Reviews

2011 Volvo C30 Driving Impressions


The C30 is the smallest Volvo and the most athletic. Volvo has succeeded in its mission to build a fun-to-drive, sporty car.

The turbocharged five-cylinder engine provides 227 horsepower, and 236 pound-feet of torque all the way from 1500 to 5000 rpm. That means the C30 has good power both off the line and in highway passing maneuvers. The engine is responsive, with a minimum of turbo lag. Torque steer, felt through the steering wheel as a slight pull to one side under hard acceleration, is well checked, which is impressive for a front-wheel drive car with this much power.

With the standard 6-speed manual transmission, the C30 is capable of sprinting from 0-60 mph in just 6.2 seconds. That's quite quick. The shifter throws are long and rubbery, but it is easy to shift.

With the optional automatic transmission, 0-60 mph comes in 6.6 seconds, which is still quite quick. The automatic transmission kicks down quickly when extra power is needed. It has a manual shiftgate for more driver control, but the C30 lacks the steering wheel-mounted paddles found in some of its competitors.

The turbocharged five-cylinder engine offers a nice balance of power and fuel economy. It gets an EPA-estimated 21/29 mpg City/Highway with the manual transmission, and an even better 21/30 mpg with the automatic.

On the road, the C30 handles well, with flat cornering and fine balance in quick changes of direction. Steering in both models is direct, but it could stand to be a little quicker in the C30. Slow steering and big steering wheels are traditionally part of the Volvo driving experience.

For 2011, the T5 R-Design suspension has been retuned for sharper handling. The Sport Chassis is a new addition to the C30 T5 R-Design for 2011 providing enhanced chassis dynamics and steering reflexes. Spring stiffness has been increased by 30 percent while the dampers feature a new mono-tube design that build-up pressure quicker for 20 percent increased low-speed damping. Steering is more precise with stiffer bushings and a 10 percent quicker steering ratio. The R-Design model allows more road feel through the steering wheel and its responses are sharper.

Both models have a firm ride, but the base T5 is smoother. While neither model feels harsh, the R-Design is more prone to pounding over sharp bumps. The T5 is close to the surprisingly refined VW GTI for ride quality, but the R-Design has a rougher ride. The C30 looks better with the R-Design's body-color aero kit and 18-inch wheels, but you'll want to try it before you buy, especially if you live in an area with bad roads.

The brakes have good pedal feel and fine stopping power. Brake Assist and Electronic Brake-force Distribution assist the driver in emergency stopping situations. While the C30 is light on luxury content, it's heavy on safety content and engineering.

Make an Inquiry

;