- Confident handling
- Good, strong acceleration
- Visually pleasing
- Radio and HVAC controls
- Tiny backseat is like a 2+2
- Disappointing cargo space
The 2009 Volvo C30 connects "small" and "premium" in most of the right ways in an attractive, high-quality hatchback.
The Volvo C30 is the opposite of what TheCarConnection.com's team usually finds from Volvo products. The C30 is an attractive hatch with a unique, retro-styled rear end and lots of personality. Introduced last year, the C30 is the Swedish manufacturer's first modern foray into the world of premium compacts.
The nose of the C30 resembles a current S40 or V50, but it's the unique hatch glass and the broad shoulders of the rear fenders that give the car its distinctive stance.
The 2009 Volvo C30 is, in some respects, a truncated two-door-hatchback variant of the S40 sedan and V50 wagon, meaning you'll find a similar driving personality. The C30 utilizes Volvo's proven 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder engine, here turbocharged and producing a healthy 227 horsepower.
Handling is solid and secure, but the C30 drives "bigger" than it is. In the opinion of members of TheCarConnection.com team, Volvo tends to engineer the edginess out of its suspensions. The wheelbase, a long 104 inches, is shared with the S40 and V50—which results in a good ride and surprisingly stable, relaxed high-speed cruising. In following, the C30 has a heft that make it feel more secure but less nimble than some small cars; the suspension is quite firm, though, resulting in jarring jolts over potholes and some boominess on coarse surfaces.
The C30 is a small package that looks anything but cheap. It shares its interior with the S40, including the floating center stack where the radio and climate system controls are located. The base sound system has 160 watts and is HD Radio compatible. Front seats are comfortable, but tall drivers might find themselves surprisingly short on space, as the sunroof cuts precious headroom. The rear seats—configured more as two separate contoured positions with scaled-down proportions—are snug, and adults will complain even if they can wedge in.
Volvo's lane-departure warning system is optional, but in typical Volvo fashion safety equipment is abundant, with side curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, and stability control standard.
Although the C30 comes with a wide range of standard features, its options list is extensive, though it doesn't include all the features you'd expect. For instance, cruise control, Sirius Satellite Radio, and a Bluetooth calling interface—items now required by many buyers—are optional. Other options include a navigation system, high-end Dynaudio sound, HID headlamps, various wheel designs, and trims such as Nordic Light Oak.
For 2009 Volvo created a new R-Design model. Prompted by positive customer response for the limited edition C30 R-Design package introduced late in the 2008 model year, the C30 R-Design will be the top model in the range for 2009. Standard features include a special front grille with matte silver surround and R-Design logo, a sport steering wheel, sport pedals, and R-Design watch dial instrument cluster.