I learned a lont time ago not to judge a car by my first impression.
I'd see a car unveiled at an auto show and be dazzled. But then I'd see the same car on the street a few months later and wonder what I had been thinking.
The opposite also can be true: A car that didn't impress me at first glance -- or even at my first brief turn behind the wheel -- can be stunning on the road or can grow on you the more you drive.
I find the 2012 Volvo C70 Inscription to be one of those cars that I like the more I'm in it.
I drove it very briefly a month or so ago at a media event at which Volvo introduced us to several new products. Now, I've liked the C70 since its launch, but I didn't quite get this new Inscription version, which adds $3,900 -- a nearly 10 percent premium -- to the car's base price.
Included in the Inscription package is Polestar tuning. Polestar is a Swedish auto racing team that has found its way into the Volvo factory, where it uses computer software to extract 23 more horsepower and 37 more pound-feet of torque from the car's 2.5-liter, turbocharged five-cylinder engine.
The Inscription setup also includes 18-inch wheels with a gloss black finish, a gloss-black grille, active dual Xenon headlamps, LED daytime running lights with chrome trim, rear spoiler, a leather-covered dashboard with contrast stitching, chrome pedals, a sports steering wheel with aluminum inserts, leather-covered armrest and handbrake lever and specially embroidered front seats.
That's in addition to standard equipment that includes a power retracting steel hardtop, Sovereign hide leather upholstery, aluminum inlays in the center console, eight-way front seats, dual-zone climate control, a trip computer, Bluetooth, heated mirrors, covered storage compartments for each of the four seating positions, cup holders front and rear, all sorts of Volvo state-of-the-art safety equipment, and an eight-speaker audio system.
Base price is $40,450. As noted the Inscription package adds $3,900. Our test car also arrived with a $3,600 C70 Platinum package -- navigation, premium audio with subwoofer, rear parking assist and more -- as well as heated front seats, a rain sensor, blind-spot mirrors, metallic paint, wind blocker and a couple more items that brought the as-tested price to $51,570.
With the new C70 Inscription, a Polestar-tweaked C30 (with manual) and a couple of sport utility/crossover vehicles to drive at the recent press event, I really hadn't gotten much time in the C70, certainly not enough to get a feel for the extra power, and I wondered why someone might want a leather-covered dashboard -- especially someone who lives here in Phoenix, where that leather could be exposed to some serious UV rays.
Of course, anyone who buys such a car would most likely park it only in a garage or covered parking lot, and after a couple of days in the test car, I really like the look of that wide expanse of leather.
And those thin-spoke, gloss-black finished wheels give this low-slung Black Sapphire Metallic-painted car a downright sinister appearance.
Wow! Did I just use "Volvo" and "sinister appearance" in the same sentence?
Yes, I did, because now I've also had enough time to experience the extra pull from the Polestar software. You really can drive this thing like a getaway car.
And I mean getaway as in bank robbery, though the car would be delightful for a simple weekend getaway with your BFF, top-down and cruising along the beach or through forested mountains.