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2010 Volvo C30 R-Design - Click above for high-res image gallery

There was a time when putting the words 'Volvo' and 'Design' in the same sentence was the punchline to a bad joke, but the Swedish automaker has come a long way since then. The C30 may be the best evidence to date that Volvo can make an attractive, sporty looking hatchback, and the little four-seater is about to get more interesting at this year's Frankfurt Motor Show.

Volvo has already released pics of the upgraded C30, complete with a more expressive front end and cleaner rear fascia, and the Swedish automaker is planning an R-Design variant of its funky little hatch that features R badges and a body kit treatment with front and rear spoilers. The C30 R-Design will also sport 17-inch Cratus aluminum wheels (18s optional) and chrome-plated sports tailpipes. On the inside, Volvo continues its tradition of going big on the R badging with R-Design emblems on the front seats, center stack, steering wheel and panel inserts. The gear level is now trimmed in aluminum and leather and the sports pedals get the aluminum treatment as well.

In the recent past, Volvo has veered away from providing more powerful powertrains for its R-badged vehicles, and the C30 is no different. The C30 does, however come with an upgraded steering and chassis package that Volvo says was tested on the twisty roads of England and the high-speed highways of the German Autobahn. Volvo engineers added stiffer bushings and quickened the steering ratio to provide 10% quicker responses. The R-Design C30 will also have 30% stiffer springs to give the Volvo hatch sportier driving characteristics. Hit the jump to read over the Volvo presser, and click on the gallery below to get a closer look at the Volvo C30 R-Design.

[Source: Volvo]


New Volvo C30 R-Design with sport chassis of top class
The Volvo C30 R-Design is the nearest thing to a dedicated sports car in the Volvo model range. The new chassis is considerably sharper, with stiffer, more distinct properties. And the exclusive extra equipment gives the C30 R-Design just the right attitude.

The biggest changes in the new Volvo C30 R-Design, which make its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in mid-September, are actually hidden beneath the skin. While the car's extroverted body kit and design cues are easy to see, it is the chassis and the steering that have been the main focus of attention. The aim is to create a sporty driving experience and a sophisticated feeling of comfort.

"The new R-Design chassis builds further on the success of the sport chassis introduced in the Volvo S80 earlier in 2009. Although the actual properties differ between these two cars, we've had plenty of good experience on which to build further in the Volvo C30," says Stefan Sällqvist, manager Vehicle Dynamics at Volvo Cars.

Significant changes to the sport chassis

In order to meet the high standards, the R-Design chassis has been modified in several areas. The steering is more precise owing to the installation of stiffer bushings. The steering ratio is lower, giving 10 percent faster response to steering wheel input. Spring stiffness has been increased by no less than 30 percent in order to increase the car's poise in enthusiastic driving. The dampers are stiffer and are now of the exclusive mono-tube type that builds up pressure much more quickly. The roll stabilizers are stiffer to reduce any leaning tendency when taking corners.

The new sport chassis has made the C30 R-Design a better-balanced and more agile car. Road contact is more distinct and feedback from the wheels is faster and clearer, promoting a more alert feeling while driving. And that is something that also benefits safety.

"The driver should feel confident that the car will behave exactly as expected. That is an important part of our safety focus when we develop new chassis. This feeling of security also means the driver can fully enjoy the sporty driving characteristics," says Sällqvist,

Good test results, clear differences

Volvo's chassis experts have put the new R-Design chassis through a regime of intensive tests throughout Europe: On narrow, twisting lanes in England, at high speed on the German autobahn, on icy winter roads in the very north of Scandinavia and the results are highly gratifying.

"A customer who test-drives the new C30 R-Design will immediately feel the difference. Even before the car has covered fifty metres, the driver will be aware of the crisp steering and the distinct chassis response. We are very pleased with the result and have considerable hope that keen drivers will feel the same way," continues Sällqvist.

New color-matched body kit
The most noticeable design change is an all-new body kit featuring a redesigned front and rear. The body kit is painted the same color as the rest of the body, giving a visual impression that the car has been lowered by much more than the actual 10 mm reduction in ride height. The new C30 R-Design is also equipped with five-spoke Cratus wheels, just like the rest of the R-Design range. The interior is now available with dramatic new black upholstery as an alternative.

C30 R-Design - an overview

The R-Design package allows customers the option of choosing between seven exterior body colours and offers a range of specially designed exterior and interior details.

* R-Design badge in the grille
* Grille and door mirror housings in special silk metal finish
* Body kit with front and rear spoilers, lower door trim moulding and side-skirts colour-matched to the rest of the body
* New 17-inch five-spoke Cratus aluminium wheels (18-inch optional)
* Tailgate spoiler
* Visible chrome-plated sports tailpipes (90 mm)

* Upholstery in two colour combinations: cream-coloured leather with sides in dark grey Flex-Tec, or off-black leather with edges in off-black (new)
* Embossed R-Design emblem in the front seats
* R-Design centre stack and panel inserts
* Gear lever knob trimmed in leather and aluminium
* Sports pedals in aluminium, with rubber ribs
* Sports steering wheel trimmed in leather, with R-Design emblem
* Blue speedometer and rev counter gauges
* Textile floor mats with contrasting piping

R-Design attracts new customers

The R-Design appeals to the discerning younger customer segment that is looking for a personalised car with an exclusive, sporty nature. At the same time, R-Design has become a way for Volvo Cars to boost the company's attractiveness as a brand and to enhance a more emotive connection to its products. And customer surveys show that this strategy is paying off. On some markets, no less than 80 percent of all C30 customers choose R-Design. A large proportion of these customers are under 35 years old. More than in any other instance, these are customers who have come from a different car make.

"What has enticed these customers to Volvo are the design and attitude of the R-Design model. In this way, R-Design has helped both increase our sales and bring down the average age of our customer base, both of which are very positive moves," says Lennart Stegland, president of Volvo Special Vehicles.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      wow, 10% quicker response, that is so AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!! wtf?
      • 5 Years Ago
      The rear looks weird. Reminds me of Suzuki Aerio rear

      • 5 Years Ago
      S60R driver here.

      No way am I going to buy a C30 unless it has 300-HP and AWD.

      Unless you guys release a real R, I'm going to have to mosey on over to Audi for my next purchase, Volvo!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Well, it is already turbocharged...
        • 5 Years Ago
        I'll second your move to an Audi product from Subaru, if Subaru continues watering down the exterior and interior of their cars.

        Volvo has the looks ok...

        Subaru has the drivetrain down.

        Neither of them get both right.

        A5 Sportback is right up my alley, but not arriving in the US, and I wish A5 coupe was just a bit more sleek and dramatic, more like the too-small TT, and the $$$$ R8.

        And then Infiniti brings AWD to the G37 Coupe... but without a manual gearbox with it.

        AWD fans can't seem to catch a whole and complete break in the US. it is always A or B, but not both.
        • 5 Years Ago
        They can't just make a true R version unless they can be assured that they will sell well. That is the reason the S60R stopped being made. It wasn't because it wasn't a great car, just that no one was buying them except true Volvo enthusiasts. Volvo would gladly make a C30R for their loyal supporters if the economic conditions were better, that's how the S60R came to exist, the loyalists wanted it to be made. On another note Volvo has always had great designs, so much so that aesthetics would take a backseat to design. Designed to protect the occupants at all costs. Shouldn't every car be made this way?
        • 5 Years Ago

        Kudos on your Subarus. I too am now an SVX driver, and a turbo Legacy, when Legacys looked good, before they just ruined them.


        I hear that argument all of the time, and it sounds good, but only about one or two layers thick.

        What happened to building a product, especially an "R-model" enthusiast product WELL first, and then SELLING it.

        If people waited for demand to be assured, they'd be waiting themselves out of business.

        The best cars usually tend to be designed to do what they are supposed to do, and then SOLD after the car was designed and built.

        The advent of the bean-counter decision maker has brought about this mentality of catering to whatever low common denominator the bean counters think is safe, and now "Enthusiast models" of things are paint jobs and low profile tires. AWD is left out because of cost, regardless that it would DO THE JOB better than FWD.

        Subaru thinks that bland styling and less content will sell better to the appliance crowd.

        Mazda thinks that an emotive face on the car will identify with people who badly just want to look and feel happy.

        And so many companies think that enthusiasts are just as skin deep as everyone else, where a paint job and some bling, and a +1 wheel fitment will whet appetites, because it is all about looks.

        Most enthusiasts are not that skin deep. If cars were built more toward the people who KNOW what is going on, the followers who are skin deep will also get better product, and salesmen will get more bullet points to talk about, rather than having to blather on about technically meaningless nonsense, and how the car makes you look...

        I'd rather have a real car that is closer to it's actual potential, than handicapped by bean-counters chasing sales before the design is even complete, based on their estimations of what people want. I want a good product that can stand on it's own merits and thus be saleable to people, whether they know cars, or don't.

        I know cars, and I don't buy cars that are designed for people who don't know cars. The inverse is not the same equation. People who don't know cars will buy cars designed by and for people who do. Even followers like to follow those "in the know".
      • 5 Years Ago
      Errr that thing is crappy.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I love the C30 and Volvo's current design language in general. However, considering price I'd go with the standard C30 and do my own upgrades.

      I really don't understand why Ford doesn't just drop Lincoln and keep Volvo. The former is all but dead, the latter looking better than ever. Just please invest in an S60 and XC90 update ASAP, and all will be well.

      I was driving behind a fine black V70 yesterday and my wife (who hates wagons) said, "You know, that's the one station wagon I wouldn't mind driving". I just smiled and nodded. But of course, I've been hitting up Autotrader.com recently for used V70Rs...
      • 5 Years Ago
      I wish the c30 started a few grand cheaper, then I'd actually be considering it.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Why did they even change it? The headlights are way too 'long'.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Have you seen any new cars recently? Take a look at the Fiesta or something and get back to me.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "sports tailpipes" huh?

      • 5 Years Ago
      Nice, I'd love to have a volvo anyday.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Looks real nice. Too bad it will probably cost $35k+ if it ever makes it to the states (and that's a big if).
        • 5 Years Ago
        The current C30 R-Design is available in the US starting at $26K. The refreshed model should go on sale next year at pretty much the same price.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I'm with you, I'd get a GTI instead of this car, but that's just me.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Looks pretty awesome. Big fan of Volvo's, and really like this little car. Volvo is like the guy who is content with himself and never tries to hard to be cool.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It's still just an expensive body kit. I don't think the slightly improved handling is going to woo over that many buyers. I think the C30 is an attractive hatchback, but I think it can certainly use a bit more power.
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