocharged and moves the car quickly enough to squeak through traffic but not fast enough to burst out of the gates. The C70’s three-piece steel retractable top folds back in less than 30 seconds. It uses an electric motor, hydraulic pump and a computer to go back and forth. When stowed, however, your trunk space is cut from 12.8 cubic feet to six. You also get seat-mounted side-impact bags; the front seats feature whiplash protection; and pop-up roll bars intercede during a rollover to create a high-strength force field. (Seat belts are needed.)

Mercedes-Benz 2007 S-Class Mercedes-Benz 2007 S-Class
Mercedes-Benz is reaching into the archives with the 2007 S-Class, going back to a styling theme that once defined the marque’s flagship car. Remember the S-Class that was produced from 1992 to 1998? It was a large, hulking affair that arrogantly spoke of German excellence. When you saw one from a distance you knew exactly what it was, and longed for a set of keys to such an exclusive ride. The big-body style was replaced by the smaller S-Class produced from 1998 to 2006. It was a nice car, but styling was less than inspired. It was difficult to tell that generation S-Class from Benz’s own C-Class, much less the Honda Accord and other Asian brands. Can you say “generic”? Well, all of that is history now.

When we first saw the new “S,” we were struck by how similar its style was to the ultraluxury Maybach. It has the same basic lines, but is enhanced with “bustle back” styling and a taller waistline than the Maybach. Wide wheel arches give the side look an aggressive demeanor. Styling is just plain sexy, and a marked improvement over the previous generation.

Under the hood, look for even more power. Gone is the 5.0-liter, 302-horsepower V8. The 2007 “base” model, the S550, now sports a 5.5-liter 382-horsepower V8 that moves out with authority. Inside you will find utopia. Interior (and exterior) dimensions are larger than the previous generation’s, and the technology feast continues. How about black-panel dashboard technology with electroluminescent gauges? How about an easy-to-use COMAND system and Harman/Kardon 14-speaker Logic 7 5.1 surround system? How about a full panorama moon roof?   

Kimatni D. Rawlins is the publisher of Automotive Rhythms and host of “The Urban Automotive Experience.” Visit www.AutomotiveRhythms.com.