VOLVO’S NEW C30
By Reed Berry
Good things do come in small packages. I just never thought I would ever be
saying that about a Volvo. I suppose that the Mini Cooper and Volkswagen GTI
immediately come to mind when you think of cars that are small, sporty and fun
to drive. But take those desirable characteristics, throw in a hearty helping of
impressive safety features, and you have the new Volvo C30.
The C30 is a stylish little hatchback that will undoubtedly attract younger car
buyers to the Volvo brand. The edgy design features a frameless glass tailgate
reminiscent of the classic Volvo P1800ES of the early 70's. The smallest car in
the Volvo line, the C30 is 8.5 inches shorter than the Volvo S40 sport sedan
while retaining the 103.9-inch wheelbase.
As I look at a long line of shiny new C30s just waiting to be driven by eager
automotive journalists from around the country, the cars would appear, except
for different exterior colors, to be pretty much the same. They are not all
identical, however, because the C30 is offered in two models: Version 1.0 and
Both versions feature the same enthusiastic 227-horsepower 2.5-liter
turbocharged 5-cylinder engine and six-speed manual transmission. The main
difference between the two versions is a variety of added sport and
entertainment features on Version 2.0, including a premium sound system with
Sirius Satellite Radio, larger 18-inch alloy wheels, and a sport body kit with
front and rear valances, side skirts and a rear wing.
The interior of the C30 is stylish, functional and comfortable. Despite the
car's diminutive size, there is a generous amount of room for four full-sized
adults. The seats are ergonomically designed for comfort and support, and Volvo
has made accessing the rear seat almost effortless. Instead of a rear bench
seat, the C30 features bucket-style seats positioned toward the center of the
car, providing a good forward view and space for storage in the side panels.
The stereo system in the C30 rocks! While a premium sound system is available,
the C30's standard 160-watt stereo system sounds great. There is an input for
connecting an iPod and a CD changer that plays both MP3 and WMA media. Available
for the upgraded audio system is an iPod interface that allows you to connect an
iPod and manipulate it with the car's controls.
Today's drive takes me through the scenic Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in
eastern San Diego County, the largest state park in California. While I haven't
seen any roadrunners or iguanas as yet, I am experiencing a variety of road
surfaces and driving conditions that really allow me to put this car to the
test. From the confident acceleration to its agility in handling and cornering,
I am definitely impressed by the C30's performance.
The solid body and long wheelbase give the C30 a feeling of stability, and the
chassis, with MacPherson front wheel suspension and a multilink rear axle,
provides outstanding control and makes the car quite responsive. The leather
steering wheel and gearshift knob give the car a sporty look and feel. Hey, I'll
admit it – this car is fun to drive!
And when it comes to automotive safety, Volvo products always seem to stand out
from the rest. The C30 is certainly no exception, with Dynamic Stability
Traction Control and an anti-lock braking system with Electronic Brake Force
Distribution. To reduce collision intrusion into the passenger compartment,
varying grades of steel are used at both the front and rear of the vehicle.
While an impressive list of standard equipment on either version of the C30 is
probably enough to provide an enjoyable driving experience, there are a variety
of options one may choose from, including a power glass moon roof and leather
seating surfaces. Another option is a 5-speed Geartronic automatic transmission
but, on a car with sporty characteristics like the C30, I highly recommend the
standard six-speed manual transmission.
If you are feeling creative and really want to go crazy with added features, you
can take advantage of Volvo's “Custom Build” program to design your own C30.
Simply pay an additional $300 and you can pick from a long list of Custom Build
features, including bi-xenon headlights, rear park assist, wood décor inlays and
aluminum pedals. Each added feature costs extra, of course, but the $300 Custom
Build charge remains the same whether you add one feature or several.
This car is designed to appeal to a car buyer 28 to 38 years old. As someone
slightly outside the upper end of that range, I can honestly say that the new
Volvo C30 will appeal not only to a younger driver but to the young in spirit,
It's GTI meets Volvo P1800ES Sport Wagon – good things really do come in small
For more information on Volvo products:
Name of vehicle:
2008 Volvo C30
Version 1.0: $22,700
Version 2.0: $25,700
2.5 liter, DOHC, inline turbocharged 5-cylinder
227 hp @ 5,000 rpm
236 lb.-ft. @ 1,500-5,000 rpm
6-speed manual; Optional 5-speed “Geartronic” microprocessor-controlled
automatic with “Auto-stick” function
Power assisted variable speed, rack and pinion
Dynamic Sport Suspension
Front: MacPherson struts with coil-over springs, stabilizer bar
Rear: Multilink independent with coil springs, stabilizer bar
Wheels and tires:
Version 1.0: 17-inch alloy wheels
Version 2.0: 18-inch alloy wheels
Version 1.0: 205/50/17
Version 2.0: 215/45/18
4-channel Anti-lock Braking System with Electronic Brake Distribution and
Electronic Brake Assistance
Curb weight (lbs.):
Manual: 6.2 seconds
Automatic: 6.6 seconds