The Volvo C30 is the Swedish carmaker’s bid to reach out from its conservative reputation to a younger, more dynamic car buyer. With the C30 Volvo managed to create an impressive vehicle that handles well, looks great, and is very safe. However, many of the intended buyers were put off by Volvo’s popularity with older generations. This led to the C30 never really taking off with the younger set despite being a great car, but that doesn’t mean that used versions can be picked up cheaply.
From launch, the Volvo C30 had a bold design that made it stand out from the crowd, and a revamp five years ago of various nips and tucks to its design made it even more appealing.
Along with its fellow Swedish neighbour Saab, Volvo has struggled to reach out to new markets, which is a shame since the cars are extremely well built, reliable, and famous for their high safety levels that include many ideas that are ground-breaking and have been copied often by competitors.
The Volvo C30 is a lot of car for the money, and though it has been designed with younger buyers in mind, it also makes for an excellent small family car.
Volvo engines are nothing short of indestructible, with their 2.5-litre turbo diesel engine being a particularly good value and cheap to run. Owners can expect power output of 162kW at 5,000rpm, and the C30’s impressive torque figures of 320Nm at 1,500 to 4,800rpm make this little car great at pulling heavy loads. Fuel consumption is around 11.9L/100km. There’s also a non-turbo available in the range.
After Ford took over Volvo, it introduced one of its global platforms, so the C30’s most recent form has similar dimensions to the Ford Focus.
The engines are surprisingly responsive and are excellent driving around town, but they really show their mettle at high speeds on long journeys when the engine noise particularly quiet. Traction control on the Volvo C30 is also very impressive and, as you expect from a car heading towards a premium end of the market, the handling is firm and assured, especially at high speed and when cornering.
After 2006, the C30 came with a range of impressive smaller engines, including a 1.6-litre petrol version and a 1.8-litre Flexifuel, the latter of which was one of the first real eco engines. The 1.6-litre engine is pretty good with 74 kW at 6000rpm and torque of 150Nm at 4000rpm. The Flexifuel offered 92kW at 6000 and torque of 165Nm at 4000.
The level of kit on the Volvo C30 is generally very good, with the safety elements being considered best in class and earning the C30 a 5-star ANCAP rating. These include side safety curtains and airbags as well as rear impact protection.
After the most recent revamp the cheapest C30 pitched in at the lower end of the premium car sector, but it had an impressive range of standard equipment. The most recent update took place in 2010 and included redesigned front wings, a visible exhaust tailpipe in the T5 and D5 models, and an optional sport chassis. There are lots of options which tend to come in ‘packs’, such as the Teknik pack that includes rear parking sensors, Bluetooth, sat nav, and a blind spot recognition system.
The Volvo C30 sold well in Europe, which is the mainstay of the Volvo market, but there are lots of models available and they are worth seeking out. Equivalent competitors include the Mini Cooper, Audi A3, and possibly the Mazda3 and Ford Focus – the last two of which share the same platform. Most of the C30 models will also give the VW Golf GTi a run for its money.
The C30 is a great car with great safety and nice handling, but it doesn’t really have any direct competition – search out the impressive DRIVe versions for fairly cheap motoring in a stylish vehicle.