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From]Auto Express[/url]

The roof is definitely coming off at Volvo. Not only is the Swedish company set to unveil its C50 convertible later this year, but it also has Porsche in its sights with a top-secret Boxster rival that will arrive in showrooms in 2005.

Auto Express has exclusive details of the hot newcomer, which will make its public debut only four months after the eagerly anticipated compact cabriolet. The latter car will be the Swedish star of this autumn's Paris Motor Show.

The C50 - which Volvo says will be designed and produced by Italian styling house Pininfarina - is based on Ford's Focus C1 platform and features front-wheel drive and an electric folding roof.

Priced below £20,000, the four-seat model will rival newcomers such as the drop-top Renault Mégane and Peugeot 307 CC, and will complete the firm's small car line-up, following the launch of the S40 and V50. The new roadster, however, is tipped to be an all-out two-seat driver's machine, priced from £30,000 and expected to produce 300bhp from a turbocharged 2.5-litre engine. It will also be the first rear-wheel-drive Volvo since the Eighties. Although the firm is staying tight-lipped about the project, the convertible could make its debut at 2005's Detroit Motor Show, serving as a flagship for the fledgling R performance brand.

The car was revealed to top brass in Spain earlier this month alongside a finished C50 prototype. Its aggressive look, penned by a Pininfarina team led by Volvo design chief Peter Horbury, is said to herald a new styling direction for the company. However, the bold shoulder line and radiator grille of the V70, S60 and recently introduced S40 and V50 remains.

Meanwhile, Volvo is recalling 10,000 cars due to a problem with steering ball joints which could affect handling on S60, V70 and S80 models built during 2003. The firm is contacting owners.
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