The C30 utilizes Volvo's proven 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine, here turbocharged and producing a healthy 227 horsepower, along with a more important 236 pound-feet of torque beginning at just 1,800 rpm. The turbo engine actually does very well with the automatic; the standard six-speed manual is also pleasant but a bit notchy.
The engine has a "light-pressure turbo setup, just 0.53 atmosphere at full boost,” reports Car and Driver, adding that "much of the C30's joy comes from its coordinated responses." The power ramps up quickly, however, in the lower gears when you put the pedal to the metal, and getting from 0-60 mph takes a mere 6.7 seconds. Edmunds remarks that "the turbo is only lightly stressed so lag is never a problem," and the engine has a "distinctive five-cylinder hum."
Motor Trend asserts that "the C30 is the sharpest tool in Volvo's shed." The reviewer, however, notes that "the C30 could use a raspier exhaust note" to better match its driving character.
Because the C30 sends a lot of power to the front wheels, it can be a bit challenged for traction when accelerating hard on bumpy surfaces at low speed, but overall the C30 handles in a solid and secure way. 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. Edmunds clarifies that the C30 is not a sports car, but it's "capable in the manner of Audi's A3," with handling that's "safe, predictable and blessed with plenty of grip.” The C30 grips the road well and feels balanced, "though fast turns can induce nose plow," says ConsumerGuide. The steering feels precise, and the brakes are strong and responsive. Ride quality isn't bad either; "You'll get sure-footed reflexes paired with no-complaints ride smoothness, at least on the acne-free blacktops," says Car and Driver.