Join Date: Mar 2001
Test Drive: 2007 Volvo C30 2.4i (Canadian Driver)
Test Drive: 2007 Volvo C30 2.4i (Canadian Driver)
With a starting price of $27,495, the new Volvo C30 2.4i is now the least expensive Volvo you can buy, and one of the least expensive luxury cars available in Canada - well at least until you start adding options.
Penned by Montreal designer Simon Lamarre, the C30 is a stylish two-door, four-seat hatchback that uses the underpinnings of the Volvo S40 sedan and V50 station wagon. The C30's distinctive glass hatchback was inspired by the Volvo 1800 ES sport wagon sold in 1972 and 1973, but the C30 also resembles another Volvo two-door hatchback model built from 1986 to1995 called the 480. Though designed for North America, this model was never sold here.
Like the S40 and V50, the C30 is offered with two engines: the C30 2.4i ($27,495) has a 168-hp 2.4-litre inline five-cylinder engine and the C30 T5 ($31,995) offers a 218-hp 2.5-litre turbocharged five-cylinder engine. C30 2.4i models come with a standard five-speed manual tranny while T5 models have a six-speed manual. Both are available with an optional five-speed automatic with "Geartronic" manual shift mode.
This week's test car is a base 2.4i model with the standard five-speed manual transmission, optional Brilliant Blue paint, and 17-inch Michelin Pilot tires and Mestra alloy wheels, part of the optional Sport Package
Though it's difficult to see in the photographs, the C30's paint finish and exterior quality is top notch. Up close, this is a very attractive car. I especially liked the dark plastic paneling that runs around the bottom edge of the car, under the fender flares and under the bumpers because it's so well integrated with the body - and it protects the body from stone chips as well as hiding mud splashes.
There are only a few styling differences between the 2.4i and the T5, the most noticeable being the different alloy wheels and the twin chrome tailpipes on the T5 compared to the single exhaust on the 2.4i.
Pricing and standard equipment
For a base price of $27,495, the C30 2.4i gives you the 168-hp 2.4-litre five cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission, 16-inch tires and alloy wheels, stability and traction control, four wheel disc brakes with ABS, electronic brake force distribution and brake assist; speed-sensitive power rack and pinion steering; fully independent suspension, and rear fog light.
Inside is standard T-Tec cloth upholstery, air conditioning, AM/FM/CD audio system with four speakers, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, power windows with auto up/down feature, remote entry, front, side and curtain airbags; active front head restraints, 'bauxite' trim, folding rear seatbacks, cruise control, outside temperature gauge, rear wiper and defroster,
My test car was also equipped with the $3,000 Sport Package which includes 17-inch Mestra alloy wheels, front fog lights, electronic climate control, aluminum console and door inlays, heated front seats, leather steering wheel, leather shift knob, and power driver's seat with memory. The Brilliant Blue exterior paint on my test car is a $650 option. The total price came to $32,860 including Freight, Dealer preparation and A/C tax.
Other available options include a five-speed automatic "Geartronic" transmission ($1,500); sunroof ($1,500); Premium Package ($2,150) with dual zone climate control, heated seats, power driver's seat, leather steering wheel, leather shift knob, and aluminum trim; and the Dynaudio Package ($1,250) with 6-disc CD player, 10 speakers, auxiliary jack, and audio controls on the steering wheel. The optional navigation system ($2,500) available in the T5 is not offered in the 2.4i.
Though it's Volvo's least expensive model, there's nothing cheap about the C30's interior. The look, feel and overall quality of the seating and dash materials is top rate. Two-tone "T-tech" cloth seats (monotone seats are available), thick-rimmed leather-wrapped steering wheel, and aluminum centre control panel, door handles and armrests give the interior a sporty but classy appearance.
The driver's seat has a power height adjuster and a manual lumbar adjuster, and the steering wheel tilts and telescopes. I found the driver's seat to be firm but comfortable on long drives while the driving position provides easy access to controls and good outward visibility. The front seats include electric heaters with two temperature settings.
In the centre dash, the heating and radio controls share a common green/black display screen for their various functions: turn the Volume dial, and a volume display appears on the screen. Adjust the fan speed, and a fan speed display appears. I found these controls easy to use and the display easy to read.
My test car had the standard audio system with a single CD player, four speakers, and four 20-watt amplifier which I found quite satisfactory. For an extra $1,250, you can order a 6-disc in-dash CD/MP3/WMA player with ten speakers and 130 watt amplifier and steering wheel audio controls.
Behind the aluminum centre console is an open storage area which isn't visible from the driver's seat and is awkward to reach. Still, it does offer a resting place for a cell phone or camera, as long as you don't forget it's there. There is a 12-volt outlet for charging, but it's located between the front seats in front of the cupholders - so if you want to charge your phone, you need to put it in the cupholder. An auxiliary jack for audio players is an option with the premium audio system. Behind the cupholders is a storage bin, but it's quite small. However, the glovebox is bigger than average.
The C30 has four bucket seats and two doors, which means getting in to and out of the rear seats is a challenge. Long door openings and sliding front seats provide adequate room to crawl between the door jamb and the front seats, and the front shoulder belt on the passenger side automatically slides back out of the way - but it's still difficult to get in and out of the back seats - and almost impossible if there's a passenger in the front seat. One complaint: the front passenger seat automatically slides forward when the seatback is lowered, but it doesn't slide back to its original position. The driver's seat has a power fore-aft adjustment with a button on the top of the seatback - so it's actually easier to operate than the passenger seat.
As the doors are long, care must be taken when opening them when parked next to another car - a common problem with two-door cars.
Once the rear passengers are seated, they have plenty of legroom and adequate headroom for adults up to about 178 cm (5 ft. 10 in.). The rear seats are very comfortable and include adjustable head restraints. As there is no centre seat, a folding armrest between the rear seats makes a handy divider. Large side windows give the rear passengers a nice view too. For storage, rear passengers have map pockets on the back of the front seats and large bins on either side of the seats. A 12-volt powerpoint on the back of the centre console offers power for electronic devices.
The glass hatch is released with an electric button under the bottom lip, and it lifts up to reveal a relatively small opening with a low liftover height (807 mm/31.8 in.) The cargo area is fully lined with carpet, including the back of the rear seats. Though the cargo area isn't huge, folding the rear seats down doubles the size of the cargo area. With the rear seats up, the cargo floor length is 711 mm (27.9 in.) and with the rear seats down, the length is 1534 mm (60.4 in.). However, the height of the luggage area is only 470 mm (18.5 in.), so tall objects won't fit.
A flexible plastic privacy cover keeps the contents of the trunk hidden from view, but the cover is more difficult to install than a typical sliding privacy cover. The top section has must be inserted in four slots in the side walls, while the vertical section must be secured with two tabs near the floor. When fitted, it does do a good job of keeping things hidden from onlookers.
As with all Volvos, safety has been given a priority: in addition to the standard front airbags, side airbags in the front seats, and curtain airbags for both rows, the C30 has active front head restraints to help prevent whiplash in a rear ender; SIPS (side impact protection system) to distribute collision forces in a side impact; force limiters and pyrotechnic pretensioners on all seatbelts; three-point seatbelts and head restraints in all four seating position; rear tether anchors for child seats; and even pedestrian collision protection.
Neither the NHTSA or the IIHS has crash tested the C30 yet, but Euro NCAP tests have awarded five stars in frontal and side impact crash tests.
From the driver's seat, the C30 offers excellent visibility to the front and sides and is one of the few cars to offer a good view to the rear as well. As there are only two rear seats, the view between them is not blocked by a seatback and a head restraint. As well, the glass tailgate extends down below the side glass 'waistline', providing a view of cars immediately behind when parallel parking. I found it much easier to back the C30 into a parking space when I could see the nose of the car behind me - which is not the case with most cars these days. I also appreciated the standard rear wiper and defroster which will keep the window clear in poor weather. As well, the long rear side window provides a good view of cars in the driver's blind spot when attempting to change lanes.
While the standard 2.4-litre DOHC 20-valve inline five-cylinder engine isn't overly powerful, it's a very smooth, willing engine that's surprisingly quiet, even under hard acceleration. The standard five-speed manual transmission is probably best way to get the maximum performance out of the C30's 168 horsepower engine. The shift lever has a very easy shift action - one of the lightest I've ever encountered - and clutch pedal effort is also lightweight. The shifter is so nice, and the clutch take-up is so smooth, that the C30 with the manual transmission isn't laborious to drive in the city. When cruising on the highway in fifth gear, the engine does 2,600 r.p.m. at 100 km/h
I didn't have the opportunity to try the optional five-speed automatic transmission, but with the Geartronic feature, it does give you the choice of being 'shiftless' or 'shifty'.
The C30's fuel consumption is very good according to official Energuide ratings: 10.9 L/100 km city and 7.4 L/100 km highway with the manual transmission, and 10.6/7.0 city/hwy with the automatic transmission
Handling is nimble - my test car had the optional Michelin Pilot MXM4 205/50R17 radials which provided terrific grip and good traction on wet roads. Volvo's Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DSTC) is standard on the C30, and this feature helps avoid loss of control on slippery corners or when accelerating on slippery surfaces.
With a turning diameter of only 10.6 metres (34.7 ft.), I found the C30 easy to manoeuvre in city parking lots and driveways. With its small size, good visibility, lightweight steering, and tight turning circle, the C30 makes a good city car. The body feels solid over rough roads, while the suspension is a bit firm but not harsh. The C30 has a very comfortable highway ride and tracks straight at high speeds.
Overall, the C30 has a feeling of quality and refinement that's a notch above cars like the Mini Cooper and the VW GTI. However, it's not as exciting to drive as those cars either, so I suspect that it will appeal to a slightly older buyer who wants sporty looks without sacrificing comfort.
Though I've mentioned the Mini Cooper S and VW GTI as competitors, there's another car that's probably closer to the C30 2.4i: the two-door VW Rabbit. It also has a large five-cylinder engine with a little less horsepower, a hatchback, a nice interior with five seats, and European handling. It's not available with as many options and it's not as refined or as luxurious, but it's considerably cheaper. It's worth a test drive if you're shopping for a C30.
A stylish four-seat hatchback with a top-notch interior, the C30 2.4i combines refinement, safety and practicality for under $30,000. But with only two doors, getting in and out of the rear seat is a challenge.
Pricing: 2007 Volvo C30 2.4i
Base price: $27,495
Options: $3,650 (Brilliant Blue paint, $650; Sport Package, $3,000 )
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $32,860 (Canadian Dollars)