By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.1
Blurring the lines between station wagon and hatchback, the 2012 Volvo C30 is a compact, premium 3-door vehicle that looks unlike almost anything else on the road. The C30 also straddles the line of an upscale compact carryall, as it's pricier than a Mini Cooper but cheaper than an Audi A3. Even its engine is a breed apart, being a turbocharged 5-cylinder that aims for – and achieves – fuel economy almost as good as a 4-cylinder and power levels approaching those of a V6. With only four seats instead of the usual five, the C30 continues to define its niche role. Thankfully, the C30's differences add up instead of detract, making it a stylish, fun-to-drive car that truly stands out.
If you want a stylish, solid and quick compact hatch with a premium feel that stands apart from just about everything else on the road, the C30 is an appealing option.
For 2012, Volvo has expanded the trim levels of the C30, adding Premier Plus and Platinum to both regular and sportier R-Design variants of the car. The trim levels are bundled with extra features and options, such as navigation, a premium sound system and a moonroof. The R-Design does not increase horsepower, but instead differentiates itself with a sport-tuned chassis and unique design elements (a Polestar performance package is an option for buyers who want extra power). 2012 also brings audio streaming to the C30's standard Bluetooth interface.
Driving Impressions The 2012 Volvo C30 is quick, but not blazing-fast. Still, with a stated 0-60 mph time of about six-and-a-half seconds, the C30 has absolutely no problem getting up to speed...on the freeway. What the C30 really has going for it is a solid, planted, and ultimately safe feel that belies its small size. In regular form, the front-wheel-drive C30 offers a more comfortable experience, while R-Design models have a suspension that's a bit tighter for better cornering. Both models have an appreciably quiet cabin. The seating position is comfortable, but the seatbelts can have the tendency to creep up. Sightlines, meanwhile, are among the best we've encountered.
EXCEPTIONAL OUTWARD VISIBILITY
The C30's rear window looks great from the outside, and it's even better from within. Thanks to that long panel of glass flowing down the hatch, this Volvo provides astounding rearward visibility.
By using a turbocharged 5-cylinder engine, the C30 offers a good balance between the fuel economy of a 4-cylinder and the power of a larger 6-cylinder. That its turbocharger produces little to no lag is another plus.
If you've sat down in a Volvo from recent years, the C30's cabin will be instantly familiar. As sleek and angular as anything from an IKEA store, the C30's interior is functional yet stylish, right down to the minimalistic remote control for the sound system. Why one needs such a device for the already-close and easy-to-use audio buttons and knobs is another matter. Two-tone leather seating is available, which helps give the Volvo a premium look. R-Design models get extra treatments like aluminum inlays and logos on the seats and steering wheel. In back are two – but only two – sculpted seats that are roomy enough for adults. Behind the front seats is 12.9 cubic feet of storage, enough for several bags of groceries. With the rear seats folded nearly flat, that cargo room expands to over 20 cubic feet.Exterior
A squat profile, deep curves, and angular front and beautifully contoured rear make the Volvo C30 a car that looks truly unique. Twin tailpipes emerge from the rear, yet they are not the defining feature back there. No, that's the C30's lovely panel of glass. Stretching halfway down the car, it immediately separates this car from other hatchbacks. The window allows exceptional visibility outward, but also lets onlookers peer in, so owners would do well to keep valuables covered in the cargo bay. R-Design models get aesthetic upgrades such as a spoiler, larger exhaust tips, and a smattering of logos. Regular models ride on 17-inch wheels, while R-Design editions roll on 18-inch versions.
2012 Volvo C30 models come with a 6-speed manual transmission, cruise control and a 160-watt/6-speaker audio system with AM/FM/HD Radio, CD player and auxiliary/iPod/USB inputs. Also standard are steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, Bluetooth wireless connectivity with audio streaming, and a pollen filter. 2012 Volvos are backed by a 5-year/50,000-mile basic warranty and complimentary maintenance for three years/36,000 miles.
The Premier Plus package on the 2012 Volvo C30 adds features such as a power sunroof, power driver and passenger seat, and LED running lights. The top-line Platinum package yields a 10-speaker/650-watt premium sound system and navigation system with real-time traffic. Additional options include a 5-speed automatic transmission, climate package, blind-spot monitoring system, and Polestar Performance Package.
Volvo C30s are powered by a turbocharged 5-cylinder engine that make 227 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque across a wide rpm range. In real-world driving, this means the car's power is available when you need it and is more than enough to quickly move this front-wheel-drive hatchback. The standard transmission is a good-feeling 6-speed manual, while a smooth-shifting 5-speed automatic is optional. Unlike many cars with turbocharged engines, this one can run on regular gasoline. For drivers who want more power, the $1,295 Polestar Performance Package retunes the engine to make it good for 250 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. Volvo says the performance upgrade will not affect fuel economy, emissions, or the car's warranty. Like other Volvos, the C30 is rated to tow a surprising amount of weight – in this case up to 2,000 pounds.
2.5-liter turbocharged inline-5
227 horsepower @ 5,000 rpm
236 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/30 mpg (automatic), 21/29 mpg (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