Less impressive is the chassis. It might be Ford Focus-based, but the C30 feels considerably less agile. The steering is far less responsive than a Focus’s, particularly just off straight-ahead, so although it is a stable motorway cruiser, the Volvo feels less keen to turn in than most of its rivals.
Still, it’s linear and accurate once you’ve applied some lock, and the weighting is hard to criticise.
On a demanding road with changing cambers and bumps, the body is kicked around and it takes a while to settle. Even on smooth roads the C30 is a curiously unengaging drive. But it does grip reasonably and if you ignore all the signals and take it by the scruff of the neck, it resists understeer convincingly and displays a level of agility you wouldn’t credit it with.
It can be punted down the road at a decent pace; it’s just a shame that doing so is not more enjoyable.
A sports chassis is optionally available, and standard on R-Design models, which incorporates a revised steering ratio for responses 10 percent quicker than standard, 30 percent stiffer springs and firmer dampers.
The result isn’t obvious unless compared side by side against a standard car, but most will tick the R-Design box for the sporty appearance.
The C30 is at its best at a cruise. Around town, the ride is relatively supple, but with an underlying solidity. It’s the same on the motorway, where wind noise is limited and the tremendously leggy gearing in the diesels means engine noise is virtually inaudible.