By KBB.com Editors
A compact front-drive two-door that interweaves unique Volvo styling cues with well-proven mechanicals from the S40 and V50 lines, the 2009 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 and a top-of-the-line T5 R-Design that includes suspension upgrades, more standard features and R-inspired body kit and trim. 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 2009 Volvo C30's approach to style, comfort and performance could make it a very appealing choice.
While some potential buyers may find the 2009 Volvo C30's sheetmetal a bit too avant-garde, those wanting a true wagon will likely have bigger problems with its lack of rear passenger doors, modest cargo capacity and diminutive hatch opening.
The C30 T5 Version 1.0 and 2.0 become the T5 and T5 R-Design, respectively. Bluetooth is made a stand-alone option, while minor enhancements are made to the C30's equipment packages and colors. A seat-belt-reminder warning is added to the rear seats.
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 theme. In T5 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 R-Design. 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 R-Design 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 and V50, including Volvo's slim-line "floating" center stack that holds controls and switchgear for the audio and air conditioning. Aluminum-accent R-style trim in the R-Design model adds visual character that raises it well above the standard gray-plastic of the T5, 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 and 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 model pairs 205/50 tires with 17-inch aluminum wheels, while the R-Design 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 and T5 R-Design 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 Electronic Brake Assistance. A 160-watt/six-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio package with auxiliary audio input jack is standard on both, with the R-Design tossing in a six-month subscription to SIRIUS Satellite Radio. The R-Design also gets cruise control, unique bodywork, chassis and interior trim enhancements.
Highlighting the C30's conventional options list are an automatic transmission, leather upholstery, power glass moonroof, an HDD-based navigation system with real-time traffic updates and the Climate Package (heated seats, Rain Sensor wipers and 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, Dynaudio 650-watt sound system, 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 T5 and T5 R-Design 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 the 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.
2.5-liter turbocharged in-line 5
227 horsepower @ 5000 rpm
236 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1500-5000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/28 (automatic), 19/28 (manual)
By mrc127 on Sunday, February 16, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 57,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive"
Cons: "mileage with a turbo is just barely ok"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"love the car but because it's a turbo, mileage is only about 25mph. I also love the warranty. it covers everything except tires. I bought the extended warranty and it's worth the money. I made a point of testing getting in and out of the back seat before I purchased it and had no problem but my friends seem to struggle each time (we're all late 50s)"
2 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By Mike on Saturday, January 25, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 47,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Quality, trouble free, super comfortable, fun!"
Cons: "Rear leg room"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"The Volvo C30 is understated and hard to find on the road. Design is eye-catching and mine is a bright red which draws many admiring comments! It is really zippy and responsive yet gets surprisingly good gas mileage. Seats are super comfortable and hatchback really convenient for gym bag and everyday essentials. Build quality is legendary which earns Volvos a great safety rating. It rides really silent on the road which allows enjoyment of the premium sound system which came custom extra with the car. What can I say - I am hooked on Volvo and the C30 is an all round great experience with zero issues experienced in the 5 years I have owned it."
By Ladyf1fan on Saturday, December 14, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 36,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Comfortable, stylish,"
Cons: "Small rear hatch opening"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I love this car, I am amazed at the mileage I get considering how heavy and solid it feels. I bought this after a collision in another car and was concerned about safety. It is a very comfortable quiet ride. My only caveat is the rear door opening is small with lip to get things over. The interior is very comfortable and stylish and roomy, well though out. The best is the warranty that includes wear and tear for five years! I added back up sensors which I think should be standard on every car. Because I relocated across country I have dealt with 3 different dealerships which I found to be excellent. Very professional and helpful."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
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 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."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By Steve 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."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful