The 2010 Volvo C30 is, in some respects, a truncated two-door-hatchback variant of the S40 sedan and V50 wagon. The similarities to those other models really only hold from the front.
Edmunds reports that although the "front end is instantly recognizable" with contemporary Volvo styling, "the unusual hatchback draws inspiration from the classic 1800ES of the 1970s." Motor Trend calls the C30 the "wild child of the Volvo family," also noting that while the C30's front end resembles that of the S40 and V50, its rear end has Volvo's cult-classic shooting-brake signature all over it.
One of the keys to the C30's aggressive proportions is that the wheelbase is identical to the sedan, but Volvo designers chop off 8.8 inches from the back. Car and Driver compares the Volvo C30 to "an S40 sedan made over with a butt tuck...and all-new clothes." In addition to shaving off about 200 pounds, "chopping off the tail has the visual effect of exaggerating the front overhang, amplifying the wedge shape created by the beltline rising as it seeps toward the tail."
In back, the neat, familiar Volvo look yields to a broad-shouldered, rakish silhouette, with a unique, blacked-out glass hatch. Large, flashy alloy wheels and lipped wheel wells with dark lower-body and window trim help give the whole design look more like a fastback coupe from the side. Automobile Magazine notes that "unlike the S40, the C30's front fenders swell slightly at the wheels, and the rear shoulder is deeper than on any other Volvo." The reviewer also raves about how the "taillights trace that shoulder shape, framing a very cool glass hatchback."
Sophisticated and unlike most other small cars inside as well, the C30 manages to wow with its interior design. There's a "floating" center stack, a thin panel where radio and climate system controls are located, allowing an open space with storage just behind. Motor Trend points to the “now ubiquitous T-Tec upholstery and floating center console,” which have made their way into several other Volvo models at this point.