Volvo will take the wraps off its cleanest new car ever at Frankfurt in September. The new C30 Efficiency is a version of the standard 1.6-litre turbodiesel C30 small hatchback tweaked to deliver better fuel economy and lower emissions of carbon dioxide. Putting in an impressive 62.8mpg on the combined cycle, it’ll go 60 miles further between fills than a standard C30 1.6D, and will also qualify for VED band B, which means it’ll be cheaper to tax, and exempt from London’s Congestion Charge as of next February.
How they’ve made this Swede greener
Volvo has saved all that fuel and carbon by focussing on four areas in the C30 – aerodynamics, rolling resistance, gearing and engine efficiency.In the first respect, you’ll see from the pictures that the C30 Efficiency has a new roof spoiler, a new rear bumper and a blanked-off front grille. It’s also fitted with special 16in wheels and underbody panels that the standard car doesn’t get, and it rides a few centimetres lower; all changes designed to smooth the passage of air around, over and underneath the car, and thereby reduce its drag coefficient.Around each of those new 16in wheels are special compound low friction tyres, which themselves reduce rolling resistance. The car’s five-speed manual gearbox has also been revised; third, fourth and fifth gears are taller, for better cruising economy. And elsewhere within the car’s powertrain, Volvo has employed low-friction transmission oil, more efficient power steering and a more parsimonious engine management system to maximise the car’s environmental credentials. The net result is that the car’s power is reduced by only 4bhp, to 104bhp – a small price to pay, you may think, for the right to brag that you’re doing your bit for the climate.
Refinements for Volvo’s other babes
At the same time as Volvo introduces this car, it will also be adding a new DSG-style twin clutch automatic gearbox to its C30, S40 and V50 ranges that will make all of them that little bit greener.The new gearbox has been in development at PAG for a while now, and will also see service on Land Rover’s new Freelander. It’s called Powershift, and will be applied at first exclusively on 2.0-litre diesel models. The new system changes gear more quickly than a standard torque-converter automatic, and for that reason, uses 8 per cent less fuel.
Is ‘Efficiency’ Volvo’s answer to ‘Bluemotion’?
It could be. Volvo R&D boss Magnus Jonsson told Autocar that the company is “firmly committed to lowering the fuel consumption of its conventional petrol and diesel engines, and continuously reducing the overall CO2 emission level for its whole model range.” So will we see S40, V50, XC60 and V70 Efficiency models selling alongside the new climate-friendly C30? Don’t rule it out; with its history of adopting LPG and bioethanol technology, the brand’s got precedent when it comes to models that are a little lighter on the environment. However, with a hybrid model in the pipeline too, Volvo will need to be careful that it doesn’t give its customers too many green options to chose from.