Ten Point Test


Auto Trader Ten Point Test rating: 78%

The Volvo C30 marks a radical change of direction for Volvo. While most of its range plays safe, tipping a nod to its safe and subtle past; the C30 tears up the rulebook, creating something unique.

In fact, the coupe/hatchback C30 is one of the biggest headturners on the road, with its pretty front and radical rear – complete with one-piece glass tailgate.

But does the four seat C30 have ability beneath its sharp suit? We drove one for a week to find out.

1. Looks 9/10

Volvo’s current advertising campaign explores the C30’s ‘love it or loath it’ looks, but its ability to turn heads isn’t in doubt. Our bright red test car had a bodykit fitted, but even without it, its radical looks put the C30 in a different league from the likes of the Golf or Focus. Its front end has shades of Audi A3, but the rear has a look all of its own. It’s dominated by a one-piece tinted glass tailgate, framed by two teardrop-shaped rear lights mounted in its fat haunches.

2. Looks inside 7/10

The most radical part of the Volvo’s interior is the lack of a nominal third seat in the rear. It has two sculpted seats, with an arm rest between them, but having one less seat than normal will limit the car’s appeal. It does, however mean there will always be plenty of space in the rear; which is useful given the cabin tapers inwards towards the back of the car. Our C30 also had red carpets, which is unusual and was the subject of fierce debate during our time with the car.

The dashboard is typical Volvo fare – well laid out, but plain. It also has Volvo’s trademark ‘floating’ centre console, which allows for some useful storage. The £1,850 optional sat-nav system was a nice touch, with its pop-up screen and remote control, and the £1,400 upgraded Dynaudio stereo was one of the best we’ve heard.

3. Practicality 6/10

We’ve already mentioned the lack of a third seat in the back, and the boot is equally quirky. There is no traditional luggage cover which lifts with the bootlid, rather a fabric cover supported by two struts. To cover the odd-shaped boot, the front and back of the cover are pulled tight by elastic straps. This made accessing the boot a two-handed affair, which was frustrating when carrying shopping; although a hard cover is an option. There was plenty of space for all occupants, however with sufficient room for odds and ends.

4. Ride and Handling 8/10

The C30 handles well, proving itself on a variety of road types and surfaces. It offers plenty of feedback, and could be hustled along at a decent pace without drama. And despite the optional 18-inch wheels fitted to our test car, the ride was good too. Its no hot hatch, however; but it is more comfortable and serene than one.

5. Performance 7/10

We tried the 2-litre petrol engined C30; which is one of five petrol powerplants on offer – 1.6, 1.8 and 2.4 turbocharged 2.5 configurations are also available. Three diesels are also on offer in 1.6, 2.0 and 2.4 guises. The 2-litre petrol is a credible performer; matching most of its rivals in the performance stakes: 0-60mph in 8.8 seconds and a top speed of 130mph. The automatic – dubbed Geartronic – models are slightly slower, but only available with the 2.4 and 2.5 petrols and 2.5 diesel.

6. Running Costs 7/10

The Volvo C30 feels like a premium car; and it is priced to match. Our 2.0 SE is cheaper than its equivalent Audi A3, but about £4,000 dearer than a Ford Focus. Depreciation is less severe than with the Ford however; the C30 retains around half its original list price after three years/60,000 miles, against 30 – 40 per cent for the Focus. The 2-litre model we drove manages around 38mpg on average, and service intervals are a slightly-lengthier-than-usual 12,500 miles or 12 months. Insurance is about average at group 12, while emissions of 174g/km place it in Band E, which currently costs £165 per year.

7. Reliability 8/10

Volvos are renowned for their reliability, and mechanically the C30 should be no different. Our test car showed some points for concern, with a badly fitting bodykit, and some sharp edges around the cabin.

8. Safety 9/10

Safety is Volvo’s biggest attraction for many buyers, so it will come as no surprise to learn it achieved a full five star rating in the EuroNCAP crash test programme for adult occupant safety, and four stars for child protection. All models in the range feature the same level of safety kit, which includes driver, passenger, front side and curtain airbags, ABS with brakeforce distribution, stability and traction control and seat backs designed to reduce whiplash.

9. Equipment 8/10

All models count climate control with pollen filters, electric windows and a CD/radio as standard. Our SE Sport test car – the third of four trim levels – also featured cruise control, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, 18-inch alloys and a bodykit as standard. Sadly no models in the range have a spare wheel, relying on tyre foam and a compressor to get the driver home.

10. X-Factor 9/10

Looks great, drives well and supremely safe, the Volvo C30 is a real alternative to the other formulaic models in the small family car market. There are few other car makers with the guts – or the vision – to build a car as radical as the C30.

Key facts

Model tested: Volvo C30 2.0 SE Sport
On the road price: £19,995
Price range: £14,750 – £23,795
Date tested: April 2007
Road tester: Stuart Milne