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 BobC on Saturday, August 30, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 84,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Cons: "Cabin ergonomics"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"First, I am no a Volvo fan; never have been; but, I am in love with this C30 and I have been ever since I saw one on the road for the first time. Had to have one. I've owned this car since new; it's a 6-speed and has 84k miles on it! Never a problem to be had. Cabin ergonomics leave something to be desired: cup holders in the console right behind the shift lever leave them useless (not a problem for me, I don't eat/drink in my car); console charger outlet is to the right of the shift lever and my sleeve gets caught on it while shifting! Don't know what's up with that useless space behind the HVAC controls on the console! If they had offered this model in AWD (and I can't imagine whey they didn't) I would keep it forever and a day. Next car will be AWD; and, unless they resurrect this model in AWD, it won't be a Volvo..."
10 people out of 22 found this review helpful
By HkyPLyr26 on Thursday, May 29, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 118,000overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"This car has a known issue with the Steering lock immobilizer. The ONLY way to fix is take to a dealer, which as we all know = $$$'s. It has left me stranded with this issue as well as other battery issues. The problem is that any issue even a minor one will cause the car not to start. Nearest dealer is one hour away. Looks GREAT though. Interior rocks!"
16 people out of 27 found this review helpful
By Mark on Thursday, May 15, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 66,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"I had problems from day one in what sounded like a leak causing excessive noise. The dealer looked at and tested the car and were not able to find the problem. I thought the way the mirrors were designed might of caused some of the noise. The transmission is very clunky and never came close to the Toyota Celica I previously owned. My last complaint is the steering wheel which has a layer of metal embedded in it. On hot days it would burn your hands and on cold days it would freeze your hands. This is the first Volvo I have owned and I don't think I will buy another. I was much happier with a ten year old Celica than I was with this car."
4 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By Jillian86 on Tuesday, April 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 61,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, appealing looks, handles very well"
Cons: "Expensive to own, fuel efficiency"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have had this car for 3 years and I love it! Very sporty and fast. Only drawback is fuel efficiency. It gets about 18 miles to the gallon and it takes premium fuel."
2 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By Tess on Friday, April 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 160,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I have been through the most brutal snow, wind, ice, rain. I have driven this car 160,000 miles with little complaints. I love it. I feel safe in it. It performs beautifully and is quick, fast, nimble and FUN."
3 people out of 5 found this review helpful
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)"
5 people out of 8 found this review helpful