The C30 marks Volvo’s return to the hatchback coupe market in America, a segment that the Swedish maker avoided for decades. The 2009 Volvo C30 faces tough competition, but those cars are becoming ubiquitous enough that it is time for more challengers in the hatchback market. While the 2009 Volvo C30 doesn’t quite compare to segment leaders in the handling department, the combination of power, styling, features, customization through options, and Volvo's laudable safety, make this a viable hatchback option, even in a crowded market.
Body Styles: hatchback coupe
Engines: 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder
Transmissions: six-speed manual, five-speed automatic
Models: C30 T5, C30 T5 R-Design
For 2009, the Volvo C30 shuns the software-inspired trim level names and uses more generalized titles like T5 and T5 R-Design. There are a number of small interior and exterior styling changes. There are also changes to the options packages and navigation operation.
The 2009 Volvo C30 is offered in two trim levels. The base T5 has 17-inch alloy wheels, while the T5 R-Design trim level adds 18-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, and specific exterior accents.
There are a multitude of options for either trim level. Buyers should note that adding any of these options results in a one-time $300 customization charge. Some exterior options include bi-xenon headlights, power-retractable side mirrors, headlight washers, a sunroof, and park distance control.
It appears as though Volvo put more effort than usual into the style of the C30. This is not surprising since buyers in this segment seem to place a priority on style and looks above anything else.
On the inside, the base T5 has a 50/50-split rear seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with audio controls, full power accessories, and an eight-speaker CD audio system with an auxiliary audio jack. T5 R-Design adds cruise control, satellite radio, a 10-speaker surround-sound audio system, aluminum dash inlays, and a watch-dial-inspired instrument panel. Most of the T5 R-Design features are available as options for the base T5.
Continuing the long list of options are a hard-drive-based navigation system with real-time traffic, a blind-spot warning system, Bluetooth, leather upholstery, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, power front seats, heated seats, and keyless ignition. There is a large selection of custom exterior colors, wheel designs and interior trim choices. This is unusual for Volvo and probably another nod to the style conscious buyers in this segment.
Performance & Handling
All of the 2009 Volvo C30 models are powered by a turbocharged, 2.5-liter, inline five-cylinder engine that produces 227 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque. All models are front-wheel drive and make use of either a standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional five-speed automatic. Tests show that a manual-equipped C30 turns in a respectable zero-to-60-mph time of 6.4 seconds. While not a class leader for power, the C30 does have an impressive amount of acceleration.
The 2009 Volvo C30 handling is a bit on the sporty side but doesn’t quite compare to the class leading MINI Cooper. The C30 is much quieter and smoother than the MINI Cooper, making it a better option for daily use. The C30 is a bit on the heavy side, which negatively impacts handling. For drivers who want some fun, but still a reliable daily car, the 2009 Volvo C30 is a very good choice.
The 2009 Volvo C30's 15.9-gallon tank allows it to travel 302 city miles and 445 highway miles on a full load of gas.
Volvo is known for safety and its own rigorous crash tests have shown this small car to be as safe as sedans and worthy of the Volvo safety reputation. Standard features include anti-lock four-wheel brakes, an antiskid system, daytime running lights, and Volvo's Intelligent Driver Information System (IDIS), a feature that delays certain functions, such as a phone call when the driver is engaged in a more complicated maneuver like heavy braking or turning. Also included are front, side, and side-curtain airbags, seatbelt pretensioners for all four seats, a side-impact protection system, a whiplash protection system, and dynamic stability traction control. A rear obstacle detection system and lane-departure warning system are available as options.
EPA Fuel Economy
C30: 19/28 mpg city/highway
- Comfortable front seats
- Options list
- Build quality
You Won't Like
- Small backseat
- Lack of cargo space
- Can get pricey with options
A combination of power, safety, and comfort.
If You Like This Vehicle
- MINI Cooper
- Volkswagen GTI
- Audi TT