KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 3/25/2011
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.
You'll Like This Car If...
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.
You May Not Like This Car If...
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.
What's Significant About This Car?
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.
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.
With a 30-percent stiffer suspension, lower ride height and upgraded wheel and tire package, the R-Design delivers quicker steering response and less body roll during aggressive cornering. Both C30 trims are powered by a turbocharged five-cylinder engine that gives them the same spirited acceleration. Even with its stiffer suspension, the C30 R-Design returns a more civilized ride than rivals such as the Mini Cooper and BMW 1 Series. However, with respect to absolute sportiness, the C30 falls behind both the Mini and BMW, as well as the GTI and A3.
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.
Notable Standard Equipment
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.
Notable Optional Equipment
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.
Under the Hood
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)
The 2011 Volvo C30's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) ranges from around $25,500 for a base 2011 Volvo C30 T5 to about $28,000 for the R-Design. Opting for an automatic transmission will bump those figures by another $1,250. Big-ticket options such as leather upholstery, a navigation system and a power moonroof can easily push either variant beyond the $35,000 mark. Before you set off to purchase, check the Fair Purchase Price on kbb.com and see what others in your area are paying. In general, the C30 R-Design is expected to fare slightly better when it comes to holding value over time than the base C30 T5; but neither comes close to the projected residual percentages for a Mini Cooper. The C30 projected values also trail those of the Scion tC, BMW 1 Series, Volkswagen GTI, and the Audi A3.