First drive: Volvo C30 Version 2.0

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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