The Auto Trader expert verdict:
The Swedish manufacturer has stepped out of its usual territory with the Volvo C30 and given us an unconventional coupe-like hatchback. It’s not the most practical, but it has integrity.
Reasons to buy:
- Quirky looks
- Scandinavian interior design
- Wide range of good engines
How good does it look?
Our bright red Volvo C30 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. The rear in particular 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 wide rear haunches. Interestingly Volvo refer to the C30 not as a hatchback, but as a coupe – so it’s also a rival to the Volkswagen Scirocco and Renault Megane Coupe.
What's the interior like?
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. The dashboard is typical Volvo fare – well laid out, but minimalist. It also has Volvo’s trademark ‘floating’ centre console, which allows for some useful storage, behind the thin fascia. The optional sat-nav system was a nice touch, with its pop-up screen and remote control, and the upgraded Dynaudio stereo was one of the best we’ve heard in this class.
How practical is it?
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.
What's it like to drive?
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. It’s no hot hatch, however; but it is more comfortable and serene than one.
How powerful is it?
We tried the 2-litre petrol engined C30; which is one of two petrol powerplants on offer – the other being a T5 turbocharged 2.5-litre with 227bhp. Three diesels are also on offer in 1.6-litre D2, 2-litre D3 and 2.4-litre D4 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 change gear smoothly and complement the C30’s relaxed demeanour.
How much will it cost me?
The Volvo C30 feels like a premium car; and it is priced to match. The 2.0 SE is cheaper than its equivalent Audi A3, but more 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 37mpg on average, and service intervals are a slightly-lengthier-than-usual 12,500 miles or 12 months. Insurance is about average at group for all but the high-performance petrol models, while emissions of 177g/km are high. Cheaper to run are the diesel models, particularly the 1.6 DRIVe which can average 74.3mpg and emits just 99g/km of CO2.
How reliable is it?
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. Since its launch the C30 has been recalled a significant number of times to resolve potential issues including braking system and gearbox faults.
How safe is it?
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 Euro NCAP 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, anti-lock braking (ABS) with brakeforce distribution, electronic stability programme (ESP), traction control and seat backs designed to reduce whiplash.
How much equipment do I get?
All models count climate control with pollen filters, electric windows and a CD/radio as standard. Trim levels are ES, SE, SE Lux, DRIVe and R-Design. DRIVe models are focussed on economy and low emissions and get start and stop technology and aerodynamic alloy wheels. R-Design trim gives the C30 its sportiest look, thanks to a more aggressive body kit. Sadly no models in the range have a spare wheel, relying on tyre foam and a compressor to get the driver home.
Looks great, drives well and it’s 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. Visit the Volvo website now for more information on the Volvo C30.