2010 Volvo C30 Review

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The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
November 13, 2009

The 2010 Volvo C30 offers a look and feel that's unlike any other hatchback, but it sacrifices plenty of practicality to do so.

To help you find the most useful information on the 2010 Volvo C30, the experts at TheCarConnection.com have combed the Web and hand-selected some of the best, most-useful quotes and observations from other review sources. In addition, here in this authoritative Bottom Line, the editors have provided you with firsthand observations and behind-the-wheel impressions—and looked at how the C30 matches up to alternatives.

In just a decade or so, Volvo has made an about-face with respect to design, going from boxy and chiseled to sleek and rakish. One of the current models that most demonstrates that change is the Volvo C30, an attractive hatch with a unique, retro-styled rear end and lots of personality.

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. 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 seem more like a fastback coupe from the side.

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. 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. 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. It’s also quite economical—as high as 21 mpg city, 30 highway with the automatic.

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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. The base sound system is quite good, with 160 watts and HD Radio compatibility, but the high-end Dynaudio system is better than you'll find in any other small hatchback. Front seats have an attractive two-tone look, with contrast stitching, and there are soft-touch areas for the elbows. However, the interior is tight; 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. The cargo space is a bit disappointing, too, with a narrow opening through the glass hatch and a high cargo floor. Such is the sacrifice for fashion.

Despite the racier image of the C30, Volvo's reputation for top-notch safety doesn't dip in any way. In typical Volvo fashion, safety equipment is abundant, with side curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, and stability control standard; Volvo's lane-departure warning system is optional. Although the federal government hasn't crash-tested the C30, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has given the C30 its top "good" rating in each of its tests, along with its Top Safety Pick designation, which few small cars have typically earned.

The Volvo C30 lineup was reconfigured last year, with the addition of a style-centric R-Design model. For 2010, the C30 gets more standard features, but the custom-build program that enables various extra features and add-ons has been discontinued. For 2010, a number of features that had been optional previously are now standard; a trip computer, cruise control, and a Bluetooth hands-free calling interface are all currently included on the base C30 T5, while the C30 R-Design gets newly standard fog lamps. The C30 R-Design model offers a more aggressive look, with different front and rear aerodynamic work, along with all sorts of sporty cues, but it's also something of a real sport package, boasting dynamic chassis control and upgraded wheels with Pirelli P Zero Rosso tires. Other options on the C30 lineup include a moonroof, leather upholstery, a navigation system with real-time traffic, a climate package, and a preferred package with active HID headlamps.

9

2010 Volvo C30

Styling

The 2010 Volvo C30 has a racier shape than just about any other small hatchback, and its interior styling doesn't disappoint.

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.

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8

2010 Volvo C30

Performance

The 2010 Volvo C30 is no sports car, but its performance is satisfying for most without having any ragged edges.

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.

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7

2010 Volvo C30

Comfort & Quality

The 2010 Volvo C30 isn't very spacious, but it impresses with pleasing appointments and reasonable comfort for those in the front seats.

The 2010 Volvo C30 offers an interior that's very impressive in terms of design, materials, and trims but impractically confined for some needs. Such is the sacrifice for fashion.

Front seats have an attractive two-tone look, with contrast stitching, and there are soft-touch areas for the elbows. However, the interior is tight; tall drivers might find themselves surprisingly short on space, as the sunroof cuts precious headroom. The front bucket seats are firmly bolstered, which may "prompt complaints from the broad beamers among us," according to Car and Driver. Shorter people might find an unusually long reach to access the shoulder belt, especially with the seat adjusted forward. ConsumerGuide notes that there's "ample headroom and legroom" in front, and the seats "are firm yet comfortable and nicely bolstered for spirited cornering." TheCarConnection.com's editors have suggested that the restrictive moonroof design could make the difference.

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, according to the experience of TheCarConnection.com. That makes us wonder what Automobile Magazine was thinking when it declares that the “bucket-style back seats are actually roomy enough to comfortably seat a six-footer.” Other reviewers are more in line with what we've seen. Edmunds notes that a pair of six-footers will "struggle to sit in tandem." Car and Driver specifies that there's space for two passengers in the back as long as "their inseam doesn't stretch more than 30 inches."

The cargo space is a bit disappointing, too, with a narrow opening through the glass hatch and a high cargo floor. Trunk capacity is modest, and golfers will have problems stowing their clubs, although the rear seats fold down to increase cargo space. And the small, oddly shaped glass hatch resists loading and unloading. ConsumerGuide points out that the hatch "leaves cargo plainly visible from the outside—and no cargo cover is available." Kelley Blue Book reports, "Folding the seatbacks increases cargo capacity from 12.9 to 20.2 cubic feet." Motor Trend estimates the cargo space to be smaller (8.2 cubic feet) with the seats folded up and larger (30.9 cubic feet) with the seats folded down.

Reviewers don't leave many comments about materials and build quality for the 2010 Volvo C30, but Motor Trend declares that the interior is "an aesthetically and ergonomically pleasing place to conduct the business of driving."

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. Especially with the R-Design's stockier wheels and tires, Volvo’s tuning "makes for an always-firm ride with abrupt vertical motions over sharp bumps," says ConsumerGuide.

Review continues below
9

2010 Volvo C30

Safety

Volvo doesn't let more expressive styling and performance get in the way of safety in the 2010 C30.

Despite the racier image of the C30, Volvo's reputation for top-notch safety isn't betrayed in any way. In typical Volvo fashion, safety equipment is abundant, with side curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, and stability control standard; Volvo's lane-departure warning system is optional.

Motor Trend notes that "in addition to the standard bevy of front, side and side-curtain airbags, the C30 protects with seatbelt pretensioners for all four seats, a whiplash protection system, a side-impact protection system, and dynamic stability traction control." Road & Track calls the available Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) "spiffy."

ConsumerGuide notes Volvo's IDIS (Intelligent Driver Information System), which delays certain functions, such as a phone call when the driver is engaged in a more complicated maneuver (heavy braking, turning, and so on). A rear obstacle detection system is also available as an option. Volvo's lane-departure warning system is optional.

Although the federal government hasn't crash-tested the C30, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has given the C30 its top "good" rating in each of its tests, along with its Top Safety Pick designation, which few small cars have typically earned.

Review continues below
7

2010 Volvo C30

Features

There are fewer options for the Volvo C30 than last year, but standard equipment gets a big boost; it's now a better value.

The Volvo C30 lineup was reconfigured last year, with the addition of a style-centric R-Design model. For 2010, the C30 gets more standard features, but the generally maligned custom-build program that enables various extra features and add-ons—at a much-inflated price—has been discontinued.

For 2010, a number of features that had been optional previously are now made standard; a trip computer, cruise control, and a Bluetooth hands-free calling interface are all currently included on the base C30 T5, while the C30 R-Design gets newly standard fog lamps. MotorWeek points to the "tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with satellite audio controls" that's standard across the model line.

The C30 R-Design model offers a more aggressive look, with different front and rear aerodynamic work, along with all sorts of sporty cues, but it's also something of a real sport package, boasting dynamic chassis control and upgraded wheels with Pirelli P Zero Rosso tires. Other options on the C30 lineup include a moonroof, leather upholstery, a navigation system with real-time traffic, a climate package, and a preferred package with active HID headlamps.

Review continues below
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Styling 9
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