What is the Volvo C30?
This small Volvo, discontinued in 2012, is still one of the smarter, more upmarket three-door hatchbacks around. A legacy of Volvo’s years as part of the Ford Premier Automotive Group, it shares its underpinnings with the Ford Focus, which was a good basis from which to develop this well-finished and distinctively Swedish contender in the premium-hatch sector.
Facelifted models from the 2010 model-year have a bolder front grille design and came with a wider and more adventurous choice of interior colours and finishes, plus more economical, lower-emissions engines: the 1.6D DRIVe with stop-start came down to 99g/km, exempting it from road tax, while returning nearly 75mpg, and the later D2 models are lower-emissions yet.
The initial engine range included somewhat mundane 1.6 and 1.8-litre petrols and the turbocharged T5 models (a 220bhp 2.4-litre at first; then a 227bhp 2.5), but the economical 1.6 and 2-litre diesels proved popular, including the top-spec 180bhp D5. The Ford Powershift twin-clutch six-speed auto gearbox was offered from 2008, again a desirable option.
The ride is firm but generally good in the mainstream models, though it can be unforgiving in the R-Design versions, which have lowered suspension, larger wheels and thinner tyres. R-Design specification also includes — besides lots of sporty trimmings — a quicker-ratio steering rack, which livens up the otherwise light and uninvolving steering and rather dull driving dynamics.
Volvo (now under Chinese ownership) later launched a five-door (V40) as well as the V50 estate, so the C30 can fly the flag for style over substance. It’s a four-seater only, and while the front seats are comfortable, the rear two are cramped and difficult to get to, and the 251-litre boot is very small. There is some under-floor storage space, and the rear seats fold flat to give nearly 900 litres — not that you’ll be able to fit much through the small and high-set glass tailgate, which was been designed for a retro resemblance to the old P1800 ES and 480 ES coupés rather than for any degree of practicality. Well, if you want a load-lugger, Volvo has made plenty of estate cars.
Six airbags, stability control and anti-whiplash head restraints plus a five-star score in the Euro NCAP crash tests maintain Volvo’s long-standing reputation for safety, and equipment levels are generous. The C30 was intended to rival the BMW 1-series and Audi A3, after all, so it was suitably specced to take on the Germans.
The C30 does remain expensive for what it is – it feels worth it, though, and most of its owners appear to be have been delighted with it, which is what matters.
What to look out for when buying a used Volvo C30
The C30 is solidly built, but it hasn’t been entirely trouble-free. Problems frequently reported include an antilock braking fault, clunky manual gearshifts (dealt with in a recall), an issue with oil levels in the D5 (again, addressed in a recall) and turbo problems with the 1.6-litre diesel engine, as well as some misfiring, electrical glitches and dashboard rattles. The diesels’ particulate filters don’t take well to a lot of low-speed around-town work, either: owners warn that they are prone to clogging up.
The C30 has had a lengthy list of recalls for a variety of problems, so make sure any car you’re considering has had all the necessary work done. These have included rectification of braking faults; replacement of rear wheel studs to prevent the wheels becoming loose; leaking power steering fluid; floor mats that get caught under the accelerator pedal; short-circuiting engine fans leading to a risk of engine fires (twice); and so on. Full details can be found at VOSA .
The one to buy
Volvo C30 1.6 DRIVe 1.6 D SE
- 1560cc, 4 cylinders
- 107bhp @ 4000rpm
- 177 lb ft @ 1700rpm
- 5-speed manual
- 0-62mph in 10.9sec
- Top Speed:
- 74.3mpg (combined)
- Road Tax Band:
- L 4266mm, W 1782mm, H 1447mm