Of all the cars we’ve had parked outside Flush the Fashion Towers in the past 12 months, for some reason none has attracted as much attention as the Volvo C30 we had there last week.
Volvo would probably be the first to admit that since Roger Moore drove the rather gorgeous P1800 in the classic 60’s TV series The Saint, they’ve had a reputation for being reliable, comfortable and safe, but not for making the worlds sexiest cars.
The Swedish manufacturer has tried on occasion to redress this balance with the 480 Coupe, and more recently the S60, V70 and of course the above mentioned C30.
Originally launched in 2007, the version we tested was the DRIVe, 1.6D SE 115hp 2door model, an ultra efficient machine with a lower ride height and low-resistance tyres among its modifications to increase performance and reduce emissions.
It just manages to slip under the CO2 emissions 100g/km mark and are (99g/km), and Road Tax (and the congestion charge) is free for any cars falling within this band.
If you are old enough to remember the Reliant Scimitar you might notice a few visual similarities between the two cars, and there is almost a 60’s throw back in the ultra modern design of this car.
It has elegance while being understated. And while it doesn’t shout ‘Look at me!’, it does whisper it very loudly. Its not everybody’s cup of tea though and round the back is where we found opinion most divided on it’s asthetic appeal.
I heard someone describe its rear end as ‘like a soggy nappy’, I suppose there is no accounting for taste! Personally I think it’s the focal point of the car and the C30’s best (ass)et.
You may be inclined to call the C30 a ‘Hot Hatch’, and although it has a sporty look (especially the red one we had), it doesn’t look like a teenagers car so it’s too sophisticated and grown up to fall into this category.
The interior of the C30 the finish is top notch and something you would expect from a Volvo. I really like the the ‘floating’ centre console design, a strip of silver with what looks like a large remote control fixed into the middle. A lot of thought has gone into the amount of buttons needed and none are wasted.
The seat / controls / arm rest / combination on this car is also good and everything was at just the right distance and height away, as I am over 6ft tall this was unusual for me. For the driver a Volvo C30 is like a nest on wheels.
The new C30 has a ‘Sports Chasis’, giving the car a sportier ride than previous versions although the ‘green’ features mean there is a slight delay between foot-to-pedal-to-power in lower gears.
0-62 takes 11.3 seconds while the 1.6 diesel engine’s top speed is 121 mph (the regular 2 litre version 130mph).
Driving the car is a pleasant more than thrilling experience, the suspension was firmer than I expected (but not uncomfortably so), and while the steering feels more responsive than before it would have been nice to get a little more feedback from it.
If you’re planning a journey in the C30 stock up on Gummy sweets as the big fuel tank combined with a combined fuel consumption figure of 74.3mpg mean you aren’t going to be stopping at too many garages along the way.
Earlier in the year Volvo ran a Facebook promotion claiming you could do 828 miles on one tank of petrol. While I found the actual figure to be slightly lower we did over 200 miles and the fuel dial barely moved from ‘full’.
It’s not perfect, there was some noise from the side windows at higher speeds, there isn’t a lot of room in the back seats, and the boot is more of a big glove box with a fabric type cover to hide your possessions.
It has strong competition from among others the Audi A3 and the BMW1 series, but for a car attempting to be green AND mean, it is well worth a look (especially if you want to give the neighbours something to talk about).
The 2litre petrol version of the Volvo C30 starts from £14,995 (on the road).
The car we tested was the D3 (150hp) SE Lux and is currently £22,285 (on the road).
For more info visit www.volvocars.com