The Volvo C30 is a stylish three-door hatchback based on the discontinued S40 sedan. Though not as quick or nimble as some competitors, its handling is responsive enough to satisfy, and its comfortable ride and chic interior are selling points.
While Volvo has been known more for safety than standout style in years past, the C30 represents a break from the company's past. Cues like a tapering roofline, rising rear "hips" and a unique glass hatchback that recalls the classic Volvo P1800ES from the 1970s, the C30 has a sleek and sporty look that sets it apart. Since its introduction in 2008, the C30 has been updated with a redesigned front-end highlighted by swept-back headlights and a more curvaceous bumper.
Swedish minimalism characterizes the interior, which features a simple and legible two-gauge instrument panel, a soft-touch dashboard and Volvo's elegant "floating" center console. One area where the C30 falls short is cargo space, which is compromised by the exterior design. Stowage space behind the rear seats is just 12.2 cubic feet, while 20.2 cubic feet are available with the rear seats folded. In comparison, the Volkswagen Golf three-door hatchback maxes out at 46 cubic feet.
The C30 is powered by a turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-five with 227 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque. That power puts it roughly in the middle between the base and high-output motors offered by rivals. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, while clutch-averse buyers can let their left foot rest by opting for a five-speed automatic. Fuel economy is rated at 21 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway for the manual, while choosing the automatic adds a single mpg in the highway cycle.
The chassis, which features MacPherson struts up front and a multilink setup at the rear, is tuned to provide an optimal balance between handling and comfort. The ride won't beat drivers up when traversing crumbling roads (although the R-Spec model's suspension is quite firm), and, while not sports-car agile, the handling is
Standard and Optional Features
The C30 is available in T5 and sporty R-Design trim levels.
The T5 comes standard with A/C, power windows and locks, an AM/FM/CD stereo system with an iPod input jack, Bluetooth smartphone connectivity with audio streaming, cruise control and 17-inch alloy wheels.
The R-Design comes with a number of distinctive styling cues and range topping features. Standard equipment include off-black Flextech/Creme premium leather seating surfaces with embossed R-Design logo, a special front grille with matte silver surround and R-Design logo, matte finish outside rearview mirrors, R-Design watch dial instrument cluster, unique aluminum inlays, R-Design sport steering wheel and sport pedals. It gains standard fog lights and a trip computer for the new model year.
Three optional equipment packages are available. The Premier package adds a sunroof, power-adjustable front seats, aluminum inlay interior trim and LED running lights. The Premier Plus package includes all the Premier Plus features in addition to keyless drive and active Xenon headlights. Finally, the Platinum package builds on the previous packages with a navigation system and 650-watt premium sound system with SiriusXM radio.
Upholding Volvo's tradition for safety, the C30 comes standard with dual front, front side and full-length side-curtain airbags in addition to the automaker's patented front safety structure. Traction and stability control systems and a tire-pressure monitoring system are also included.
If you based the competition on its quirky styling alone, the C30 would be in a class of its own thanks to its truly one-of-a-kind tail, but from a practicality standpoint the MINI Cooper S, Volkswagen GTI and Audi A3 all make reasonable substitutions. If you don't mind sacrificing some luxury, the Honda Civic Si coupe might fulfill the fun factor in a similar size and at a decent cost savings as well.