Volvo’s new 1.6-litre C30 adds a bit more affordability and sense to the range. You still get the entire Volvo package, but at a lower price and with better fuel consumption.
After the initial launch of Volvo’s C30 hatchback the hype seems to have died down a little. When last did you see one in traffic or a parking lot?
And this isn’t a car that can be easily missed, which means there simply aren’t many of them on the road. The main reason is that the C30 is a ‘want’ buy. You don’t buy a C30 because you can’t find or afford something else.
The C30 is an acquired taste, so only those who really want one will eventually drive it off the showroom floor.
With the introduction of a new entry-level 1.6-litre engine to the range, however, Volvo hopes its unique little hatch will draw in a larger range of buyers.
On the outside, the Volvo C30 1.6 is identical to its siblings.
The 2009 models feature minor cosmetic changes and extra options, but it’s essentially the same car. In this case, the real difference lies under the hood in the shape of a 74 kW, 150Nm four-cylinder 1.6-litre petrol engine. It may be the baby in the range, but the new C30 1.6 is no slouch.
We had the opportunity to drive it along the winding roads of KZN and were duly impressed with the car’s performance. It gets up to speed quickly, handles exceptionally well and is superbly comfortable under any road conditions.
An added bonus is Volvo’s commitment to quality which means the C30 sports one of the best and most luxurious interiors in the hatchback business. It doesn’t need to fake it with flasing lights and glittering dials – in true Swedish tradition the C30 is all about tasteful space and comfort.
The only criticism has to be the fact that the C30 1.6 is only available in five-speed manual guise. This works brilliantly around town as the car is geared to get the best perfromance possible from the engine and even overtaking in fourth is a cinch.
But once you’re on the open road you get the feeling that an extra gear would have been helpful. The engine sounds racy, which may be great for some, but over long distances you find yourself glancing down just to make sure you actually are in fifth.
There’s no doubt that the C30 is young at heart and it does so without resorting to being tacky. To further appeal to a younger and more creative market, Volvo offers four distinct trim levels:
The first is the Essential package which includes electronic climate control, foglights, leather-trimmed steering wheel, 16-inch alloy wheels, electric windows, rain sensor and a Performance sound system.
Next up is the Excel package which adds to the spec list with auxillary plugs for iPod or MP3, electric fold-in door mirrors, cruise control, leather seats and 17-inch alloy wheels.
Third in the line-up is the Elite package which adds to the list with memory settings for the driver’s seat, bi-Xenon headlights and parking assistance.
And finally, there’s the R-Design package which is what everyone would be driving if we had our way.
This one includes a leather and aluminium gearshift knob, a silk matte finish on the front grille, R-design instrument cluster with blue inserts, aluminium trim on the mirrors, 3-spoke steering wheel, 17-inch R-design alloy wheels, sport seats, rear spoiler and a chrome tailpipe.
For a car that already stands out in a crowd, these added extras turn the C30 into a trulyeye-catching hatch.
At R214 500 the Volvo C30 is no cheapskate, but it really is value for money. Volvo may not have the same ‘badge snobbery’ as some of its peers, but that doesn’t make it an inferior car.
In fact, it’s safe to say that instead of focusing on image, Volvo has spent its time concentrating on what counts: quality, safety and comfort.
The C30’s unique styling seals the deal so if you’re looking for something that will stand out for it’s style and performance instead of the badge, we suggest you take the new C30 1.6 for a spin.