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The people who brought you slab-sided safety now give you style and speed. The C70 is as long as the V70 estate with which it shares its platform, but tricks the eye thanks to sculpted sides and narrowing lines front and rear - both firsts for Volvo.
Electric front seats adjust in all directions and give good lateral support; the high waistline gives the impression of sitting low and headroom is generous. There are two proper rear seats and nearly as much leg and headroom as in a V70. Standard toys include air-con, cruise control and a superb stereo featuring three-CD autochanger, 10 speakers and 400 watts.
Other raucous sounds come from the 2.5-litre, 240bhp T5 engine. It pulls well with a distinctive five-cylinder growl from low revs, but over 3,000rpm the turbo whistles and the C70 simply flies.
The optional four-speed auto is a good match for the motor, shifting quickly and smoothly to get the most out of its torquey character but the five-speed manual is more fun. The power steering is taut and communicative but with no torque steer despite the massive power going through the front wheels. The stiff body and sport suspension settings reduce body roll, and handling is stable, safe and FUN. If things do go wrong, there's ABS brakes, front and side airbags.
Slower versions of the C70 will come early in '98, but until then we're happy with the T5. It isn't cheap but it's unique - no other coupe offers the same blend of space, pace and safety.