Review

Volvo C30 hatchback (2007-2012)

Volvo C30 hatchback (2007-2012)

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • Stylish, distinctive
  • Impressive safety credentials
  • Build quality and interior are superb
Cons
  • No longer on sale
  • Only available as a three-door...
  • ...with only four seats and a small boot

“The Volvo C30 is a handsome three-door hatchback that looks great, but a tiny boot and four-seat layout count against it.”

The Volvo C30 was the brand's attempt at breaking out of its reputation for building boxy and conservatively styled saloon and estate cars. It certainly made an impact when it launched in 2006 and helped to transform Volvo's image into something altogether more desirable.

Despite this, the Volvo C30 was a relatively slow seller in the UK, and after being revised in 2010 with a more rounded front end, it was dropped in 2012.

Still, the C30 offers an interesting, rare and left-field alternative to the likes of the Ford Focus and Honda Civic. Just as long as you’re not expecting bags of space, because its boot is small and there are only two seats in the back.

There was a wide range of engines, going from a 1.6-litre diesel to a 2.5-litre turbocharged petrol. Five and six-speed manual and five and six-speed automatic (called Geartronic) gearboxes were available.

The gap left by the C30 was eventually filled by the Volvo V40, which took on much of the C30's sharp styling. Thanks to its more practical five-door configuration and a bigger boot, it has far wider appeal.

Here's what we thought about the car in 2013...

MPG, running costs & CO2

4 / 5

Diesels are cheap to run; fun petrol cars are thirsty

The most efficient version of the C30, the Drive-E, claimed 78.5mpg with CO2 emissions of 94g/km. That was followed by the C30 D2, which had official figures of 65.7mpg and 114g/km. The 1.6 and 2.0-litre petrol engines were fairly evenly matched when it came to running costs, with 37-40mpg claimed, while emissions of 167 and 177g/km meant road tax was quite expensive.

The 2.4-litre petrol engine wasn’t a stellar performer, and huge thirst means it’s hard to recommend. The T5 model was even more expensive to run – buyers can expect around 25mpg on average.

Engines, drive & performance

3.9 / 5

Precise and composed on winding roads

The C30 feels stable and comfortable at speed. Its steering is a little heavier than you’d a Ford Focus’, but it’s precise. The trouble is that the C30 rarely feels sporty. A racier Focus or Golf will be more fun more of the time.

There was a wide range of engines on offer. The 1.6-litre petrol needs to be worked hard, so unless running costs are a real concern, you may be better off looking for a 2.0-litre petrol, where the extra power translates into improved drivability.

If you’re happy to pay extra, then the diesels are worth hunting down. The 1.6- litre comes with 108 or 114bhp, and while neither is particularly fast, they are smooth. The 2.0-litre diesels, with either 148 or 175bhp, are far quicker. There’s also a 2.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine, which is genuinely rapid.

Interior & comfort

3.9 / 5

The ride is quite bumpy at low speeds

As with other Volvos of the time, the C30 has a centre console that appears to ‘float’. It’s a nice feature; far better than the mass of buttons that control the car’s stereo, air-conditioning and navigation systems. They’re too small and hard to use, particularly at night.

The C30 is comfortable and quiet, and while its seats are firm, they’re fine places to sit on a long journey. There’s a reasonable amount of wind noise around the door mirrors, but the engines are quiet – with the exception of the 2.0-litre diesel, which rattles at low speed.

Practicality & boot space

3.8 / 5

The boot is small and access is limited

If you want space, then look elsewhere. The C30 only has four seats and it feels cramped and quite claustrophobic in the back. The boot measures only 251 litres, which was smaller than all of the C30’s competitors. Even with the seats folded, it could only muster 894 litres, which was way behind the likes of the Renault Megane Coupe. Practicality was hindered further by a fabric load cover that doesn’t retract and a small boot opening, which was rather awkward due to its sloping sides.

There's a central storage area behind that floating centre console, which is handy, but the door pockets are slim and there are few other storage spaces around the interior.

Reliability & safety

4.1 / 5

Good reputation and lots of safety equipment

Volvo forged its reputation on safety, so it’ll come as no surprise that the C30 scored the full five-star rating in Euro NCAP crash tests. Standard kit includes

front, side and curtain airbags, whiplash protection, electronic stability control and a side-impact-protection system. Should the car be specified with optional Bluetooth connectivity, the C30’s Intelligent Driver system stops non-essential calls coming through when the car is accelerating or braking heavily, to avoid distraction. Build quality rivals BMW and Audi, while Volvo came 10th in the 2012 manufacturers’ chart of our Driver Power customer satisfaction survey.

Price, value for money & options

4 / 5

Now good value compared to rivals

The C30 wasn’t particularly cheap compared to the likes of the BMW 1 Series and Audi A3, but as a used purchase it looks like good value. All models featured climate control, electric windows and an MP3-compatible stereo. Although the model range varied throughout the car’s life, you can expect most SE models to pack cruise control and automatic wipers, while SE Sport models came with a bodykit, a leather steering wheel and 18-inch alloys.

SE Lux versions added leather, heated front seats, an electrically adjustable driver's seat and electric folding door mirrors. The R-Design was the top of the range, featuring an even sportier bodykit and lowered suspension as well as an optional power upgrade from Volvo’s performance arm Polestar.

What the others say

3.4 / 5
based on 4 reviews
4 / 5
"The range will continue to include an eco-friendly DRIVe version, with a 1.6-litre diesel hooked up to a stop-start system. This promises 74mpg, CO2 emissions of only 99g/km and a £16,785 price tag, and should appeal to both private and business motorists."
3 / 5
"The C30 may be Volvo's smallest car, but that doesn't mean it has skimped on the interior fittings. The DRIVe model, however, is amazingly frugal when paired with Volvo's engine stop-start system. Resale values are pretty strong, too."
3.5 / 5
"It's comfortable on the move and refined with a high quality cabin plus there's a wide range of engines available including the sporty T5. The DRIVe range of 1.6-litre diesels launched late in 2008 results in low emissions and running costs."
12 / 20
"Fans of The Saint will recall that Volvo has some previous form in the area of impractical but cool small cars. Here's another. Looks great, carries nowt."
Last updated 
26 Feb 2016
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