2008 Volvo C30 Review


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2008 Volvo C30
THE AUTO PAGE
by
JOHN HEILIG

SPECIFICATIONS


Model: Volvo C30
Engine: 2.5-liter turbocharged I5
Horsepower/Torque: 227 hp @ 5,000 rpm/236 lb.-ft. @ 1,500-5,000 rpm
Transmission: 5-speed Geartronic automatic with Auto-stick function
Wheelbase: 103.9 in.
Length x Width x Height: 167.4 x 70.2 x 57.0 in.
Tires: 205/50VR17
Cargo volume: 12.9/20.2 cu. ft. (rear seat backs up/down)
Economy: 19 mpg city/27 mpg highway/18.7 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 15.9 gal.
Price: $25,170 (includes $745 destination charge and $1,725 in options)

The Bottom Line – The C30is a departure for Volvo. It isn’t a sedan, nor is it a sleek coupe. Rather, it’s a coupe with a hatchback that is fun to drive as well as economical and practical. While it shares a basic design with the S40, it is 8.5 inches shorter than the S40 and hundreds of pounds lighter. It’s also more fun.

Volvo’s car line has been growing, both in numbers and in size. Even the compact S40 is getting bigger. But the Swedish car maker’s latest edition sends them in the other direction. The C30 is not just a smaller version of the C70 coupe and convertible. It’s its own master, with some S40 thrown in with a bit of the old P1800 to boot. The result is a car that’s fun to drive, economical, and has a friendlier price tag than most Volvos.

I was slightly surprised when I saw the C30 sitting in my driveway. I had expected the bigger brother, but here was a cross between a coupe and a station wagon. Actually, the “wagon” part of the equation is a hatchback that raises to offer nearly 13 cubic feet of cargo volume, with an addition eight cubic feet when the rear seat backs are folded. This would be an ideal vehicle for my friend who had a two-door SUV with the rear seats backs folded to hold his golf clubs.

Under the hood of wither the Version 1.0 or Version 2.0 is a turbocharged 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder mounted transversely. With 227 peak horsepower and a torque range that extends from 1,500 to 5,000 rpm, there’s plenty of oomph under the hood. Hooked to a 5-speed automatic/manual transmission and there’s a lot of fun to boot.

Granted, we used the C30 in automatic mode most of the time and had no problems with either performance or economy. On our favorite hillclimb, though, we shifted over into manual and flicked the lever forward or rearward to upshift or downshift, respectively. The shifter is well-located and fell right in my right hand when I wanted it. Shifts were nearly instantaneous, which is necessary on my hillclimb, and playing with the manual was a ball.

I also discovered on the hillclimb that the steering was light. I didn’t feel it was too light, but on a winding road the ease of turning the wheel was a pleasure.

The fairly conventional suspension gave minimal lean, even on hard cornering. On the other side of the equation, this slight softness provided for a comfortable ride.

Volvo is one of the first manufacturers to go with a plastic “key.” The fob is key-shaped. You insert it into a slot in the dash and twist it to start just as with conventional cars.

Front seats offer decent side support, but it could be better for a car that handles as well as the C30 does. The front seats tip and slide forward for access to the rear. In the rear, legroom is tight, but headroom is very good thanks to the unique shape of the car. The rear bucket-type seats are positioned toward the center to give a good forward view and provide storage space in the side panels.

I’m not a super fan of high-tech audio systems in cars. I prefer two-knob radios with AM and FM and XM/Sirius if it’s offered. I don’t like radios that are so esoteric that you need a degree to operate it. So I liked the C30’s two-button radio. It was simple to tune and lock in stations I liked. It gave great sound and it didn’t take up too much room. It has an AUX jack to plug in MP3 players.

The heater is great. Nuff said.

Although the C30 is at the small end of Volvo’s line, it is a nice, if unusual, package. It’s not as sleek as the C70, but it has a lot to offer.

2008 The Auto Page Syndicate

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