The Volvo C30 had been previewed in concept car form five years before the production model launched. The SCC concept was a statement of intent that Volvo was trying to widen its appeal, and if anything the production version was even more radical – while the SCC made concessions to practicality with a pair of rear doors, the production C30 is offered as a three-door only.
The one-piece glass tailgate appeared as though it was lifted straight from the design plans from the 1971 1800ES shooting brake, and the huge teardrop-shaped rear lights remain some of the boldest fitted to any car. Volvo’s claim that the C30 is a coupé has the most validity when the car is viewed in profile, where a pronounced shoulder line gives it a sleek, squat appearance.
R-Design models carry bespoke bumpers, side skirts, wheelarch mouldings and tailpipes, and look great, but even without this sporty addenda, the C30’s looks put it in a different league from the likes of the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf. Only the Vauxhall Astra GTC and Renault Mégane Coupé come close.
If the C30’s exterior design is the stuff of concepts, its mechanicals are more mundane. Under the skin, the C30 is effectively a reclothed S40 saloon with 22cm removed from its length.
Despite looking vaguely similar to the S40 at the front, all of the C30’s metalwork is unique. It has the same 2640mm wheelbase as the S40 – the two cars plus the V50 estate roll from a production line in Ghent and share their platform with the Mk2 Ford Focus.