• Oct 15, 2007
click above image to view high-res gallery of the 2008 Volvo C30

Despite a number of great coupe offerings recently, two-door hatchbacks have sold rather badly in this country in the past few years. Volvo, however, thinks the best way it can compete in the coupe niche is by resurrecting the 1971 P1800ES. And if you ask us, they could be right.

The Volvo C30 is an odd car when seen among SUV-filled American traffic. Its relatively tall, stubby nose juts out from the headlight-capped fenders wrapped snugly around 18-inch alloys. The front fender line continues as the car's full length shoulder, and just beyond the doors, widens to become the rear fender and taillights. It's a dramatic look that lets the C30 trick those on the outside into seeing a much smaller vehicle than it actually is.

In back, you might first think the hatch opening would be huge, but only the rear glass opens, reminding us of another favorite two-door hatchback: the BMW Z Coupe. But unlike the Bimmer, the Volvo has some usable space back there, though it's not that easy to access through the small opening. There are also two more seats than in the Z, and more than adequate head and leg room for all passengers. We don't recommend the C30 for cross-country trips with all the kids, but singles, young couples and maybe a small, light-traveling family will find it big enough for daily use and possibly even weekend treks.

Continue reading about the C30 after the jump.



Live Photos Copyright ©2007 Chris Tutor / Weblogs, Inc.


Interior appointments are high quality, with a soft, almost rubbery dash cover, metallic accents on the console and interior door handles and a seemingly durable seat upholstery. The C30's entertainment and environmental controls are housed in an inch-thin plastic and metal ribbon that flows from the dash to the gear selector. The open space behind has a small cup for loose change or mobile phone and adds to the car's airy feeling inside. It's a direct port from the S40, but no complaints here.

Unfortunately we didn't get as much time with the C30 as we wanted, but the little bit of country-road driving we did was enjoyable. The suspension is tight enough to take curves well over suggested speed limits, but rough spots are dampened pretty well. The car's turbocharged 5-cylinder is sneaky. At low speeds and among stop and go traffic it does its job well without bringing attention to itself. Pressing the gas, however, wakes up all 227 horses and acceleration is granted post haste. Turbo lag is nowhere to be seen, and, in fact, we had forgotten it was even turbocharged until after the test drive.

The two negatives most apparent about the car are the multitude of tiny buttons for the radio and an annoying metal strip on the underside of the otherwise awesome steering wheel. Grabbing a piece of aluminum that's been sitting in the Georgia sun for a couple of hours isn't a pleasant thing. One of those cheap strap-on wheel covers would fix it, but would be an almost unforgivable offense in an interior as nice as this.

The Ice-White C30 Version 2.0 we drove didn't have a Monroney attached, so we can't say exactly what options it had or what it would cost as tested. But running through the build-your-own feature at Volvo's Web site, and guessing at options we think it might have had, our car probably would sticker at about $28,170. That's with the Version 2.0 package, an automatic transmission and satellite radio. Volvo brags that the C30 is so customizable that it will be hard to find two alike thanks to its Custom Build program. A $300 fee opens up a multitude of options to make it your very own C30.

We like this car, and with the Version 1.0's $22,700 base price think it will give the VW Rabbit a good race, and might even sway some sedan buyers.

Volvo provided the vehicle and SEAMO the location for testing. Autoblog does not accept travel or lodging from automakers when attending media events.

Live Photos Copyright ©2007 Chris Tutor / Weblogs, Inc.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 21 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      "Despite a number of great coupe offerings recently, two-door hatchbacks have sold rather badly in this country in the past few years."

      Umm, the Mini Cooper begs to differ.

      I like the C30, I do, but I find myself questioning if Volvo's really the best brand to play in the hot hatch waters. For the price of a C30, I'd just as soon have a GTI.

      Why not tap its platform mates? A Mazda3 or Euro Focus 3-door would be more affordable and likely sell better.
      • 7 Years Ago
      The 2.0l Ford Focus engine is probably the worst engine in this car. In fact, there are no really good gas engines besides the T5 that offers lots of torque at lower revs. Ford should better develop a 1.6l soft turbo very soon to compete against the french and italian carmakers.

      The diesels are all great engines with the 1.6l (the same engine as found in the Mini Cooper D) making you feel like having a much bigger engine (just compare its torque with the I5 gas engines). The PSA sourced 2.0D is the most harmonic engine for this car. Plenty of torque, a great six speed manual and the top speed of 125mph is okay for easy travelling on the autobahn. The Volvo sourced D5 is also a great engine, but unfortunately it is just available with Volvos phlegmatic automatic transmission and it is very nose heavy.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I don't get the console "ribbon" at all.

      Instead of the illusion of empty space, why not move those HVAC & radio controls up higher and create ACTUAL empty space? This must be why I don't design car interiors for a living.

      I do like this car a lot, though. If the price weren't so innovative ($25-$30K for a little 3-door?) I'd shop it to replace my family's "fun" car.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I drove a 5 speed one a couple of weeks ago and a 6 speed manual last week.

      Very fun car and typically comfortable Volvo seats. At 5 Foot 11 I was able to adjust the driver's seat so that someone the same size as me could sit behind me and I could still drive comfortably. Pretty efficient use of space IMO.

      The clutch is very, very light but I was wearing work boots so that might have been part of the problem. I couldn't get a good feel for the clutch with the thick soles and stiff leather uppers.

      The shifter throws are a little on the long side but You will get used to it after a few drives. If it really bothers you then you could always get a short shift kit for a couple of hundred bucks.

      Power delivery is very good and you are right the C30 does not feel like a turbocharged car around town. I am guessing that the relatively long stroke relative to the bore really helps in around town driving and reduction in turbo lag.

      I tried to stall the car out on purpose and it was very hard. I can see this being a good car to teach someone how to drive a stick with. i want drive one that has a few thousand more miles on it instead of the brand new one I drove to see if the clutch firms up a little bit.

      I will most likely buy a C30 in the summer unless the MINI Clubman really blows me away or if VW comes out with a very high mileage Rabbit Diesel AND addresses some of my reliability concerns.
      • 7 Years Ago
      i was going to respond to mattias, but i then realized that he's talking about the european version. in the states we only get the T5, and it can be had with a nice 6 speed.

      i really want this car. i think it's great looking, very customizable, and a neat alternative as an upmarket small car for us in the US. however, i'm not a big fan of how quickly my car becomes once i'm building it on the website....
      • 7 Years Ago
      This weekend I test drove this car. It's nice enough but compared to the Audi A3 it's less convinent and sporty. I wish there were more of these sporty hatchback/crossovers to choose from.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Good writeup, covered the bases pretty well.

      Was there an embargo on the C30 until last week? I've been seeing a plethora of reviews all of a sudden (Mateja, Autoblog come to mind)
      • 7 Years Ago
      At the moment I have a few cracked ribs and generally sore torso from a skating accident. I can't wait to get back to my regular skates. My age of 61 will not stop me. Anyway, this weekend I sat in a C30. It was amazingly easy and comfortable to get in and out of. No pain. This is a great little car whether or not it sells well. I also like the floating ribbon console. It's different and therefore refreshing. Same old, same old doesn't get it with me. Mix it up! Thanks Volvo.
      • 7 Years Ago
      My wife and I went to the dealer 4 weeks ago with intentions of really considering the C30. We ended up walking out with a S40. The car was for my wife, so she wanted something small (since I drive an X-Type), but we both agreed the C30 was "too" small and the S40 was a much better buy. The S40 has been great thus far.
      • 7 Years Ago
      nice! More expensive, slower, less sporty and less usable then a gti? Sign me up, they'll sell hundreds!
      • 7 Years Ago
      I wish the Volvo would have put the new inline6 in it, and the 6 speed automatic too.
      3.2 liters 235hp is plenty, and maybe more is they put a real dual exhaust system. I don't live at altitude so the turbo isn't of any interest.
      Kind of an R32 lite, if they would have gone that way.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I almost want one just for the looks and that gorgeous waterfall of a center console. It's a stylishly quirky car and I really, really like it. I'd pay extra for one over a GTI in a heartbeat.
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