2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition

Vital Stats

Engine:
Turbo 2.5L I5
Power:
250 HP / 273 LB-FT
Transmission:
6-Speed Manual
Drivetrain:
Front-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
3,211 LBS
Seating:
2+2
Cargo:
12.9 / 20.2 CU-FT
MPG:
21 City / 29 HWY
Base Price:
$32,445
As Tested Price:
$35,545
Last Hurrah Comes and Goes In A Hurry



It isn't very often that we drive a new car that's already out of production, but that's exactly what has happened with this 2013 Volvo C30. After just five years on the North American market, the last C30 quietly rolled off the assembly line back in December. But before that happened, Volvo decided to send its compact hatchback out on a high note with a little added performance and exclusivity courtesy of this R-Design Polestar Limited Edition model.

The term "hot hatch" is admittedly tossed around a lot these days, but the combination of an R-Design styling package coupled with a good number of extra ponies under the hood should be more than enough to put the C30 in the mix with the likes of the Volkswagen GTI and its not-too-distant cousin, the Mazdaspeed3. The chief problem with the Polestar Limited Edition, though, is that it's priced against sportier all-wheel-drive compacts like the Golf R and Subaru WRX STI, so we decided to spend a week with the Polestar to see if its exclusivity and performance are enough to make up for its higher price tag.
2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition side view2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition front view2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition rear view

Love it or hate it, the C30 definitely stands out from the crowd.

Love it or hate it, the C30 definitely stands out from the crowd thanks in large part to that all-glass hatch inspired by the classic Volvo P1800, but the Polestar Limited Edition goes a step further by coloring the car in a Smurftastic shade dubbed Rebel Blue, while tossing on a gorgeous set of matte-black 17-inch wheels. The only other visual cue indicating that this is a limited edition model is a serialized plaque mounted in between the center vents (color matched to the exterior color) showing exactly which of the 250-unit production run your derrière is planted in. Our tester? No. 172. Everything else on the car is part of the $2,350 R-Design styling package, including its silver mirror caps, lower rear fascia with dual 3.5-inch pipes poking through, a liftgate spoiler and color-matched aero bits on the front fascia and rocker panels.

Unlike most hot hatches that start life as budget-minded compacts, the C30 has an upscale interior even in base form. The R-Design package brings with it some much-needed performance-minded enhancement to the cabin, including a thick-rimmed steering wheel and leather-wrapped shift lever, both with aluminum inlays. Additional R-Design styling upgrades include the blue-accented instrument gauges, two-tone seats, sport pedals and metallic trim on the center stack and center console with a wave epicenter effect machined into the surface. Rather than sacrificing driving comfort with heavily bolstered sport buckets, Volvo has elected to stick with the stock seats, which is both good and bad depending on what you want out of this car.

2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition interior
2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition interior2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition rear seats2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition rear cargo area

The raked rear end and throwback frameless glass hatch negate the functional purpose of choosing a hatchback in the first place.

Based on the now-defunct Volvo S40 sedan, the C30 has plenty of space for front passengers, and even the bucket-style seats in the back allow enough room for taller rear passengers. The benefit of only two back seats is that there's plenty of hip and elbow room. The raked rear end and throwback frameless glass hatch might look cool from the outside, but they create a smallish opening while limiting total cargo volume, a combination that pretty much negates the functional purpose of choosing a hatchback in the first place. With the rear seats up, the C30's shallow 12.9 cubic feet of room is almost half the rear cargo area of a Ford Focus ST, and even with the rear seats folded down, the 20.2 cubic feet is still less than the Ford with its rear seats in place.

Those familiar with recent Volvo products will feel at home inside the C30. Volvo's signature waterfall center stack still has an unusual amount of buttons, and the optional navigation is an aging one that still uses a pop-up screen mounted atop the instrument panel. While aesthetically pleasing, our C30's center stack would prove to be its biggest flaw in terms of fit and finish – there was a gap measuring almost a half inch that, from the right angle, offered a great view of the shift lever's inner workings(!). As for the navigation system, it's controlled using either a wireless remote control or switchgear mounted to the back of the steering wheel consisting of a small toggle and two buttons. The blind operation of the wheel-mounted controls takes some time to get used to (mostly just figuring out the "Enter" and "Back" buttons), but it proved to be an easy system to figure out overall, and all navigation functions can be used at any point while driving.

Autoblog Short Cuts: 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition

This added performance can be effected on whatever C30s are still on dealer lots for $1,295.

The business end of the Polestar Limited Edition is the same 2.5-liter turbocharged inline five-cylinder engine used in the standard C30, but Polestar tuning has increased output to 250 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. To conjure up the extra 23 hp and 37 lb-ft, the turbo's boost pressure has been upped and the engine controller re-mapped for optimal ignition and fuel timing, as well as throttle response. The good news is that this added performance can be effected on whatever C30s are still on dealer lots for the reasonable premium of $1,295. Surprisingly, the added power does not come at the expense of fuel economy, with the base C30's EPA ratings of 21 miles per gallon in the city and 29 mpg on the highway carrying over to this sportier version. The best thing about this car is that when driven in a normal fashion at least some of the time, it can easily hit its fuel economy numbers. We averaged just over 24 mpg during a week mixed with ideal highway and city drives, as well as a few wide-open-throttle test runs.

Like a true old school hot hatch, the Polestar Limited Edition only comes with a manual gearbox, and while the six-speed transmission's gearing is perfect for spirited driving, a shorter throw would make for a big improvement in our enjoyment. Still, there is little to complain about when getting on the throttle. Power comes in early for quick take-offs with minimal torque steer, and there is still plenty of power in reserve for passing at higher speeds. Volvo doesn't list performance specs for the Polestar-tuned C30, but it definitely feels faster than a stock C30, which is listed with a 0-60 time of 6.2 seconds when equipped with the manual transmission. Acceleration is definitely the C30's performance highlight, but this Volvo suffers, to some degree, when it comes to just about everything else you typically expect from a sport compact. The brakes are probably the biggest disappointment; Volvo has stuck with the standard C30's stock brakes. Even the handling doesn't seem up to snuff as the package never quite feels planted or confident enough in tight cornering maneuvers.

2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition engine

Opening the hood reveals one trouble spot: the auto industry's sorriest excuse for a strut tower brace.

Sure, the R-Design cars get a Sport Chassis that delivers stiffer springs and dampers as well as a quicker steering ratio, but this Polestar just doesn't feel as agile as it looks or needs to be. It's hard to say exactly what changes could be made to improve this, but opening the hood reveals one potential trouble spot: the auto industry's sorriest excuse for a strut tower brace. Yes, that thin piece of metal spanning the strut towers, which looks more like a hood prop rod pulled from an old 240, is Volvo's attempt at tightening up the chassis, but considering its flimsiness and narrow gauge, we're guessing it provides exactly zero torsional stiffness.

Even in spite of its questionable handling abilities, the most substantial downside of the Polestar Limited Edition is its price. In base form, this limited-production piece starts at $32,445, but tack on the Platinum Package that brings with it premium sound, and you're staring at our $35,545 as-tested price. Some of that price is certainly due to the car's 250-unit exclusivity, but for comparison's sake, that's almost $6,000 more than a fully loaded Focus ST, almost identical to what you'll pay for a base WRX STI and just under the starting price of track-ready Mini Cooper John Cooper Works GP. The C30's overly ambitious pricing has always been one of the culprits blamed for its slow sales, and the Polestar treatment only exacerbates the issue.

2013 Volvo R-Design Polestar Limited Edition rear 3/4 view

Before the Polestar Limited Edition came along, the Volvo C30's claim to fame may have been its starring role in a certain teeny bopper vampire movie, but this new model finally gives it some decent performance momentum just in time for it to reach the end of its production. Judging by what we experienced with this model and other newer Polestar-fettled models still in production, we're definitely looking forward to what the company's new performance arm can bring to future models when they get in earlier on the development process. And for the moment, while there's more time needed before Polestar matures to the level of, say, Mercedes-Benz AMG, BMW M or Cadillac V, it already offers more excitement for far less money than we've seen from the Infiniti IPL series.

With the hot hatch segment seemingly growing anew, it could be argued that the C30 R-Design is coming and going too early, a sales situation exacerbated by the fact that few buyers think of Volvo when they think of hatchbacks (let alone high-performance ones). From its unique styling to its mouthful of a name, the C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition has the kind of eccentric attitude that Volvo fans will love and others might fail to understand. And that's before they look at its price.

But even so, there's just something about about this Polestar that catches you off-guard, in a good way. That's the way its unique character helps leave a smile on your face after every drive. Even with all of its faults, Volvo has definitely saved the best C30 for last.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 55 Comments
      Drezz
      • 1 Year Ago
      I test-drove a C30 last year. Love the exterior, but the interior doesn't have much style--neither sporty nor luxurious. Part of that is the dated display. And as a details man, even the font for all the instruments and labels seems stodgy. Compared to the lively and sorted GTI, the manual trans didn't impress either. Too bad! Lots of scoot though. Bummer that Volvo isn't bringing the V40 stateside, which would fit the Volvo entry level spot perfectly.
      Patrick
      • 1 Year Ago
      That is one sad dashboard. You would think a $30k vehicle would be equipped with something better.
      FIDTRO
      • 1 Year Ago
      Love that blue.
      Avinash Machado
      • 1 Year Ago
      RIP to a great car.
      CJD
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'd much rather drive a Golf R. For the price you'd get so much more in terms of quality, parts, and materials. The interior on the C30 is depressing. It's no more exciting and inviting than an early 2000's Civic. The other problem with these Polestar vehicles are the concepts that release before the production version is unveiled. The C30 Polestar Concept was released and tested with a ~400HP! Many review videos were released way too soon, because the production version wasn't even close. Similarly, the S60 Polestar concept was tested with ~500HP ... think the production version will even be close? What a let down. Why can't Volvo commit and execute!
        ph001c
        • 1 Year Ago
        @CJD
        Drive, but the exterior styling of the Golf is invisible. And while I do like the available plaid interior that VW offers the interior of the C30 isn't depressing. It's Swedish! The materials and design are great, no more and no less than you need. Although a warmer interior color palette would be nice but the same is true of most German automakers as well.
      chromal
      • 1 Year Ago
      I really like the way it looks, and the specs on paper, but have never driven one, and wound up going with a 2012 mazdaspeed3 on price. But I will definitely be thinking about used C30s as the years march on...
      Calypso64
      • 1 Year Ago
      After a lot of research I decided to get one in Cosmic White (R series with dealer installed Polestar upgrade)...so far I could not be happier. A lot of what is out there today for that size/power combo is just "me too" looking and plain frigging boring to me personally.. I am in NorCal where GTI's, WRX's are a dime a dozen, most driven by boy racers . This is a more sophisticated ride, while still providing the fun factor I crave every day. The car is stunning to look at in real person and unique is so many ways. Acceleration, especially from a rolling start is shockingly satisfying (and that's coming from someone whose last 3 car were more than 350hp). 5 year warranty (if you were lucky enough to get one by ~January 3rd) cannot be beat...that helps with the value equation regarding higher base price... Best (by far) stock stereo system I have heard in a while. BTW, I commute 75 miles from Silicon Valley to Santa Cruz CA every work day (hence going up and down the Santa Cruz mountains) and manage to average 31.5 mpg ! And to boot, it takes REGULAR grade gas. Yeah, dash is unique, but so is the car, so deal with it. Only drawback is that the Pirelli P Z 18" can easily be overwhelmed with the power. Ride is tough, but seats are great. Trunk is small and actually harder than I thought to load. But I got used to it. Steering has good balance. Steering wheel's industrial design/ergo totally works. My 2 cents: Don't knock it until you see one IN PERSON.
      JF
      • 1 Year Ago
      I find the interior to be very poorly color coordinated. You have blue gauges, green screens and buttons and red/amber ambient lighting. Does not look good to me.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @JF
        Blue gauges turn green at night. the normal ambient lighting is green, so I don't know if Polestar is different. the only red is the hazzard button.
      Scooter
      • 1 Year Ago
      Volvo interiors are some of lowest tech around. Enjoy your 1990s calculator display on your $30k car.
        SethG
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Scooter
        They are also relatively intuitive and well thought out. Pick your poison.
      Shiftright
      • 1 Year Ago
      Love this car. Of course, it has to much character for the US market to understand it.
        Phontsolo
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Shiftright
        So true.
        wrxfrk16
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Shiftright
        Actually, character is the problem with the C30. It's gorgeous to look at, well appointed, and will almost certainly hold up like a Volvo should. But it's boring, a bit numb and dull. It doesn't drive like a Cooper S, or a GTI and that's why it's always been an also-ran.
      AnalogJesse
      • 1 Year Ago
      Looks great, but no reason for me to own one over the 2013 WRX I just bought. I almost settled for FWD in the Focus ST, but two consecutive Ford dealerships treated me like dirt, so I ponied up a few more bucks for a better, more reliable car.
        Dean Hammond
        • 1 Year Ago
        @AnalogJesse
        PFFFFFFFFFFFFFT, WRX more reliable than the ST....really, based exactly on WHAT.....
          SethG
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dean Hammond
          WRX reliability is not as great as typical Subaru but at least we know what it is. Hard to make a statement either way with regard to the ST. It's brand new and the Focus is relatively new as well.
          Dean Hammond
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dean Hammond
          you missed my point Hazdaz...if you wish to make blanket statements back it up, this guys annoyed because he was apparently \"mis-treated\" by Ford sales people when he wanted to look at the ST, so what happened?...no test drive, no blowout deal...what?....I\'ll tell you what, because of the the WRX is all of a sudden a better more dependable car...thats SPITE, nothing more nothing less...proof is in the lack of factual backup..I love the WRX, but it is what it is, a relatively unrefined car with a great drivetrain plastered with boy racer tack ons....THOSE are factual...
          Dean Hammond
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dean Hammond
          my point exactly, seems someone is attempting to justify their purchase through conjecture...love the Subbies, great performing car and known for dependability, the ecoboost 2.0 has been out for some while now and is even used by Land Rover...so to judge it less dependable than the WRX is ill founded, but lets compare the WRX with the ST...item number one...refinement..DOH, item two....road noise...DOH, three....accriements and content....DOH!.....nothing against the WRX at all...but its lacking in several departments...fantastic drivetrain though....
          wrxfrk16
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dean Hammond
          95% of Roo's made in the last ten years are still on the road. There's that. Even with the performance upgrades the WRX is right in line with any other. The chassis and body is all Impreza, the EJ25 motor is an excellent power plant and has been used in one form or another in both their production vehicles and rally cars for years. There's also the fact that WRX's have accrued well over six figure mileage and are still going strong. I sold my 03' a couple years ago with over a hundred thousand on the clock. Eight years of rock chips aside, the car ran like new. Motor ran like a top, trans was great, the fit and finish was still top notch. No squeaks, rattles, nothing was worn out or broken it was perfect. There's a sort of running joke among Subaru owners that the first hundred thousand is just breaking them in and if you care for them, it's true.
          Hazdaz
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dean Hammond
          Subaru has one of the highest owner loyalties of any car make - you don't get that from having shitty quality. And with Subarus you will know what might break because most of their components are time-tested over multiple models and years. Their cars might not be the prettiest on the road, nor have the absolute latest technology but they make solid, fun cars.
        wrxfrk16
        • 1 Year Ago
        @AnalogJesse
        That is still one of Ford's worst problems. Every time I've been to one in the last decade really, the salesmen have always been almost walking stereotypes. Shifty conmen trying to treat you like a five year old. Though I imagine the cars they've been forced to sell up to a couple of years ago had something to do with that...
      Joseph Burtoni
      • 1 Year Ago
      You have a 250 hp hot hatchback king and you shows us the navigation system? That is the exact reason I would buy a C30 Polestar.....Priorities.
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