2009 Volvo C30 Review

Pros & Cons

  • Funky-cool Swedish styling, comfortable ride and front seats, excellent driving position, customizable options list.
  • Lacks the sporty fun of other hot hatches
  • those customizable options can get expensive.
Other years
List Price Estimate
$3,090 - $5,597

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Though the 2009 Volvo C30 doesn't possess the finely honed driving dynamics one might hope for in a hot hatch, it makes up for it with plenty of Swedish style and comfort.

Vehicle overview

Until last year, Volvo had been absent from the American hatchback coupe market for more than three decades -- its last example being the 1800ES from the 1970s. Since then, this Swedish automaker has focused largely on building family-focused sedans. But that changed last year when Volvo introduced the C30. This stylish two-door hatchback borrows classic styling cues from the 1800ES, such as the large trapezoidal glass hatch. It also retains contemporary Volvo traits like the boxy nose and grille.

The C30's underpinnings are contemporary as well, as they come from Volvo's S40 small sedan. The C30 rides on the same wheelbase but is about 9 inches shorter overall. Under the hood is Volvo's top engine from the S40 line, a turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-5 that cranks out a healthy 227 horsepower. Inside, the C30's dash is also familiar, though the overall look is more distinctive and the backseat has positions for only two passengers.

As a "hot" hatchback, Volvo's C30 puts up a fair fight. In our testing, the C30 accelerated as hard as the popular Mini Cooper S. But the differences between these cars really don't make themselves apparent until one hits the open road. On twisting canyon roads, each car will satisfy the vast majority of drivers, but the Cooper S has the edge over the C30 in nimbleness and sheer driving excitement.

However, the 2009 Volvo C30 has the advantage as an everyday commuter, with its softer ride, roomier interior and more convenient storage. Style also factors prominently in the C30's appeal, as the hipster interior treatments and customizable features should attract those seeking a bit more individuality and panache. With Volvo's reputation for safety and the C30's affordability (providing options are taken in moderation), Volvo's newest hatchback is a worthy alternative to the dime-a-dozen Mini Coopers and Volkswagen GTIs.

2009 Volvo C30 models

The 2009 Volvo C30 is a four-seat, two-door hatchback that is offered in two trim levels. The base T5 includes 17-inch alloy wheels, a 50/50-split rear seat, full power accessories, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with audio controls and an eight-speaker CD audio system with an auxiliary audio jack. The T5 R-Design trim level adds 18-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, specific exterior accents, cruise control, a 10-speaker surround-sound audio system, satellite radio, aluminum dash inlays and a watch-dial-inspired instrument panel. Many, but not all of these features are available as options for the base T5.

Options for either trim level are seemingly endless, and adding one or more of these choices includes a one-time $300 customization charge. Notable options include bi-xenon headlights, headlight washers, a hard-drive-based navigation system with real-time traffic, Bluetooth, a blind-spot warning system, power-retractable side mirrors, a sunroof, park distance control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather upholstery, power front seats, heated seats and keyless ignition. Unlike other Volvos, there is a large selection of custom exterior colors, interior trim choices and wheel designs.

2009 Highlights

The 2009 Volvo C30 drops the software-inspired 1.0 and 2.0 trim level names in favor of the new T5 and T5 R-Design monikers. New features include a long list of exterior and interior styling tweaks, changes to options packages and enhanced navigation operation.

Performance & mpg

Regardless of which 2009 Volvo C30 is chosen, power is delivered by a turbocharged 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder engine that produces 227 hp and 236 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels through either a standard six-speed manual transmission or an available five-speed automatic.

In our testing, a manual-equipped C30 dashed to 60 mph in a respectable 6.4 seconds. Fuel economy registers an EPA-estimated 19 mpg city/28 mpg highway and 23 mpg in combined driving.


The 2009 Volvo C30 carries on the company's reputation for passenger protection with a long list of standard safety equipment that includes antilock disc brakes (with brake assist), stability control, traction 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.


With a firmer suspension and grippier tires than those of the S40, the 2009 Volvo C30 hatchback manages to deliver a bit of fun behind the wheel. It's not as nimble or engaging as a Mini Cooper S, but the C30's smoother ride quality and quieter cabin make it much more suitable for daily use. The turbocharged five-cylinder has strong bottom-end torque, though its actual acceleration times are hampered by the car's somewhat portly curb weight. Think of the Volvo C30 as a "cool hatch" rather than a hot hatch.


The view from the front seats is nearly identical to the S40 sedan's, except for stylish two-tone color schemes and different trim. The sleek "waterfall" center stack provides elegantly simple ergonomics with a floating appearance that is just downright cool. Finding an optimal driving position is easy for any body type, thanks to the C30's super-comfortable seats and telescoping steering wheel, though the lack of seat bolstering will become apparent when the C30 is driven hard on a curvy road.

Rather than attempt to shoehorn a fifth passenger into the C30, Volvo instead chose two rear bucket seats. Rear seating is comfortable with plenty of adult-sized headroom, even 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.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2009 Volvo C30.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

A car that makes me smile every time I drive it.
Mike C,06/21/2016
T5 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 5cyl Turbo 6M)
I bought my 2009 C30 used and have now owned it for 3 years. I had test drove a Focus RT and a Veloster Turbo but just fell in love with the C30. I found the build quality and ride to be so much better than the other two cars. Although mine is a barebones Model (does not even have cruise control), the prior owner had had all the work done on the car at the dealership. As such, it was very well taken care of. Interior of the care is simple but effective. I am not a small person but find it very comfortable in the front seat. Although the back seats are supposed to be "roomy", I have long legs so there would be no leg room behind me. Besides, it is always a pain to get in and out of the back seat of a small coupe. As such, no one but my dog rides in the back seat. It did not take me very long to get used to the 'waterfall' control system and now find it very easy to use. Performace, the car is great. Yes, it does not get the best fuel economy but it is a performance car. If I wanted fuel economy I would have bought the Focus or the Veloster. The engine produced plenty of horse-power and I have yet to have an issue merging or passing. But what I really like is that the power and performance are matched to a great ride. I love taking this car to my parents hours (6 hours away). The looks of the car are what really drew me to it. It has a unique look that stands out in the sea of hatchbacks. However, that looks does come at a cost. The hatch itself smaller than the rest of the storage area so it does limit the size of objects you can carry in the back. Since I do not have people ride in the back seat, I can fold them down and have lots of room. Also, the large B-pillars do make it difficult to see, producing some large blind spots. The only issue I have had with this car in three years is a bad PCV. This caused the engine to "whistle" as well as the check engine light to come on. It was not exactly a cheap fix (I had the dealer fix it) but it is all good now. If you have a Volvo with this engine and you hear the engine "whine" or "whistle" then get it to a repair shop quickly as delaying could cause my greater damage. (I was able to avoid that.) But given that this is a 7 year old used car, I guess that is not bad. I would recommend this to anyone wanted a fun hot hatch (either with no kids or small kids).
Best in Class, Value and Otherwise
Strangely, this exquisite, sophisticated car is being overlooked in rankings because its drive isn't quite as "fun" as other cars. Meanwhile, it has twice the warranty of the far less dependable VW's, and has a solid reputation for reliability and has best in class safety. Being a grown up, I value those two aspects far more than the fun factor, which to me is represented well enough by the zippy engine, which, btw, is the same engine you get on most of the more expensive Volvos, so its a deal at this price. The C30s cost of ownership due is extremely low due to the expanded warranty package that makes it much more like buying a BMW, but for much less money. Best value anywhere.
Great little car
We bought a C30 on our return to the US after a few years overseas. Previously we'd owned a 2003 VW GTi and a 2001 Porsche Boxster but now we only need one car. The C30 has everything we require -- more refined than the VW and, okay, not a Porsche but much cheaper to run. Space is fine for the two of us and the performance is more than good enough. When we bought it the trip computer software had not been loaded. The dealership's salespeople said it wasn't available on the manual. This simply was not true and the mechanics at the dealership installed it in a few minutes when we took it for its first service.
Still brings a smile to my face
After researching all small hatchbacks in the US market and test driving the Subaru Impreza WRX and the Mazda 3, I test drove the C30 and knew it was the one. (I also wanted to test the Audi A3 but the dealer did not have any in stock.) I use this car daily (23,000 miles in year one) both in heavy traffic and on the open road. It is very responsive and comfortable in all driving conditions. I chose the Geartronic transmission (auto+manual) due to heavy traffic and enjoy driving in both modes. This car has been great, and it gets lots of positive attention. Check out Volvo's website - you can fully custom order your C30. I'm so glad to have done so - haven't seen a twin yet in 22000 mi!

Features & Specs

See all Used 2009 Volvo C30 features & specs
More about the 2009 Volvo C30

Used 2009 Volvo C30 Overview

The Used 2009 Volvo C30 is offered in the following submodels: C30 Hatchback. Available styles include T5 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 5cyl Turbo 6M), and T5 R-Design 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 5cyl Turbo 6M).

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Should I lease or buy a 2009 Volvo C30?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Volvo lease specials
Check out Volvo C30 lease specials