The C30’s odd blend of 'funky' and ‘dull’ is well suited to an eco model

What is it?

This is the Volvo C30 DRIVe. Although Volvo has been doing green models (such as biofuels) for years, it’s been slow to give them a catchy label like Volkswagen’s BlueMotion and Ford’s Econetic ranges. Volvo’s take on this eco-tech is called DRIVe, and the first model to benefit is the C30.

The Volvo C30 DRIVe is one of three cars to wear the DRIVe label, but has undergone a more in-depth makeover than its V50 and S40 siblings. Most DRIVe changes are visual, but several important alterations lie under the skin.

The four-cylinder turbodiesel engine’s ECU, also used by the Ford Econetic range, has been tweaked to optimise CO2 output and now produces 4g/km less than the standard unit.

The new roof spoiler, rear diffuser and distinctive alloy wheels help reduce airflow over the body, decreasing drag. Low rolling resistance tyres trim CO2 by a further 2.5g/km, as do the heightened gear ratios in 3rd, 4th and 5th gear. Even the gearbox oil has been replaced to gain a further 0.5g/km saving.

The Volvo C30 DRIVe’s grille has been partially covered and its underbody panelling flattened to aid air flow, reducing drag and contributing to the combined 14g/km fall in CO2 to just 115g/km, placing the C30 DRIVe in VED band B.

What is it like?

Despite the numerous changes, the Volvo C30 DRIVe remains capable of showing a decent turn of pace. The 0-60mph time has even been improved over the standard 1.6-litre Volvo C30, and now stands at 10.7 seconds thanks to shorter 1st and 2nd gears.

The other, longer, ratios don’t hamper town driving either and, even in the absence of a sixth gear, the C30 is happy at a steady 70mph motorway cruise, resting comfortably at 2100rpm. A modest 10mm reduction in ride height to aid air flow also results in no discernable changes to the C30 DRIVe’s composed ride.

Should I buy one?

Even with the numerous changes the DRIVe package brings, the Volvo C30 remains a comfortable and capable car to drive. Some aspects of the styling, particularly the alloys, may deter buyers, but the fact that these changes come at little additional cost to the customer should make the DRIVe range a popular choice.

Volvo will no longer offer a 1.6-litre model that hasn’t undergone the DRIVe treatment, but with DRIVe increasing prices by just a few hundred pounds, few will complain. DRIVe should prove a worthy competitor for the more established eco sub-brands.

George Barrow

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touchwood 29 December 2008

Re: Volvo C30 1.6D DRIVe SE

RobotBoogie wrote:
I think the alloys are funky!


aceman 27 December 2008

Re: Volvo C30 1.6D DRIVe SE

Volvo have been a sutiable family car for some time now, and they still are, but this one doesn't do it for me.

It's like they have tried to make a sporty looking car but it's gone very wrong. I don't even think it's much of a family one either. It's disappointing from Volvo.

Quattro369 19 December 2008

Re: Volvo C30 1.6D DRIVe SE

DelgadosKnee wrote:
Bizarrely, I'm seeing increasing numbers of C30s around whereI live

Probably because they are discounting them like its going out of fashion! Plus, the £2000 sports pack now comes as standard on every model - for no additional cost. Sign of desperation from Volvo?