Volvo’s C30 marries sportiness and functionality
Though it shares its structure with the Mazda3, everything else about the new C30 hatchback is pure Volvo. It sports the trademark front-to-rear wide shoulder look, accentuated in the back by shapely tail lamps and a glass tailgate reminiscent of the old P1800ES model.
While the rest of the world gets an assortment of small gasoline and diesel engines, only two are offered in Canada: the 2.4 and T5. Both are five cylinder units. The former puts out 170 hp in naturally aspirated form while our tester came equipped with the low-pressure, 2.5-litre turbocharged T5 unit.
Both can be fitted with either a 5-speed automatic or a 5-speed manual (with the 2.4) and 6-speed manual transmission (on the T5).
Although all-wheel-drive is available on other offerings based on this chassis, Volvo chose to offer the C30 only in front-wheel-drive, mainly to keep costs down.
There’s lots of room inside for four, thanks mostly to the generous headroom of the hatchback design. The back seats are actually slightly centred because of the car’s tapered hindquarters, but it does present a better view forward for rear seat passengers.
The ultra-thin floating centre stack design is also a familiar Volvo touch, borrowed from its S40 sedan/V50 wagon corporate siblings. In the C30, it’s available in four different versions, including a new, Virtual White — inspired by the modern glossy surfaces of computers — and a cool Surf-Patterned Aluminum, lifted from the original C30 auto show concept car design.
All these styling and interior details are welcome, but this Volvo’s built to be driven. So, how does it fare?
We drove the T5 version mated with a 6-speed manual ‘box.
First, the driving position is very good and, in typical Volvo fashion, the seats are among the best in the business. Visibility all round is notable, as is the way in which major and secondary controls and switches fall easily to hand. This is clearly a car that would be easy to live with on a day-to-day basis.
Start the engine and that characteristic 5-cylinder burble takes on a hint of understated performance. The turbo, combined with the exhaust system, muffles the sound a bit, but the powertrain still sounds great.
Power is progressive and widely available from the 2,000 rpm mark upwards. The shifter is easy to operate and has a positive feel.
The C30 feels confident and stable through the twisties, too — the whole structure feeling rock solid and noise free over bumps.
Handling in normal conditions, or just pushing the car slightly, is very good. But some composure is lost when things are taken close to the limit, thanks mostly to the weight of the 5-cylinder engine transversely mounted over the front wheels.
All in all, though, the C30 comes across as an almost ideal urban lifestyle machine.
2007 Volvo C30 T5