2012 C30 New Car Test Drive
The Volvo C30 is an attractive premium compact that's practical and fun to drive. The C30 comes with Volvo's safety engineering and is loaded with safety features. The Volvo C30 competes with the Audi A3 and Volkswagen GTI, sporty premium compact cars.
For 2012, there are mostly only package changes, with the standard Bluetooth now adding audio streaming. The current-generation C30 was launched as a 2007 model. Styling was revised for 2011.
The biggest news for 2012 is that Volvo's performance group, Polestar Motorsport, now offers an upgrade for the C30. For $1295, your Volvo dealer will download software into the car's ECU (electronic control unit), that increases the horsepower from 227 to 250, and the torque from 236 pound-feet to 273, with no decrease in fuel mileage. We tested a Polestar C30 R-Design, and the increase in acceleration is significant at the seat of your pants.
The 2012 Volvo C30 is offered in two models, the C30 T5 and the more upscale C30 T5 R-Design, which comes with leather upholstery. The Volvo C30 T5 R-Design is designed for sharper handling response, with stiffer springs, special shocks, stiffer bushings and a quicker steering ratio.
All C30 models come with a 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder engine rated at 227 horsepower and a choice of 6-speed manual or 5-speed automatic Geartronic with Auto-stick. The C30 is front-wheel drive.
Fuel economy is an EPA-estimated 21/30 mpg City/Highway with the automatic, 21/29 mpg with the manual gearbox.
We found the C30 fun to drive, with good steering feel. It stays flat while cornering and is nimble enough to slice through traffic. The turbocharged five-cylinder engine provides plenty of punch to keep the fun coming. Ride quality is generally good, though it can become a little hard with the available 18-inch wheels.
Inside, the C30 offers a pleasant, fairly roomy cabin for four. The standard cloth upholstery is a unique fabric that resembles wetsuit material. Room up front is plentiful, and the controls are easy to spot and use. The two-door body style makes getting into the backseat a bit of a hassle, but the rear seat is comfortable for two passengers. Those rear seats fold down to create a large rear hatch area with lots of carrying capacity.
A two-door hatchback, the C30 shares most of its mechanicals with the Volvo S40 compact sedan. While similar in character, the C30 has less standard equipment, allowing Volvo to make the C30 its lowest-priced car.
The 2012 C30 T5 ($24,950) comes standard with cloth upholstery; air conditioning; cruise control; keyless entry; leather-wrapped steering wheel; leather and aluminum shift knob; leather parking brake cover, tilt/telescoping steering wheel with audio controls; height-adjustable manual driver's seat; trip computer; outside temperature display; power windows, locks and mirrors; 50/50 split-folding rear seat; 160-watt AM/FM/CD stereo with six speakers; Bluetooth hands-free phone interface with audio streaming; and 205/50/R17 all-season tires on alloy wheels.
The C30 T5 R-Design ($27,450) upgrades with two-tone leather/Flextech upholstery, aluminum interior trim, and blue-faced instruments. Outside, R-Design is distinguished by additional bright trim and body-color (rather than black) wheel flares, sill extensions, and fog lights. R-Design gets a sports suspension complemented by 215/45R18 tires.
Leather seating is optional ($1200). A 6-speed manual transmission is standard, and a 5-speed automatic is an option ($1250). Premium Plus ($2000) adds power glass moonroof, power front seats, and LED daytime running lights. and Platinum ($4400) adds navigation and a premium sound system with satellite radio. The Climate Package ($900) has heated front seats, headlight washers, rain-sensing wipers, Electronic Climate Control with an Interior Air Quality System and a humidity sensor. Stand-alone options include Volvo's Blind Spot Information System ($700), Sirius/XM Satellite Radio ($400), and Xenon headlamps ($800).
Safety features include the mandated dual front airbags, plus side-curtain airbags for head protection, and side-impact airbags for torso protection. Active safety features consist of anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control (ESC), Electronic Brake-Force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist. The optional BLIS Blind Spot Information System can help alert the driver to a vehicle in the blind spot when signaling to change lanes.