FUNKY FASHIONISTA: Volvo’s C30 has long divided opinions. The catwalk model in the Swedish car range appeals to some for its radical looks and repels others put off by its cramped back seat and small boot
It has always been stronger on style than practicality, a fashion coupé with meagre luggage room but the usual big emphasis on safety that is an essential part of Volvo’s DNA. Four years on from its original launch, the C30’s sharp suit of clothes was in need of a bit of freshening, so it has just undergone a facelift and general updating. Most of the external changes are at the front, including reshaped body panels, a new honeycomb grille, larger air intake and the enlarged iron mark logo that is now appearing across the Volvo range as a more prominent identity feature. Among the other outward changes are a new colour-coded rear valance, new wheel options and revised paint colours including a vibrant metallic orange. Extra upholstery choices have also been added to spruce up the interior.
The most significant change from a driver’s viewpoint is the introduction of a new sports chassis, now standard on top-spec R-Design models and optional on all other variants except the base DRIVe cars. With the sports chassis you get a very slightly lowered ride height (down by 10mm), as well as stiffer dampers and roll stabilisers to make the ride more dynamic and reduce any tendency to lean on corners. The steering bushes have also been stiffened to increase precision.
A long drive on a hilly route through rural Austria in a C30 equipped with the sports chassis confirmed the benefits of the changes. The car is visually tauter, and has crisper responses on the road. A touch more firmness in the ride and handling gives it a more poised feel, and the steering has a touch of extra bite to it.
The 134bhp two-litre diesel engine is well suited to the car and gives strong performance without making an undue fuss about it. Refinement is generally good, and you’re not particularly aware of engine noise other than under fierce acceleration. The changes have enhanced the C30’s attributes, its stylish design, well-kitted interior and good driving character. But they have done nothing to improve the drawbacks that some find off-putting: the lack of rear legroom and the awkwardness of a boot with a restricted opening, that forces you to insert luggage like pushing envelopes into a letter-box.
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- Engine: 1997cc, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel with particulate filter
- Gearbox: 6-speed manual
- Max power: 134bhp at 4,000rpm
- Max torque: 236lb ft at 2,000rpm
- Max towing weight: 1,500kg
- Max speed: 127mph
- 0-62mph: 9.4secs
- Combined consumption: 49.6mpg
- CO2 emissions (taxband): 151g/km (G)
- Bootspace: 433/947litres
- Insurance group: 24