2012 Volvo C30

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Review: 2008 Volvo C30

This 2008 review is representative of model years 2008 to 2013.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Rating: 8

Bottom Line:

The lowest-cost, youth-oriented Volvo aims to penetrate the upscale small-car market.
Pros:
  • Quick
  • Fun to drive
  • Distinctive styling
Cons:
  • Long, heavy doors
  • Soft brake pedal
  • High cargo opening

The new Volvo C30 hatchback coupe fits in the emerging market for small, upscale cars such as the MINI Cooper and upcoming Smart model. It's the smallest Volvo ever sold in America except for about 70 long-forgotten P1900 sports cars made in the 1950s.

High gasoline prices are fueling that youth-oriented market, although it remains to be seen if many Americans will buy small, upscale cars that cost as much as larger ones — although the C30 is bigger than the MINI.

The 2008 C30 is the lowest-cost 2008 Volvo. But the automaker says the car is built to the same principles as other Volvos, starting with a solid body.

The wedge-shaped C30 is fun to drive. It's a curvy, stylish, front-wheel-drive coupe derived from Volvo's S40 sport sedan, although it's 8.5 inches shorter and 320 pounds lighter.

There are two trim levels: the $22,700 1.0 and $25,700 2.0. Both have a good number of comfort, convenience and safety features.

Custom Build Program
Many younger car owners like to individualize their cars, so Volvo offers for a one-time $300 charge a "Custom Build" program with an array of options, exterior colors and interior combinations.

Offered are 17 exterior colors and 12 interior color combinations. There are more than 30 individual options, including heated seats, keyless starting and a blind-spot warning system.

In fact, Volvo says it will be difficult to find two C30s that are exactly alike.

Long, Heavy Doors
Four tall adults fit in the C30's quiet, airy interior, although a 6-footer behind the driver will have tight knee room. Occupants must get past long, heavy doors that are awkward in tight parking spots.

Front seats are supportive, but the seatback adjustment control is awkward to use. And seat belts are not easily reached when you try to pull them to a fastening position. Backlit gauges can be easily read, even if a driver is wearing sunglasses — often not the case.

Stylish Interior
The ignition switch is easily reached on the dashboard, and the center dash stack is inspired by bentwood Scandinavian furniture. It drapes off the dashboard center and curls rearward to "float" over the front console, which contains well-placed dual cupholders.

There's a small, deep storage bin behind the cupholders, and doors have small storage pockets.

The large sound system and climate controls are easily used. While the inside hood release is buried under the dash, at least it's colored red to make it easier to spot.

Unique Glass Hatch
Adding to the C30's distinctiveness is a large, frameless glass hatch, which dips low for good visibility. The hatch is reminiscent of the glass hatch on Volvo's 1972-73 P1800ES sports/GT station wagon. But the rear spoiler above the hatch has a tacked-on look.

The hatch is easy to open or shut with two fingers. However, the hatch opening is high and not conventionally shaped. The cargo area is moderately large, and the backs of the two bucket-style rear seats can be flipped forward for additional cargo space.

Strong Turbo Engine
The turbocharged 2.5-liter 5-cylinder engine produces 227 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque from a low 1500 rpm to 5000 rpm for good response at all speeds.

A light pressure turbocharger increases power and prevents it from coming on with an uncomfortable rush during fast acceleration.

The engine is smooth and provides good merging and passing. It lets the 149-mph C30 do 0-60 mph in 6.2 seconds with the standard, slick-shifting 6-speed manual transmission and in 6.6 seconds with the responsive $1,250 automatic, which has a manual shift feature.

Volvo national spokesman Dan Johnston said Volvo expects that 60 percent of initial C30 buyers will order the manual transmission, but that eventually about 80 percent of the car's buyers will choose the automatic.

Fuel economy is an estimated 19 mpg in the city and 28 on the highway with the manual transmission and 19 and 27 with the automatic. Only regular-grade gasoline is needed.

Occasional Choppy Ride
The quick, nicely weighted steering has the right amount of power assist. The sure handling is enhanced by wide front and rear tracks. The 2.0 trim level with the stiffer suspension has the sharpest reflexes. The ride of a test 2.0 C30 was firm, but supple, with a long wheelbase helping smooth it out. However, the ride sometimes got choppy on poorly paved side streets.

The brake pedal is overly soft, but it has a linear action and stopping distances are good. The anti-lock brakes have electronic brake force distribution and electronic brake assistance.

The hood glides up on hydraulic struts, and fluid filler areas in the engine compartment can be easily reached.

Ford-owned Volvo doesn't plan to make the C30 a high-volume 2008 model in America, but this new coupe promises to make small, upscale cars more attractive.

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BB06 - 8/27/2014 4:02:53 PM