It’s a brave new leap in terms of sports coupes according to Volvo, and based around the Safety Concept Car and the wildly popular 1800ES. Garth Sumpter seems to think that it’s actually a small step.
Volvo is not a sports car brand. It’s just not is it? The general public seem to know this and outside of the classic 180ES of the 70s, coupe buyers have voted with their feet since
Yet Volvo is desperate to get its customers into its brand earlier on, and thus grow its market share by moving its demographic to younger (or older) childless people. Certainly, the new C30 is aimed primarily at an under 35 year-old audience that makes up less than 10 per cent of its normal buyers. And luckily, its conservative estimate for sales of 2,000 up to June next year should not be hard to fulfil.
There will certainly be no lack of choice for drivers in terms of engines however, as the car will come with no less than eight engines, of which five will be will be petrol flavoured in 1.6, 1.8, and 2.0- litre 16-valved versions, with a 2.4i and T5 20 valve top of the range models capable of 7.6 and 6.2sec 0-60mph times, while the top of the range, 2.4 D5 diesel will return a 1-series beating 7.8secs. The lessons of the past, primarily with the 480, do not seem to have deterred the plucky Swedes. From some angles, the C30 can be considered a good looking car, but from the front view, it still too strongly resembles an S40, with its wide, strong shoulders.
However it certainly isn’t as wide in the back. The rear of the car has two adult sized seats that are pushed apart to allow better visibility through the rear, hatchback sized window. From the driving position, as someone who drove an S40 as a long termer, I may well have been in the same car. The steering wheel is identical as are the clocks and switchgear, which is all a bit disappointing for anyone wanting a sports coupe that has a little flair about it. Certainly the S40 cockpit is a roomy and comfortable place which I really liked, but it’s no way sporty, and rather too conservative and dull for younger drivers.
The controls are solid though and the C30 shares its bigger sibling’s floating centre console, which in the C30 you can get in an i-Pod white – which falls from the centre dashboard and houses the cars audio and computer systems. Maybe I’m not Volvo’s pre or post children market yet, but I preferred the brushed aluminium finish. The launch car also had an upgraded Alpine sound system with 10 Dynaudio speakers giving a meaty yet highly defined sound, although as there were no presets for the graphic equaliser, there might be a few crashes if people try to change levels while driving using the fiddly sound interface. For those under 35, the crucial I-Pod adapter will be available from 2007.
From start up, you quickly realise what will be the car’s major selling point. It’s the sound of the lovely, crystal clean D5 engine in the test car. Pity that it’ll be six months after launch before the 5-speed auto box can be replaced with a 6-speed manual though, as while the car drives more like a saloon than a hot hatch, it sounds like a pure sportscar when you press the go pedal, the tone of the engine dropping while the volume goes up enough to let you know that it’s there. Some of the guys there complained about the noise, saying it was intrusive – but I expect that given their ages, they didn’t fall into either of Volvo’s target markets so we should pay them no heed. Strangely those same people thought that the car steered well, which after a brief encounter with the side of a mountain, I would agree, although I would say that it handles more like a sofa than a sportscar when it’s pushed hard. It remains to be seen what the effect might be, but I’d suggest that launching a ‘sports’ car that isn’t available with a manual six-speed box seems almost suicidal!
So, if you’re a driver then it’s really not for you at present and you’ll need to wait until the car has finished its (backward) evolution, but you should have another look when the 6-speed box comes out in six month’s time! Until then, if you like your coupes to drive well, we’d strongly suggest that you look and touch but reserve your judgement, (and your cash), until the manual box comes out around June 2007.
On sale: Orders now for Jan 2007 // Price from; £16,795 for the 1.6D S //
Main rivals: Audi A3 TDI // BMW 120d
- Price: £23,795
- Engine: 2,400cc 5-cyl turbo, intercooled etc
- Max Power: 180PS at 4,000rpm
- Max Torque: 258 lb ft 1,750-3,250rpm
- Combined Consumption:40.9mpg
- CO2 Emissions (taxband): 182g/km (F)
- 0-62mph: 7.8secs
- Max speed: 140mph
Electronic Climate control
16 inch alloys
Electric front windows
Performance audio radio/CD 4x20W with 4 speakers
Powered/heated door mirrors
Height/reach adjustable leather steering wheel
Folding rear seats
Rear centre armrest
DSTC (Dynamic Stability and Traction Control)
ABS with EBD and EBA, WHIPS seats, SIPS airbags and curtain, dual stage driver and passenger airbags, seat belt pre-tensioners, soft load cover (hard cover later)
SE (+1,500 ) As S trim plus;
In addition to S, 17in alloys, aluminium inlays, steering wheel audio controls, cruise, front fog lights, trip computer and information centre, bottle holder, auto dimming rear view, rain sensor, body coloured mirrors, Kalix textile/T-tec upholstery, rear spoiler (choice of two) D5 and T5 models only.
SE SPORT (+1500) As SE trim plus;
18inch alloys, leather steering wheel with aluminium inserts, full body kit (front/rear spoilers and side sills) SE LUX +1500 As SE trim plus; Leather upholstery, rear spoiler,power folding mirrors, Winter Pack (heated front seats, headlamp cleaning, luxury floor mats
It’s that quick and clean D5 engine, and it sounds just great when you press the go pedal. Tougher than Malaganese mountains… (well er, nearly!)
Resembles a sports coupe from the outside but looks like an old man’s S40 on the inside. Five-speed auto box is lively, but the only option available at launch!