What is it?
This is the road tax avoiding, planet friendly variant of the C30, Volvo’s stylish, compact, premium quality three-door hatch. In any form the C30 is something of a niche vehicle that’s tricky to pigeonhole alongside any obvious competitors, and has pricing to match its premium aspirations.
However, with a CO2 rating of just 99g/km from its 113bhp, 1.6-litre diesel engine, aided by assorted chassis and aerodynamic tweaks, and an official combined mpg figure of 74.3mpg, this DRIVe variant should at least be cheap to run.
What’s it like?
Never mind the Audi A1, Volvo has a case for arguing that it was a pioneer in the small but premium car segment with the C30. In the five years or so that it’s been around not a great deal has changed. It’s a fine looking car that drives well if without much in the way of driver involvement. The cabin is small but not too cramped and there’s just about room in the back for two adults, while the driving position is a little high for taller drivers. It’s also got a tiny boot and comes with a near incomprehensibly awkward to use roll-out luggage cover. And that’s about it.
What is different are this DRIVe model’s impressive green credentials. We recorded real-world figures approaching 60mpg on a short motorway run, and an impressive 50mpg on a 40-mile journey out from the centre of London. The trade off, of course, is that performance isn’t as enthusiastic as the more overtly sporting C30s. It’s by no means a slow car and makes a fine motorway cruiser, but it lacks both straight line and dynamic sparkle.
Should I buy one?
Taken at face value there’s a lot to like about the C30. It looks good and has a real premium feel to its cabin; compressing Volvo’s switchgear and dash layout into a confined space gives a more concentrated feeling of quality than many of Volvo’s larger cars can muster. Even the DRIVe spec car’s textile interior trim has a pleasingly plush feel to it.
However, take the C30 at its actual monetary value and it’s harder to make a convincing case. At just shy of £21,000 a similarly priced, more practical, better to drive Golf Bluemotion makes better sense, but if the C30’s looks and compact-premium USP have already caught your eye then perhaps that’s not what you want to hear.
Bear in mind too that the £20,720 asking price for the SE-spec car we drove is minus options and our specced-up test car came in at a somewhat staggering £25,275. Whichever way you look at it the C30 delivers on style, quality and frugality, but there are cheaper ways to spend less money on fuel.
Volvo C30 1.6D SE DRIVe
Price: £20,720; Price as tested: £25,275; 0-62mph: 11.3sec; Max speed: 121mph; Kerb weight: 1363kg; Economy: 74.3mpg (combined); CO2: 99g/km; Engine: 4 cyl, 1560cc, turbodiesel; Max power: 113bhp at 3600rpm; Max torque: 199lb ft at 1750-2500rpm; Gearbox: six-speed manual