Second Gear: Volvo C30 - Metro US

Second Gear: Volvo C30

The C30 is Volvo’s compact three-door hatch, which the Swedish automaker launched on Canadian shores for 2007 to battle the likes of the Audi A3, Mini Cooper, VW GTI, Mercedes B200 and others. Available solely as a four-seat model with front-wheel drive, the C30 brought Volvo’s reputation for safety, uniqueness and refinement into the upscale hatch segment.

In the used market, shoppers can consider one of two engines for their C30. Standard was a 2.4-litre inline five-cylinder backed by a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic. This particular C30 designation was named the ‘2.4i’, and it developed 168 horsepower.

The C30 ‘T5’ got a turbocharged 2.5 litre five-cylinder engine, good for 218 horsepower and fitted with a six-speed manual. Newer models got a slightly-increased 227 horsepower.

Available or standard feature content included a tilt and telescoping steering wheel, a sunroof, automatic climate control, Volvo’s unique waterfall console, antilock brakes, full power accessories, a driver computer, and an 8-speaker stereo with satellite radio.

Bluetooth connectivity, a universal remote and an auto-dimming rearview mirror were available, too.

Numerous accessories and trim packages let shoppers fine-tune the C30 to virtually any taste — so finding a model just right for you shouldn’t be a problem.

What Owners Like: Ride and handling are almost unanimously highly rated amongst C30 owners. Phrases like ‘fun to drive,’ ‘exciting’ and ‘sporty’ were frequently used as descriptors. Shifter feel and a solid, nicely-trimmed cabin are also raved about. One owner in an online forum even called the C30 ‘the best car nobody’s ever heard of.’

What Owners Hate: Heavy doors, a long reach for the seatbelts and hefty fuel consumption with the turbo engine are the more typical owner complaints. Some owners also wish for an extra set of doors for easier access to the rear seats.

Common Issues: The C30 isn’t a sales superstar—so the availability of consumer-reported reliability information from the usual sources is fairly sparse. In checks of the usual online forums, things on the dependability front looked fairly solid. A few reports of leaky sunroofs popped up, as did a few sporadic reports of moody alarm and immobilizer systems.

Some digging revealed age-related complaints about broken floor mat anchors, easily-chipped paint, a rattly rear window, and a trim-piece around the parking brake that often becomes loose. Nothing major.

Avoid any model with a manual transmission that exhibits grinding or slippage, which could indicate a problem with the clutch or gearbox. Finally, be sure to scrutinize the vehicle’s paint, upholstery and interior trim for signs of excessive wear. If you find any, call it into pricing negotiations.

Importantly, the C30 seems to be almost totally free of the typical electrical-related complaints that plague many of its German competitors as they age. If these reports are any indication, the C30 should prove more worry-free than key competitors from Volkswagen and Mini.

The Verdict: End of the day, a well-maintained C30 should prove unique, fun, enjoyable and reliable.

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