By KBB.com Editors
Designed to cloud the distinction between station wagon and hatchback, the 2011 Volvo C30 combines the best of both. With the inspiration for its design drawn from both a safety concept car and the classic '70s-era Volvo 1800 ES fastback, there is plenty of heritage to satisfy even the most finicky Volvo enthusiast. Volvo, however, hopes to lure people who would otherwise purchase hatchbacks from Volkswagen and Honda. While the 2011 Volvo C30's premium-car status and price tag places it more in line with the Audi A3, the 2011 Volvo C30's stylish good looks easily trump the conservative A3. The styling advantage places the 2011 Volvo C30 more in league with the Mini Cooper and BMW 1 Series.
If you're looking for a stylish and seldom-seen premium two-door coupe, and you don't mind a hatchback design, the 2011 Volvo C30 makes an appealing choice.
If you're looking for a hatchback with sports-car-style handling, a roomy rear seat and the ability to comfortably carry four adults, the four-door Volkswagen GTI or Audi A3 would be better choices. Those who want a two-door coupe with the security of a trunk should consider the BMW 1 Series.
The 2011 Volvo C30 receives a new grille, hood and front fenders and headlamps. A slight reshuffling of the equipment packages adds new features to some, while removing others to the stand-alone options list.
Driving Impressions The personality of the base 2011 Volvo C30 T5 is shifted towards those who prefer a comfortable ride over a taut, sporty suspension. If, however, your idea of a weekend...well spent is one carving up deserted back roads, consider the C30 R-Design.
This modern-day reinterpretation of one of Volvo's most memorable models has a distinctive visual presence that sets it apart from the competition.
Responsive Turbocharged Engine
Its wide, flat torque curve makes the Volvo 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.
If the 2011 Volvo C30's interior looks familiar, it's because it is almost identical to that in the Volvo S40 and V50. With the same dash, seats and console, including the slim-line "floating" center stack, the Volvo C30's interior doesn't stand out in the same way the Mini Cooper or GTI do, but it is comfortable and Scandinavian chic. Aluminum accent trim covers the console, dash and doors, while seating is covered in either fabric-like T-Tek (for the base T5) or premium leather (for the R-Design). Front-seat occupants will enjoy acceptable headroom and legroom, but the rear bucket seats are not comfortable for average-sized adults. Both rear seats fold flat, increasing the Volvo C30's cargo-carrying ability. The Volvo C30's oddly shaped rear hatch opening inhibits loading large or bulky items.
The 2011 Volvo C30 derives its styling from both the 2001 Volvo Safety Concept Car and vintage Volvo P1800 ES fastback. This is blended with a front end very similar to Volvo's S40 and V50. The C30's profile is rakishly seductive. Its all-glass frameless hatch is unique, but some may find it a bit too revealing. A variety of colors and wheel choices, as well as optional body kits, make it easy to personalize the 2011 Volvo C30. Sadly, the attractive painted wheel arches and ground-effects kit that debuted with the original car are no longer offered. The base 2011 Volvo C30 T5 model rolls on 205/50 tires on 17-inch aluminum wheels, while the up-level R-Design steps up to 215/45 rubber on 18-inch alloy rims. The C30 R-Design also includes a body kit that features color-coordinated fender flares, side skirts and spoilers both front and rear.
In addition to identical engines and transmissions, the Volvo C30 T5 and C30 R-Design also share a fairly expansive set of features. These features are highlighted by a cabin pollen filter, tilt and telescoping steering column, keyless remote entry, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, anti-theft immobilizer system, Volvo's side-impact and whiplash protection systems and Electronic Brake Assist. A 160-watt/six-speaker AM/FM/HD/CD/MP3 audio package with auxiliary audio and USB/iPod input jacks is standard on both, as are steering wheel-mounted audio controls. The R-Design also gets fog lights, 18-inch wheels, color-coordinated ground effects, a sport-tuned chassis, and aluminum interior trim enhancements.
Highlighting the 2011 Volvo C30's options list are an automatic transmission, leather upholstery, dual xenon headlamps with Active Bending Light, Sirius Satellite Radio, and the Blind Spot Information System. The Climate Package adds heated seats, Rain Sensor wipers, electronic climate control and headlight washers. The Multimedia Package gains a 650-watt Dynaudio Surround Sound audio system and an HDD navigation system with Real-Time Traffic, remote and two map updates. Check off the Preferred Package and you'll get power front seats, a power sunroof and Volvo's Keyless Drive.
Both the C30 T5 and C30 R-Design are fitted with identical engines. Volvo's lightweight-aluminum 2.5-liter turbocharged in-line five-cylinder engine 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. The latter also incorporates a manual-style "auto-stick" function. The C30 can sprint from zero to 60 miles per hour in 6.2 seconds with the manual and needs only 6.6 seconds to hit that mark with the automatic.
2.5-liter in-line 5 turbo
227 horsepower @ 5000 rpm
236 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1500-5000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/30 (automatic), 21/29 (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