Introduced in 2008, the Volvo C30 continues to delight those who "get it," that is, they recall the off-beat 1972 Volvo P1800 hatchback. Both the base T5 and T5 R-Design are front-wheel drive and powered by Volvo's lively 2.5-liter 227-hp turbocharged 5-cylinder engine, coupled to a standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional six-speed automatic.
Inside and out, the C30 exudes Swedish design flair, highlighted by a premium and ergonomic interior with thoughtful safety touches, like the whiplash protection seats. It also features plenty of the latest infotainment and connectivity features like Bluetooth, HD radio, and iPod control. As a diminutive two-door, the C30's twin rear seats offer limited passenger room, but with their seatbacks folded, cargo room expands to 20.2 cubic feet.
The C30 is sporty, fun, well-connected, and safe, evidenced by its IIHS Top Safety Pick for 2011. Enthusiast drivers could do worse, especially at its premium price: the base T5 begins at $24,700, and the R-Design begins at $27,100, less taxes and fees.
Bodystyle: two-door hatchback
Engine: 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-5
Transmissions: six-speed manual, five-speed automatic
Models: T5, T5 R-Design
Newly standard on the C30 T5 R-Design is a new sport suspension with firmer springs and shock absorber damping, and a quicker steering ratio. Both the T5 and T5 R-Design have received all-new front styling for 2011 which includes a new fascia, fenders, reshaped headlights, honeycomb grille, and a more prominent Volvo badge. Orange Flame metallic has been added to the exterior color palate, as has an Off Black/Blonde interior trim.
The C30 is a polarizing design, punctuated by its large, glass rear hatch (a design cue cribbed from the classic Volvo P1800). By most accounts, though, it's a great looking sports coupe with xenon headlights and LED daytime running lights, a black grille, polished exhaust tips, and 17-inch wheels.
The C30's interior is a study in Swedish restraint and elegance, and features a version of Volvo's signature waterfall-look center stack as its central attraction. Select the R-Design trim and you'll get leather seats with an embossed logo, watch-look instruments and an R-Design steering wheel and pedals. The audio is powered by a 160- or 650-watt system, handling Bluetooth, iPod and HD radio connectivity, and an available GPS navigation.
Performance & Handling
Volvo's C30 is a slightly schizophrenic performer, offering solid measured performance (for instance, a 6.3-second sprint to 60 mph for the manual transmission model) while lacking the tactile feel to match it. It brakes well, handles well, and is sporty enough for the enthusiast, but it isn't as fun as its styling suggests.
The C30 comes with an electronic traction and stability control, a whiplash protection system, driver and front passenger front and side-impact airbags. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's testing rates the C30 as "Top Safety Pick."
EPA Fuel Economy
Manual transmission: 21 mpg city/29 mpg highway
Automatic transmission: 21 mpg city/30 mpg highway
- Clean, flexible interior
- R-Design sports suspension
- Unique exterior style
You Won't Like
- Compact rear-seat space
- Premium price
Funky Premium Hatch
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