2012 Volvo C30 Review

Pros & Cons

  • Distinctive styling
  • firm yet compliant ride
  • supportive yet comfortable front seats
  • spirited turbocharged engine.
  • Rivals offer more performance
  • behind-the-times navigation system.
Other years
List Price Estimate
$5,954 - $8,932

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Edmunds' Expert Review

The 2012 Volvo C30 dishes out a full plate of style and comfort but doesn't match some of the performance thrills that competitive models offer.

Vehicle overview

The 2012 Volvo C30 tends to stimulate more right-brain passion than left-side indulgence with its Euro-chic styling and sassy attitude. While it offers an available sport-tuned suspension and is motivated by an energetic turbocharged engine, this Swede doesn't grab you by the throat with the same fury as others in the hot-hatch segment, like the Subaru Impreza WRX.

Don't get us wrong -- the Volvo C30 drives nicely and has more dynamic capabilities than most drivers will care to exploit. But the result is more like automotive art than pure performance. While giving up a bit of sportiness to the competition, the C30 excels in delivering superior sophistication, refinement and, of course, styling. Check out the hatchback's oversized glass, Volvo's trademark vertical taillights and the front fascia that resembles Volvo's XC60 crossover. Compared to most other hatchbacks, the C30 is a cut above.

Volvo hasn't sacrificed comfort for performance, even in the sport-tuned R-Design model. The result is refreshing in this segment: a capable two-door hatchback that remains perfectly pleasant to drive on a daily basis. Other than the Volkswagen GTI, no rival can match the C30's refinement -- and aesthetically speaking, the C30 is in a class of one. Nevertheless, you might also want to compare the 2012 Ford Focus hatchback in top-level trim as well as the Mini Cooper.

2012 Volvo C30 models

The 2012 Volvo C30 is a four-seat, two-door hatchback offered in two models: the base T5 and the sportier T5 R-Design. Each model can be upgraded with either the new Premier Plus or Platinum trim level that basically groups popular options into packages for easier ordering.

The T5 includes 17-inch alloy wheels, height-adjustable seats, a trip computer, cruise control, 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 and USB input.

The Premier Plus trim adds a power glass sunroof, power front seats, LED daytime lights and aluminum inlays for the dash. The new Platinum trim includes the Premier Plus upgrades along with driver seat memory, a navigation system and a premium 10-speaker surround-sound audio system with satellite radio.

The T5 R-Design model features mechanical upgrades to provide more performance, including 18-inch wheels, a quicker steering ratio and a sport-tuned suspension that is 30 percent stiffer. Distinctive styling cues for the R-Design include color-coordinated exterior trim, a special front grille design, leather seating, blue-faced gauges, sport pedals and metallic interior trim. The Premier Plus and Platinum trim upgrades include the same equipment as mentioned for the T5.

The C30's Climate package -- which includes heated front seats, electronic climate control, headlight washers and rain-sensing wipers -- can be added to any trim level.

2012 Highlights

Volvo revised its trim level strategy for the 2012 Volvo C30, adding Premier Plus and Platinum options to both the C30 T5 and C30 T5-R models. Other updates include audio streaming for Bluetooth, a standard security alarm and the replacement of the halogen-type daytime running lights with LEDs.

Performance & mpg

The front-wheel-drive 2012 Volvo C30 is powered by a turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-5 that produces 227 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, and a five-speed automatic with manual-shifting function is optional.

In our performance testing, a manual-equipped C30 reached 60 mph from a standstill in 6.4 seconds with the manual, which is average for the class. The automatic was just a bit slower at 6.9 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy checks in at 21 mpg city/29 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined for the manual; the automatic has a 21/30/24 mpg rating.


The 2012 Volvo C30 comes standard with 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. In Edmunds brake testing, a C30 came to a stop from 60 mph in a below-average 130 feet.

In crash testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the C30 received the highest possible rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests.


The 2012 Volvo C30 is a fun car to drive, boasting ample grip in the turns and accurate steering. The R-Design model generates the most smiles with its extra rubber and quicker steering ratio. The Mini Cooper S might be more entertaining on tight roads, but the C30 has a smoother ride and a quieter cabin. The five-speed automatic transmission is responsive in either manual or auto modes, although some drivers may yearn for paddle shifters. However, the transmission makes a nice dancing partner for the turbo engine and its distinctive soundtrack. Wind and road noise are negligible, but that engine will tickle the senses.


The C30's front compartment channels the design of the Volvo S40 sedan, which means it has Volvo's trademark floating center stack that is sharply dressed in brushed aluminum and complemented with sophisticated controls. One noticeable downside is the confounding optional navigation system, which is at once less sophisticated than those from other manufacturers and yet requires a steep learning curve.

The front seats draw the strongest praise. They're exceptionally comfortable, though more supportive side bolsters would be helpful on a winding road. The telescoping steering wheel helps accommodate drivers of all sizes.

Volvo didn't even try to design a rear seat that could hold three passengers. Instead, the rear cabin area sports a 50/50-style bench seat with a center armrest. Seating is comfortable, but somewhat restricted in legroom for taller adults. Rearward visibility is excellent thanks to the tall and wide all-glass hatch. For all the interior comfort and refinement, the pint-sized cargo area is a disappointment. There are a paltry 13 cubic feet with the rear seatbacks up, and 20 cubes when both are lowered -- hardly impressive by hatchback standards.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2012 Volvo C30.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Perfect driving dinamic
This is my first Volvo, I was looking for a driver's car and this is it. The driving confort and position is superb. The power is very good at low RPM, the 2.5 L. turbo has a lots of tork at only 1500 RPM. and no turbo lag. If you are looking for a reliable European car, this is it, the ride is very confortable for our bad roads. I selected the 16' wheels for that reason. I just drove from Vermont to Nova Scotia in 12 hours non stop with zero back problems. I dont understand why this car is not selling more as mine was the price of a Civic SI and Volvo is having huge promotions with 5years waranty and free maintenance 0% finance and $5000. off.
Runs like a scalded dog
T5 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 5cyl Turbo 6M)
Good acceleration, traction, handling and controls. Lightest Volvo sold in U.S. but still has sturdy 5 cyl engine. They sold few of these models in U.S. because hatchbacks don't appeal here. The styling is very attractive and retro. You will rarely see another one on the road. Car people notice this rare model and will compliment you about it. Sweet exhaust note on start up. 2013 is last year sold in U.S. but still being sold in Europe. Hurry, hurry buy one while you still can. It is compact with limited rear space but the front space is good. I am 6'2 and super comfy in front seat. Built safe, heavy body for small car, look at the doors and body. They were super expensive when new $35K and depreciated rapidly, typical Volvo. However I think the limited supply means the values stabilize well starting at the 3 year mark. 10 year old examples sell for big prices. A lot of used examples have 180K miles still running.
Loving my new/old C30
T5 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 5cyl Turbo 6M)
It may not be the most practical car in the world,but i love it for what it is. This car has a great ride, very solid and reassuring to drive on twisty mountain passes and interstate highways alike. The engine has power and torque way beyond my requirements, and i love the 6-speed manual transmission. The seats are very comfortable,and the interior noise is minimal. Loved the exterior design when it came out,and it still looks fresh today. Update: after a year, I am still enjoying the car very much, especially for longer trips. This car is a great highway cruiser.
Loving this car!
Woody Cross,08/29/2018
T5 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 5cyl Turbo 6M)
Very comfortable road cruiser,great seats,ergonomics. Lots of power,and good handling,the 6-speed manual is lots of fun. I got the Premium Plus,so there are lots of adjustments available with the seats,steering wheel. The style of the car is still very fresh and contemporary,inside and out.

Features & Specs

See all Used 2012 Volvo C30 features & specs


IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
  • Roof Strength Test
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 2012 Volvo C30

Used 2012 Volvo C30 Overview

The Used 2012 Volvo C30 is offered in the following submodels: C30 Hatchback. Available styles include T5 R-Design 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 5cyl Turbo 6M), and T5 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 5cyl Turbo 6M).

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Should I lease or buy a 2012 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.

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