Full 2010 Volvo C30 Review
What's New for 2010
The 2010 Volvo C30 gains standard Bluetooth and cruise control, and its formerly extensive customization program has been eliminated, though some custom features survive as additions to the revised options packages.
The 2010 Volvo C30 is compelling evidence that Ford's stewardship of Volvo has been beneficial to the small Swedish automaker. Ford wisely left the styling to Volvo, yielding a unique-looking two-door hatch that's half S40 sedan, half classic Volvo hatchback and all Swedish chic on the inside. Meanwhile, Ford provided the C30's platform, which is based on the S40's and derived from another related Ford product, the excellent Mazda 3 compact.
Volvo's familiar turbocharged five-cylinder engine lives under the hood, cranking out a healthy 227 horsepower in this application. The result of this multicultural mash-up is a refined runabout that gives up a bit of sportiness to the competition, but more than compensates with its slick cabin and considerable curb appeal.
The C30 isn't really a "hot hatch" in the vein of the Mini Cooper S or Volkswagen GTI, but it still acquits itself reasonably well against these rivals in aggressive driving, falling behind only after most drivers would have reached their personal limits anyway. The Volvo certainly holds its own in a straight line, accelerating to 60 mph as or more quickly than cars like the Cooper S, GTI and Honda Civic Si. Stylistically, this four-seat Volvo is a knockout, with taut proportions outside and a trick "floating" center stack within that provide a cutting-edge flair that few competitors can match.
Hatchbacks have historically had a hard time in the U.S. market, but the C30 is more of a European fashion accessory than a workaday two-door hatch. We suspect a lot of the trendy young folks we see tooling around in Mini Coopers would be happier in the more sophisticated Volvo. You'll still want to check out the Mini, of course, and the added practicality of the four-door Mazdaspeed 3, Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart Sportback and Subaru WRX should also be considered. These models are more sport-tuned than the two-door Volvo, but if hot hatches strike you as a little too hot, the C30 is well worth a look.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Volvo C30 is a four-seat, two-door hatchback offered in two trim levels. The base T5 includes 17-inch alloy wheels, height-adjustable seats, a trip computer, cruise control, a 50/50-split-folding rear seat, full power accessories, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with audio controls, Bluetooth and an eight-speaker CD audio system with an auxiliary audio jack. The T5 R-Design trim level adds 18-inch wheels, foglights, a sport-tuned suspension, sporty exterior trim, partial leather upholstery, blue-face gauges and metallic interior trim.
The Preferred package tacks on power front seats, bi-xenon headlamps and keyless entry/ignition, as well as foglights and aluminum interior trim on the T5. The Multimedia package adds a 10-speaker Dynaudio surround-sound audio system and satellite radio. The Climate package includes heated front seats, headlamp washers, automatic climate control and rain-sensing wipers. Stand-alone options include leather upholstery, a sunroof, a blind-spot information system and a navigation system with real-time traffic.
Powertrains and Performance
The front-wheel-drive 2010 Volvo C30 is powered by a turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-5 that produces 227 hp and 236 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, and a five-speed automatic is optional.
In performance testing, we hustled a manual-equipped C30 to 60 mph in a fleet 6.4 seconds. EPA fuel economy estimates stand at 19 mpg city/28 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined.
The 2010 Volvo C30 comes standard with antilock disc brakes (with brake assist), stability control, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and front seats with whiplash protection. Volvo's Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) is optional.
Interior Design and Special Features
The C30's front compartment comes straight out of the S40 sedan, but that's hardly a bad thing. For example, it means that the C30 features Volvo's trademark floating center stack, which is a very cool flat-panel bridge between the dash and the center console with extra storage space beneath. Most controls are straightforward and attractive, but the confounding optional navigation system has a steep learning curve. The exceptionally cosseting front seats and telescoping steering wheel allow drivers of all sizes to get comfortable, though more side bolstering would be helpful on a curvy road.
Rather than attempt to shoehorn a fifth passenger into the C30, Volvo went with two rear bucket seats. It's actually quite comfortable back there for average-sized adults, though legroom may be a bit cramped for taller folks. Rearward visibility is excellent thanks to the tall and wide all-glass hatch. The cargo area can accommodate 13 cubic feet with the 50/50-split rear seatbacks up and 20 cubes when both are lowered -- hardly impressive by hatchback standards.
The 2010 Volvo C30 possesses plenty of grip and accurate steering. It's a fun car to drive, though its closest competitor, the Mini Cooper S, weighs less and is more entertaining on tight roads. The C30 counters, however, with a supple ride and a quieter cabin that combine to give the car superiority in terms of civilized commuting comfort. The turbocharged five-cylinder matches up well to either the six-speed manual transmission or the five-speed auto.