The last time I bought something from IKEA I was very disappointed. Not only did the bookshelf for my ever expanding library of car magazines (I tell my fiancee it’s for research) fall apart after a month, it didn’t look cool, which is what I thought smart Swedish design was supposed to do – be both well-constructed and aesthetically pleasing.
Unlike my furniture misadventure, the new Volvo C30 looks like it might be able to deliver on that promise.
The design inspiration for the C30 comes from the classic form of the Volvo P1800 ES, which was a station wagon version of the P1800 coupe. The P1800 coupe was the car that featured in the 1960s TV series The Saint which starred Roger Moore in his pre-Bond days.
Just like the old P1800, the C30 is a very stylish piece of design and takes several cues from the original.
The glass hatch at the back is one such feature, but in this case form rules function. The cargo space itself is not too bad, but the aperture is strangely shaped and makes putting large items in the back a bit ‘square peg in a round hole’. It will fit bags of groceries no worries, but you won’t fit big boxes or other bulky items in. The detachable boot blind in the back helps to reduce the paranoia of theft, but also makes putting tall items in the boot a bit of a pain.
The wide hips of the C30 pay tribute to the fins on the P1800 and give the car a very seductive look.
The side windows also play on the classic P1800 theme but they don’t do rearward visibility any favours, creating quite thick C-pillars that make parking a bit difficult.
These features aside the C30 follows the Volvo corporate look closely with the same front and rear treatments (especially in the lights) as the rest of the Swedish car-maker’s range.
Being a dark grey, the cabin of our base model test car is a little drab but the seats are very comfortable and the ‘floating’ silver centre console adds a spark of colour.
Interior architecture is neat and feels as solid as any Audi or BMW but without the flash.
The pictorial buttons for the climate control system are unique to Volvo and a great idea as well as being very easy to use. These are incorporated with the stereo controls on the floating console which has enough space behind it for wallets and phones.
Overall the interior is well-designed and purposeful with a feeling of solidity that runs right through to the driving experience.
Driving the C30 it feels incredibly stable, dense even, a feeling as unexpected as picking up a small piece of gold and discovering how weighty it is. It is a smallish car but at 1429kg it’s no lightweight, but this weight does play a role in making the car feel planted when driving.
Making your way at speed on patchy back-roads the Volvo is very composed and absorbs bumps with ease, gliding over New Zealand’s typically rough and undulating blacktop almost like a luxury saloon but without the wallow and roll associated with softly sprung large cars.
Push the Volvo into a fast corner and all you will find is a very safe form of understeer to curb your enthusiasm. It is a car that feels superglued to the road, very safe and very composed but not that sporty at all.
The 2.4-litre, 5-cylinder engine is very linear in its delivery and develops moderate power, but never enough to push you back into the seat. It sounds good too, with an off-beat idle that really starts to growl when you push it hard. The automatic transmission is a very smooth bit of gear that shifts firmly and lets you wind the engine to the redline without interfering by changing up early.
The C30 has sporting pretentions, by how it looks and the growly 5-pot, but it doesn’t deliver a proper sporting drive. With this in mind there is a hotter turbocharged T5 version of the C30 that uses the same engine as the Focus XR5 and could be the one to go for if sporty hatches are your thing
At $44,990 for the base S model (as tested), it is not cheap but it is a quality piece with Euro flair that will appeal to those more interested in looking good around town rather than a driver’s car.
Click through to the next page for full specs on the Volvo C30 S.
Price: from $44,990 (as tested).
What we like
- Feeling of solidity when driving
- Interior quality
- Growly engine
What we don’t like
- Perhaps a bit pricey
- Bit drab inside
- If you want overtaking power, buy the turbo version (or a Focus XR5)
Volvo C30 S 2.4i (125 kW)
Engine Type: Five-cylinder petrol
Power Train: Front wheel drive
Number of cylinders: 5
Engine Displacement: 2435 cc
Engine Bore: 83 mm
Engine Stroke: 90 mm
Max Engine Power: 125 kW@6000 rpm
Torque: 230 Nm@4400 rpm
Fuel type: Petrol
Acceleration (0-100) Five-speed Geartronic transmission: 8.8 s
Fuel consumption (city): 13.1 l/100km
Fuel consumption (highway): 6.6 l/100km
Fuel consumption (mixed): 9 l/100km
Emissions CO2: 214 g/km
Fuel Capacity 62 l
Cargo Capacity 233 kg
Towing Capacity 1500 kg
Height 1447 mm
Length 4252 mm
Width 1782 mm
Width inc Mirrors 2039 mm
Wheel base 2640 mm
Track Front 1548 mm
Track Rear 1544 mm
Turning Circle 11.1 m
Head Room Front 988 mm
Head Room Rear 959 mm
Shoulder Room Front 1390 mm
Shoulder Room Rear 1303 mm
Leg Room Front 1057 mm
Leg Room Rear 869 mm
Hip Room Front 1380 mm
Hip Room Rear 1146 mm
Words Ben Dillon, photos Darren Cottingham