KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 6/25/2012
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.
You'll Like This Car If...
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.
You May Not Like This Car If...
If you need to carry more than four people and their cargo, look to an Audi A3, Volkswagen GTI, Mazda3 5-door, or Honda Fit as alternative carry-all cuties.
What's New for 2012
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.
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.
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.
Notable Standard Equipment
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.
Notable Optional Equipment
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.
Under the Hood
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)
The 2012 Volvo C30 has a starting Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $25,825, including destination charges. A top-of-the-line C30 R-Design with the Platinum package and other options can bring the price above $36,000. The C30's base price undercuts the Audi A3 and Lexus CT 200h, and is more expensive than a Volkswagen GTI, Mazdaspeed3 and Mini Cooper Clubman. Be sure to check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for the Volvo C30. Down the road, the C30 is expected to have good resale value, comparable to an A3, but not as high as a VW GTI or Mini Cooper Clubman.