Design and Engineering

Design and Engineering

Good The uniquely styled C30 arrived Down Under in early 2007 with a mid-life facelift update following in May 2010. Its styling is concept car like and not surprisingly this is a Volvo that attracts attention on the street. We love the broad shouldered rear end, the oversized wheel arches and the wild rear glass hatch design that pays tribute to the classic P1800 Volvo of yesteryear.
Not so good Volvo market the C30 as a sports coupe, which it isn’t. It’s a premium small segment hatch (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Underneath the skin, the C30 shares much of its mechanicals with the more sensible shaped S40 Volvo sedan and V50 wagon – and all three share their platform with the less expensive Ford Focus (again, this isn’t a reason not to buy, as the Focus is one of the better handling small cars on the market).
Interior and Styling

Interior and Styling

Good The C30’s interior is refreshingly minimalist and feels premium. Quality fit and finish; vision forwards from the front row is better than most, thanks to a relatively low dash height that is finished in a nice soft rubber-like plastic. We’re also fans of the cool ‘floating’ centre console, a Volvo design trait (which by the way Toyota has taken inspiration from on the competing Toyota Prius). All buttons and controls are logically arranged, easy to use and the driver’s console digital displays are nice and simple. The driving position is comfortable – thanks to a steering wheel that adjusts for both rake (up and down) and reach (in and out) and large, yet supportive front seats. The rear bench seat (whilst not that easy to get into) is comfortably designed and legroom is o.k. for what is a small size hatch. As it’s only a two-seater in the rear, shoulder room is fine for even decent sized adults.
Not so good Storage space in the C30 is only average with a small glove box, not enough clever storage cubbies, a lack of cup holders and undersized door pockets. The doors are long (an unfortunate trait on nearly all three door hatches) so care must be taken when opening in tight spots. The uniquely styled exterior comes at the expense of rear interior space, with minimal head room for those approaching six foot. Entry and exit to the rear bench is also more difficult than ideal thanks to the front seat belts being in the way. Boot space is below average for this segment vehicle – the opening is also smaller than ideal.
Performance

Performance

Good There are two engines on offer across four variants; the C30 DRIVe features a 1.6-litre turbo diesel that produces 84kW of power and 270Nm of torque. The turbo diesel is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission (no auto option) and has stop/start technology which explains the official fuel consumption figure of 3.9-litres per 100km (combined). The Volvo T5, T5 Lifestyle and T5 R-Design all share the same 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine. The 2.5-litre engine is mated to a 6-speed manual or 5-speed adaptive Geartronic auto, producing 169kW of power and 320Nm of torque while sipping 8.7-litres per 100km (official combined). The ‘DRIVe’ variant might not offer much power, but the 250Nm of torque ensures it’ll handle steep terrain more easily than a number of little petrol engine small cars. This grade also features stop-start technology, an excellent feature whereby the engine stops whenever at standstill and quickly starts again once the driver depresses the clutch pedal.
Not so good The ‘DRIVe’ grade is by no means fast and whilst stop-start is an excellent feature, it isn’t as seamless as we’d hoped. In heavy traffic, the sound of the slightly noisy diesel starting up all the time makes us wish the engine was less audible.
Ride and Handling

Ride and Handling

Good Over smooth surfaces the C30 is a comfortable, refined premium small car that won’t ruffle feathers with 90% of new car buyers. The steering is light, has a tight turning circle (important in city environments) and offers ok feedback. The ride is relatively supple yet isn’t too soft that it loses all composure when pushed.
Not so good Whilst the C30 shares much of its underpinnings with the impressive handling Ford Focus and Mazda 3 small cars, it can’t match either in the handling stakes. It is more prone to understeer and ride quality is less than impressive over typical rough Australian roads – it isn’t as fun to drive when you head to the hills. The steering also offers less feedback than the segment’s best.
Buying and Owning

Buying and Owning

Good As one would expect from a Volvo, the C30 ticks the safety box with an excellent crash safety rating and high levels of passive and active safety features as standard. The unique five-cylinder petrol engine is spoken of as being reliable and long lasting and the diesel grade is very economical. All grades come with a host of standard features like rear park assist, high performance sound system, Bluetooth audio streaming, dedicated LED Daytime Running Lights and USB input for iPod connectivity.
Not so good Unlike a number of competitors the C30 only sits four. The fantastic styling equates to less than fantastic rearward visibility especially when parking. Satellite navigation is an expensive option.