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The C30’s odd blend of 'funky' and ‘dull’ is well suited to an eco model
18 December 2008

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.


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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

Join the debate


18 December 2008

I think the alloys are funky! Anyone else remember the disc wheel covers on the earliest Sierras?

18 December 2008

[quote RobotBoogie]I think the alloys are funky! Anyone else remember the disc wheel covers on the earliest Sierras?[/quote]

Sadly i do remember them - despite trying as hard as I can to forget. Personally i hate the alloys, a matter of personal taste I guess.

I wonder if cash-starved Volvo have resorted to raiding their parent company Fords old designs cupboards for inspiration to save costs...

18 December 2008

I'm glad to see they've dropped the standard 1.6 model now. I have often wondered why manufacturers persist with two similarly spec'd cars in their range, one eco, one standard.

Also, Volvo show again that they have managed to improve the performance of their cars with the eco additions. With such little driving difference between the two, you have to wonder they and other manufacturers in the same position been doing for years?

19 December 2008

I can't say I have ever liked the C30. This one may make more sense environmentally and economically - but surely giving a small, overpriced, niche package like this one the eco treatment is missing the point? Its largely impractical and from a design exercise point of view, as Volvo seem to market it, misses the mark also? The only one I half like is the T5, simply because it appeals to the little boy in me. The buying public seem to agree, by avoiding it too.

19 December 2008

Bizarrely, I'm seeing increasing numbers of C30s around whereI live - in Brighton. Perhaps its becoming the MINI replacement of choice for the feckless urban (now slightly less) rich that populate the town?

19 December 2008

[quote DelgadosKnee]Bizarrely, I'm seeing increasing numbers of C30s around whereI live [/quote]

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?

27 December 2008

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.

29 December 2008

[quote RobotBoogie]I think the alloys are funky! [/quote]


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