From £14,365
Likeable, but new sport chassis compromises comfort and prices are still too high

Our Verdict

Volvo C30 2007-2012

The C30 2.0D disappoints, but 1.6D is very competitive. Nice, but flawed

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    Volvo C30 1.6D DRIVe

    Take the C30 at its actual monetary value and it’s harder to make a more convincing case
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    Volvo C30 Polestar Concept

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Volvo C30 2.0D SE

What is it?

This is the new Volvo C30, which has been given a new face, a range of new options and a new sports-chassis setup, which will cost you £400 unless you opt for the top-spec R Design model which gets it as standard.

Our test car came fitted with the 2.0-litre, 134bhp turbodiesel engine, which remains unchanged from the pre-facelift C30.

What’s it like?

In practice the engine feels old compared to many of the equivalent motors now widely available. Though there’s ample torque and acceleration in the mid range, power delivery is very peaky and the gruff engine noise is a noticeable intrusion into the cabin – particularly if you choose to test the sport chassis’ abilities and stray into the higher rev range.

And if you do decide to do that it becomes clear that the faster steering rack, 10mm lower ride height and stiffer springs and dampers have made the C30 a more responsive drive. Turn-in is sharp, and the experience is aided by good body control and high grip levels.

But this still doesn’t feel anything close to a hot hatch, and unfortunately the extra driver reward comes at the cost of comfort. At lower speeds the C30 suffers from a firm ride that transmits all the undulations and breaks in the road surface into the cabin. The car settles at higher speeds, particularly on smoother motorway surfaces, but for many it will make sense to save £400 and keep the more pliant ride of the standard car.


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Otherwise, all the C30’s usual traits are still there. The cabin feels classy and has well laid-out switchgear, and there is the coupe-styling and rarity factor that very few rivals can lay claim to.

Should I buy one?

Of all the traits that the Volvo C30 has held onto through its facelift, the high price is the least welcome. With the sport chassis option added to this 2.0 D SE car, the price rises to £19,010 and there are many hatches that are more rewarding to drive and more practical to live with for similar or less money.

Likeable as the Volvo C30 is, and though the cheaper 1.6-litre diesel is much more competitive, the facelift has done nothing to make the models at this end of the range any more justifiable than they ever have been.


Join the debate


19 March 2010

I hope they have sorted our the ride and cabin refinement. I drove one of these for a while and it crashed and thumped on any surface. Also terrible wind noise around the doors. Horrible little car.

19 March 2010

Hmm - does the C30 get the award for " most pointless and wasteful facelift ever " ?.

Volvo have wasted millions making an attractively styled car ugly when they should have thrown those millions at the interior and the powertrains. From what I can tell, they've dropped the old 5 cylinder diesel and are not going to fit the new single or twin turbo one - so your options are the soon to be dead 5 pot petrol, the Frog DW10 garbage that was never that good to begin with and a suite of anaemic non turbo petrols that just make the C30 a funny looking rolling road block.

Way to go Volvo.

Oh god - they've only gone and done the same to the C70 as well.

What a bunch of tools

19 March 2010

[quote Autocar]

At lower speeds the C30 suffers from a firm ride that transmits all the undulations and breaks in the road surface into the cabin.[/quote]


Nobody wants this kind of nonsense any more.

19 March 2010

[quote matt29]I hope they have sorted our the ride and cabin refinement. I drove one of these for a while and it crashed and thumped on any surface. Also terrible wind noise around the doors. Horrible little car.[/quote]

I'm driving a facelifted 1.6 start/stop DRIVe diesel around for for the day-job over the next three or four months. SE Lux spec, so lots of leather and toys. Having driven the pre-facelift model for quite a few miles, I can confirm that the problem with wind noise round the doors (which was unacceptable, and caused by the old-style wing mirrors, apparently) has virtually gone. The one I'm punting about in has laminated side glass, so that helps...

The ride (lowered) on the DRIVe model is a bit fidgety at urban speeds (no worse than a standard Focus, mind you) but smooth and very well controlled at higher speeds. The suspension is a lot quieter than the Focus as well. The classy, minimalist cabin is definitely a trump card. The seats are stupendously comfortable, the engine is quiet (a lot more so than the 2 litre diesel) and the controls are slick. The top-spec Dynaudio sound system is awesome too.

Overall, a fairly unexciting (though not dull) car, but a very comfortable one over long distances.

19 March 2010

are brown cars back in fashion. i saw a brown mini mayfair on display. remember the old brown mercedes.

19 March 2010

( vote conservative ) . o the joys of the company car driver.

19 March 2010

The only car in the range I see any point to really is the 1.6D DrivE thing. The T5 maybe... What is it with Volvo trying to do this whole sporty thing? Aren't there enough "sporty premium" manufacturers? Volvo have some of the best seats in the business - the C30 deserves softer, but well damped suspension, a 1.6 petrol turbo and maybe a decent enough 160-180bhp diesel. That way you have a good looking car with excellent economy, or a good looking car with "warm hatch" performance and handling.


22 March 2010

I don't followt how using the same platform Ford produce such gems and Volvo such lemons. I know there is a lot in tuning the chassis but can it be so much. I suppose the nearest compraison is Seat and VW, whatever it is cheap to spend an extra 2 months honing chassis settings and if you do not have the skills in Sweden buy then in.

23 March 2010

Now they need to get going on a replacement version, which would be rear-wheel-drive and would sport an elliptical front grille and circular headlights, and come out with a sleek 2+2 coupé (and perhaps convertible) version to compete with the Toyota FT-86 when it gets made... call it the P2000. Offer a range of straight-five, straight-six and V8 engines (all of which Volvo already has access to).

Time someone at Volvo took notice of these enthusiasts, I reckon.

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