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VOLVO C30 Review

OUR TEST CAR: VOLVO C30 2.0

 
VOLVO C30  - Page - 1
Approximately 83 years ago, the first Volvo was rolled off the assembly lines, giving birth to a whole new brand that could be now considered a synonym to safety. Although history has proven us that this isn't the case, there are people that still believe Volvo makes the safest cars in the world, mostly thanks to its famous innovations that surely changed the automotive world. In such conditions, building a "unconventional" Volvo that would impress with some other things beside its safety goodies was a real challenge, even for such a large automaker.

So, here it is, the 2011 Volvo C30, the facelifted version of the 2006 model that made its debut at the 2006 Paris Motor Show. Shown to the public at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, the new C30 brought a number of improvements at both the exterior and the interior, but engines and transmissions configurations remained the same as on the predecessor.

In short terms, the Swedish group planned to use the C30 to tackle the young market, relying on classic elements of other Volvo cars but adding new features that would better suit "young, modern city dwellers with an active lifestyle," as the company explained.

A true challenger for the compact car premium segment (Volvo's very own words), Volvo C30 performed somewhat acceptable in a crisis-hit market. The Swedish manufacturer delivered a total of 39,966 units in 2008, while in 2009 sales decreased to 32,409 units, a 18.9 percent drop as compared to the previous year.

Curiously, Volvo tried to use on the C30 range about the same market strategy used by other young-oriented carmakers: the power of customization. Basically, car companies that plan to tackle the young segment usually develop a wide array of accessories, most of them meant to enhance the exterior styling. Not in its nature to offer things like that, Volvo says the C30 can be configured "in an almost unlimited range of variants thanks to a wide selection of drivelines, design details and equipment levels."

We drove the Volvo C30 FL 2.0 Momentum, a sporty configuration that features a 2.0-liter engine generating 145 horsepower and mated to a five-speed transmission. Its price goes up to 25,000+ Euros, including the optional features we had on the car, so keep reading to find out if it's really worth the money.

From the exterior styling point of view, the car is a clear hate it or love it. Often considered a hatchback version of the S40, V50 and C70 series, the C30 is based on the Volvo SCC prototype that was unveiled in 2001 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan. The 2011 version brought a number of changes at both the interior and the exterior, but the overall appearance continues to remain the same.

However, the upgraded range came with a reworked front end and new headlights, grille, and front body panels, while the rest of the car received either minor changes or no enhancements at all. There was a new color added to the range, Orange Flame Metallic, plus a bunch of new interior accessories.

Volvo C30 isn't a head turner but the rear side of the car might catch your attention in a second. And not because it's a design masterpiece, but because you wouldn't expect to see such a thing on a Volvo. The unconventional rear is dominated by the large rear window which provides great visibility, especially if taking into account that our car wasn't fitted with parking sensors or other gadgets supposed to help us back into a parking spot.

For those of you interested in the striking Orange Flame Metallic, which by the way is available as a 700 Euro option, we must mention that depending on the lighting conditions, it gets a bit of a red hue that could be different from the original color perceived by the naked eye.

As for sportiness, it is further enhanced through the addition of several elements, including a rear spoiler and 17-inch white alloy wheels, both available as an option for 300 and 500 Euros, respectively. The black inferior body kit is available as standard on the C30 Momentum equipment level.

Volvo C30's interior continues to be simplistic, with the design inspired from S40 and V50. The whole interior is built around the center floating console which plays three key roles. First of all, from the aesthetic point of view, the thin console is quite appealing, contributing to the overall simplicity of the whole interior.

Second of all, its architecture leaves enough room for other interior parts, such as the storage space hidden just behind it. Last but not least, it brings the controls closer to the driver and/or right passenger, thus contributing to enhanced ergonomics and comfort.

And speaking of storage spaces inside the car, we noticed that Volvo's engineers failed to take care of this aspect when building the C30. First of all, there are two cup holders just adjacent to the handbrake lever, one of which is occupied by the ashtray. However, it's almost impossible to use the empty storage space for a bottle for instance, mostly because it blocks the access to the gear shift.

There is an alternative though, as the C30 provides two storage spaces especially designed for larger recipients on the two front doors. Still, unless you force it in, a bottle of Coke for instance is too big to be fitted in there.

There are several positive things however, including the sporty seats covered in the so-called Leksand Offblack/Sunburt Orange upholstery. Comfy enough and providing lumbar support for both the driver and the front passenger, the two front seats must be slid forward to allow the rear passengers to get inside the car. But the whole process is a challenge.

Not only because the rear passengers' access inside the car is done through a very limited amount of space, but also because sliding the front seats means resetting their settings - if they can be called so given the fact that they sit on a metallic rail.

The leather-covered steering wheel holds the cruise control and volume buttons and can be adjusted for the optimal height, thus allowing taller persons to get behind the wheel without too many problems. The power windows controls, as well as the exterior mirror and locking buttons are all placed on the left front door, while the headlight controls are mounted on the left side of the dashboard, and not on a separate lever behind the wheel.

Driving a Volvo should be a pleasant activity, regardless of the location you choose to do it. The C30 however has several pros and cons at this chapter. But first things first.

The tested model was equipped with a 2.0-liter generating 145 horsepower and mated to a 5-speed manual transmission, which is not exactly the best solution for this engine.

The car lacks the necessary technologies to increase fuel efficiency and cut emissions, so the 2.0-liter unit isn't the best setup for city cruising. We hadn't expected to reach Volvo's official figures in terms of fuel consumption (23 mpg/10.2 L/100Km), but the ratings we got were surprisingly off. For example, after a trip of about 12 kilometers from home to the office during, the on-board computer indicated 15.8 l/100km (14.8 mpg)!

Volvo C30 is a four-seater, which means it could carry two passengers on the two front seats, and other two on the rear. However, traveling as a rear passenger is almost impossible if you're a grown man, as the amount of space is incredibly limited. This perfectly matches Volvo's very own idea: the Swedish company's representatives explained that the C30 is likely to be sold to young couples who tend to use the rear seats on rare occasions.

Squeezing into an empty parking spot with a Volvo C30 should be extremely easy, even if the car is not equipped with parking sensors or other parking assistance technologies. During our test, we noticed that the rear window provides perfect visibility when in reverse mode so only minimum skills are actually required to park the car safely.

We're not exactly sure, but by looking at C30's trunk, we would be tempted to say that Volvo thinks young people do not go shopping. The volume is extremely limited - 233 liters - which makes it almost impossible to leave on a longer journey or simply go for a longer shopping session, unless you fold the rear seats.

The handling system is more than decent, while the suspension setup is just average. In just a few words, all those speed bumps and potholes you usually see in today's cities are almost unnoticeable when running over them with the front side of the car. The rear on the other hand is a bit different, mostly due to its reduced weight, so the car feels a bit bouncy when driving on an uneven road.

Young drivers, who enjoy going on longer journeys, would be disappointed by the attention the Volvo engineers paid to this particular area.

The 2.0-liter engine is indeed useful in non-urban conditions but, once again, the fuel consumption get close to the "unacceptable" barrier. Volvo says that its C30 should go around 40.5 mpg (5.8 L/100Km) in highway conditions but reality is very different from Volvo's paradise. After a 20 kilometer trip on the highway at 130 km/h, cruise control enabled, the on-board computer pointed to a unpleasantly-surprising 8.7 l/100km (27 mpg). Obviously, a sportier driving style would increase these figures a lot, with the car being limited to a maximum speed of 130 mph (209 km/h).

The gearbox on the other hand seems to be totally incompatible with the engine. The 5-speed unit, which indeed decreases acceleration times, doesn't help fuel economy at all and keeps the rev counter on the red line, in case you're the kind of sporty driver we were talking about.

Once again, the comfort is above average for the two front passengers, but the two rear individual seats provide enough room only for kids or other child occupants below 1.70m. The limited rear space and the reduced cargo volume proves that Volvo didn't manage to reach a compromise between the two and choose which one would get improved. Unfortunately, this aspect plays a key role in such a crowded market and the only solution for a C30 owner to fit more luggage is to fold the rear seats, thus limiting the number of passengers to only two.

Nevertheless, taking into account that C30 is a car aimed at the young sector, the open road section is a bit less important, as the public it is addressed to would mostly use it in an urban environment.
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autoevolution May 2010
60
History
6
Exterior
6
Interior
6
In the city
6
Open road
6
Comfort
5
Tech facts
5
Gadgets
6
Safety
8
Conclusion
6
58user rating 35 votes
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