The 2012 Volvo C30 is relatively unique in that it is a hatchback model that’s only available in a less practical three-door bodystyle.
Volvo is set to finally unveil a more versatile V40 spin-off with five doors, though there’s a strong chance that it won’t be offered in the U.S.
Nevertheless, if you can live with the sporty three-door body of the C30, the car has a lot to offer, especially in terms of style, performance, and Swedish charm.
Here in the U.S. the vehicle is offered exclusively with a turbocharged 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine. The engine’s peak output is a generous--for a hatch--227 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque, and it can be matched to either a standard six-speed manual transmission or optional five-speed automatic. We suggest sticking with the automatic as it offers smooth and decisive shifts while the manual is a bit notchy.
Power delivery is smooth and linear and the C30’s sporty tuning helps make the most of it. This is especially true for the hardcore C30 R-Design model, which in addition to some styling and equipment upgrades also comes with a host of chassis mods. Stiffer bushings allow for more precise steering and the steering ratio is lower, giving 10 percent faster response to driver input. Spring stiffness is also increased by 30 percent on the C30 R-Design and the car’s mono-tube dampers and roll stabilizers have been made stiffer.
The cost of all that performance is fuel economy, which rates at 21/29 mpg city/highway for the most fuel efficient model. Note, all models come with front-wheel drive exclusively.
Inside, Volvo’s trademark ‘floating’ center stack features and is joined by some premium elements such as aluminum door handles, available leather trim, a climate package, and a preferred package with rain-sensor wipers and headlight washers. The R-Design package adds a sporty bodykit, Pirelli tires, xenon HID headlamps, and a hard-drive-based nav system with live traffic.
For taller drivers, the C30's rather low roofline and rakish design does result in a shortage of headroom--if you’re six feet or over you may find yourself surprisingly short on space. Also, there are two rear seats though they're snug and scaled-down and best kept for children.
Overall, considering the level of performance, we think that the C30 makes great sense given its reasonable $24,950 starting price.
For more details on the 2012 Volvo C30, including a close look at the car’s safety, styling, quality, and performance, check out the full review on our sister site The Car Connection.