Sharing the spotlight in Frankfurt with its C70 stablemate, a facelifted and functionally enhanced Volvo C30 is taking its game up a notch on all fronts. For openers, the standard model of this three-door hatch gets a comprehensive front-end restyle that brings new sheetmetal, lighting and fascia treatments that reflect visual cues seen in the S60 Concept and the C70, elements that the firm's Exterior Chief Designer, Fedde Talsma, says "reinforce the impression of speed ad sportiness." Completing the look is a reshaped grille with a unique honeycomb insert, larger air intakes, and a bolder center badge in the Volvo ironmark. The rear quarters, while largely unchanged, do boast a modestly re-contoured fascia and a new lower valence panel offered in color-matched or contrasting finish.
For those who favor a fuller measure of handling prowess in their C30, Volvo has also come up with a suitably enhanced R-Design sport package that also brings its own more aggressive visual trim/badging, a subtle rear spoiler and 17-inch (or optional 18-inch) alloy wheels as well as a host of bespoke interior embellishments. But the most meaningful changes here lie in what you can't see. Using dynamic metrics pioneered on the 2009 S80 sedan, the C30's underpinnings received a comprehensive remake that goes well beyond the existing R-Design spec to make it even more capable and more predictable when pressed to its limits. Key changes include improved steering feel with 10-percent quicker response, 30-percent stiffer spring rates, more aggressively valved mono-tube gas-pressure shock absorbers and larger anti-roll bars. Volvo hopes these enthusiast-grade enhancements will increase the take rate on the C30 R-Design package above its already impressive 35-percent level and significantly burnish the car's street cred with younger buyers.
The new C30 will go on sale here in early 2010 as a 2011 model. As with the current model, all of the new C30's will be T5 configurations, fitted with an 2.5-liter/227-horsepower turbocharged inline five-cylinder engine matched with a six-speed manual gearbox or optional five-speed autoshifter.