By KBB.com Editors
A compact front-drive two-door that interweaves unique Volvo styling cues with well-proven mechanicals from the S40/V50 lines, the new C30 is designed to blur the established line between a conventional hatchback and a station wagon. It's also the first Volvo sold here to offer buyers enhanced personalization potential through the factory's Custom Build individualization program. Volvo's most affordable entry is available in two trim levels: The well-appointed T5 1.0 and a top-of-the-line T5 2.0 that includes suspension upgrades, more standard features and a body kit. Although the C30's closest direct competitors are the Mini Cooper and Volkswagen GTI, devotees of trendy personal transport modules might consider this high-profile newcomer as a suitable alternative for vehicles as diverse as the Audi A3, BMW 1 Series, Saab 9-3 SportCombi or Scion tC.
If you're willing to trade off a bit of conventional station wagon utility for a look that will definitely turn heads, the new 2008 Volvo C30's approach to style, comfort and performance could make it a very appealing alternative.
While some potential buyers may find the 2008 Volvo C30's sheetmetal a bit too avant-garde, true wagon fanatics will likely have bigger problems with its lack of rear passenger doors, modest cargo capacity and diminutive hatch opening.
The new C30 line combines style, practicality and affordability in a distinctive and user-friendly package that Volvo hopes will help boost its corporate profile while attracting younger buyers to the brand.
Driving Impressions A turbocharged five-cylinder engine endows both C30 variants with the same spirited acceleration, while Volvo's driver-selectable Dynamic Traction and Stability Control system and anti-lock disc brakes enhance their fundamentally solid...handling and stopping capabilities. Beyond those basics, each embodies a slightly different variation on the transport theme. In 1.0 guise, the C30's personality is skewed towards buyers who put a higher priority on ride comfort than on precision responsiveness. If you're more inclined to spend time carving up corners than negotiating urban stop-and-go or long-distance freeway cruising, consider the T5 2.0. Its slightly tauter suspension settings, lower ride height and upgraded wheel and tire package help quicken the C30's steering response, trim body roll during hard cornering and mildly reduce braking distances. Even at the 2.0 level, the C30 retains an edge in overall ride compliance compared to the Mini Cooper and VW GTI. However, it does still fall a little short of those two with respect to absolute sportiness.
This modern-day reinterpretation of one of Volvo's most memorable sportwagon models has a distinctive visual presence that sets it apart from the competition but still maintains legitimate four-passenger practicality.
Responsive Turbocharged Engine
Its wide, flat torque curve makes the C30's potent turbocharged five-cylinder engine a perfect match for this petite hauler, injecting a major dose of pure driving delight whether paired with the standard manual or optional automatic transmission.
The C30 borrows major cabin design elements from the S40/V50, including Volvo's slim-line "floating" center stack that holds controls and switchgear for the audio and air conditioning. Aluminum accent trim in the 2.0 model adds visual character that raises it well above the standard gray-plastic of the 1.0, but both versions are fitted with comfortable and supportive manually-adjustable bucket seats covered in Volvo's fabric-like T-Tek material. The C30's rear quarters feature dual seats with enough head and leg room to accommodate two average-sized adults. Although folding the seatbacks increases cargo capacity from 12.9 to 20.2 cubic feet, the C30's smallish and oddly-shaped glass hatch does negatively impact the loading and unloading process.Exterior
The C30's distinctive appearance reflects a neo-classic look that matches front-end cues based on Volvo's current S40/V50 models with the flowing tapered roof and prominent taillight treatment seen on the firm's 2001 Safety Concept Car (SCC). While the C30's two-door configuration and rakishly angled all-glass rear hatch also figured in the SCC's design brief, both elements first appeared on the P1800ES sportwagon, a '70s-era Volvo that still enjoys cult-car status. The C30 T5 1.0 model pairs 205/50 tires with 17-inch aluminum wheels, while the 2.0 steps up to 215/45 rubber on larger 18-inch alloy rims and adds a body kit with color-coordinated fender flares, side skirts and front and rear spoilers.
Beyond identical powertrains, the T5 1.0 and 2.0 also share a fairly expansive set of features, highlighted by a full array of power assists, air conditioning with cabin pollen filter, tilt and telescoping steering column, a driver information system, keyless remote entry, anti-theft immobilizer system, front, front-side and side-curtain airbags, Volvo's side-impact and whiplash protection systems and anti-lock disc brakes with Brake Assist. The 1.0's 160-watt/six-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio package is replaced in the 2.0 by a 650-watt/10-speaker setup that includes a six-month subscription to SIRIUS Satellite Radio. Both audio systems feature an auxiliary input jack. The 2.0 also gets unique bodywork, chassis and interior trim enhancements.
Highlighting the C30's conventional options list are an automatic transmission, leather upholstery, power glass moonroof, a DVD-based navigation system (2.0 only) and several lesser items, plus the Climate Package (heated seats, Rainsensor wipers, headlight washers). Stepping up to the Custom Build program -- which requires a one-time $300 premium -- grants access to a much longer list of upgrades, including special interior and exterior color treatments, dual-zone automatic climate control, a trip computer, cruise control, bi-xenon headlights, keyless start, rear park assist and dual power front seats. Several of the more easily installed Custom Build items, such as wheel and tire upgrades and cargo covers, are also available as dealer accessories.
Both the 1.0 and 2.0 versions of the front-drive C30 T5 are fitted with identical powertrain elements. The lightweight-aluminum 2.5-liter turbocharged inline five-cylinder engine develops 227 horsepower at 5000 rpm and is fitted with variable valve timing that helps it make and maintain a constant 236 pound-feet of torque from 1500 to 5000 rpm. That expansive torque plateau ensures superb responsiveness, whether you back it with the base six-speed manual transmission or optional five-speed Geartronic automatic that also incorporates a manual-style "auto-stick" function. The C30 can sprint from zero to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds with the manual, and needs only 6.6 seconds to hit that mark with the automatic, even when left to shift for itself. Although opting for the automatic trims EPA highway ratings from 28 to 27 mpg, all C30s have a 19-mpg city rating regardless of transmission.
2.5-liter turbocharged in-line 5
227 horsepower @ 5000 rpm
236 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1500-5000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/27 (automatic), 19/28 (manual)
By Joe on Thursday, October 10, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 40,500overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun driving and spunky, handy for hauling stuff"
Cons: "interior is sparse, wheels are awful to clean"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"I drive hard and this car handles great. The seating material drivers side cracked in 2 years but Volvo replaced it under warranty. Lots of complements on styling. I just wish that the wheels, Sparticus type, didn't pit so badly due to brake dusting. I'd buy again but it doesn't look like they will be available."
By Jim (NM) on Sunday, August 18, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 12,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"Higher than normal road noise. Automatic temp works poorly - drops too low a fan speed to maintain temp. but manual is fine. Had 3 minor warrantee claims. Handles great. Lots of power although turbo takes a moment to kick in. R Type trim below bumpers hit curbs. Very nice auto trans. Shifts unnoticeably. Computer reminded me of need for first oil change 4,000 miles beyond when due. Interior is nice. Nice seats and very comfortable. Access to rear a bit tight but comfortable when you get there. Get a cargo net or be pelted if you stop suddenly. Neat car with many positives and a few puzzles."
By Steve (TX) on Thursday, August 15, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 36,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Style, handling, performance"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Purchased a 2011 through the Overseas Delivery Program. Picked it up in Gottenberg, Sweden took the ferry to Germany and drove it from Kiel to Munich in one day at speeds up to 125mph. The car drives better the faster you drive it. I absolutely love this car. It's the embodiment of refined sports handling. I did the Polestar upgrade over a year ago and that made it even better. It improved the performance and I got a 1.5 mpg increase. I would love to buy another especially if I could do the overseas delivery again. It's the best kept secret in the entire car industry."
By Stanny (NJ) on Thursday, March 28, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 7,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I really enjoy my car. I have the 2012 c30 premier plus. No r design, no polestar upgrade. Convenience/utility -- It is a 2 person car. The 2 seats in the back are comfy but a real pain to get to. Also you will not be picking up 3 people with tons of luggage in this car. For occasional use the back seats are ok, but nothing more. Performance -- very zippy little car. Handles well, accelerates well. It does not compete with $40-50k sports cars, but it is not meant to compete with them. It beats out every 200hp and less engine that I've tried. More fun than bmw 328i, because its just so much fun to throw the little c30 around. If I could get this car with volvos t6 engine and all wheel drive, I would in a heartbeat. But for front wheel drive, the engine is as powerful as you want. Interior/ Comfort -- I have cloth seats, but I got power heated seats and moonroof. The seats are incredibly comfortable, and I've done a few 6-7 hour trips. The interior can feel depressing because it is so non -luxurious. Very utilitarian, especially compared to a decked out bmw 3 or mercedes c. Then again, the c30 is the cheapest volvo. I will never choose cloth seats again. Value/reliability -- great value. 5 year free maintenance except tires, that is really awesome. Reliability hopefully will be good (no issues after 7500 miles). Driving in the northeast winter no problem, probably because the tires this comes with are so awesome (Also I think the dstc helps). Overall -- I would buy again. My criteria was, a new car for $30k or less. Something fun, safe and worry free. This car fits the bill perfectly. 5 years of warranty, by then I'll know if the car is prone to issues. I drive carefully, you can have fun without taking the engine to the redline RPM. If I had $50k I would not buy this car. For $30k new, I can't think of a more fun car (and I drove a bunch of them)."
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Siebenburgen (OH) on Thursday, January 31, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 25,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive, unique design, built like a tank"
Cons: "outdated center stack with tiny screen"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I own a 2012 Volvo C30. I drove it 25,000 miles in one year of ownership and I am very satisfied with it. It is a very unique car (only saw a couple other C30s on the road in an entire year). If you would like to buy one I would not waste any more time because production stopped in December 2012, so once the current dealer stock of new 2013 C30s is gone, it's gone for good. Ergonomics are outstanding, it has four bucket seats (the back seats are similar to the ones in front). The five cylinder turbo engine is very nice and plenty powerful for me, and the six speed manual transmission is very smooth. Visibility is great due to the huge hatch which is entirely made of glass. I also have the optional BLIS system which constantly monitors blind spots. If you are looking for a center stack with a big color touch screen this isn't the car for you. The display is monochromatic and it automatically switches from black on white during daytime to white on black at night. It is very simple and provides all the necessary information but it is quite spartan. The heated seats work very well, the stereo sounds very good and it has separate equalizers for front and back speakers (not only bass and treble, but an actual equalizer that you can adjust to your liking). My experience with my local Volvo dealer has been outstanding and I will most likely buy another Volvo when it's time for a new car. This is a very unique car and I am quite happy to be driving something that stands out from the millions of Hondas and Toyotas around me."
7 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By Wolfie (TN) on Sunday, May 20, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Stylish, unique, quick and responsive"
Cons: "1990's Technology, doors are heavy and long"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Purchased the C30 R - Series in February 2012 from NASHVILLE Volvo. Had a great experience with the dealer. Driving this vehicle is like no experience I have had behind the wheel of a 5 cylinder turbo engine. It handles like a go-cart and has the power when you need it. The R-design interior is very stylish and fits my 6 foot frame to perfection. It really is a two seater and has some draw backs like the doors are very heavy and cumbersome until you get adjusted to a two door, also the display is pretty antiquated for 2012 compared to some of the competitors in this space. I am a cyclist and purchased the bike and wheel holder with the roof rack system from Volvo and I love it, its functional and very stylish. I have driven BMWs for more than 15 years and love the euro driving experience, if you want something a little different and not something everyone has this is a fine choice for the money. I also received a 5 year 60,000 full warranty from the dealer, which was a selling feature for me. Take a test drive!!!"
12 people out of 13 found this review helpful