Volvo C30 helping DRIVe green sales

Who says green cars have to be dull? Not Volvo with the new C30, says ANDY RUSSELL.It was a bold move when Volvo launched the C30 - a radical departure for the Swedish car-maker, known for its safety and for so long seen as being rather staid.

Who says green cars have to be dull? Not Volvo with the new C30, says ANDY RUSSELL.

It was a bold move when Volvo launched the C30 - a radical departure for the Swedish car-maker, known for its safety and for so long seen as being rather staid.

But the C30 was also the car that helped lay to rest its image of being square by design… and nature.

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Those radical looks took some getting used to at first but, judging by the number of C30s on the road, they found favour with buyers and have attracted a new generation of younger buyers.

Looks aside, when I drove the original C30 I had difficulty working out what it was trying to be - Volvo calls it a SportCoupe but surely coupes are sleek and slippery and, T5 turbo aside, nor was it particularly sporty.

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Now Volvo has brought out a revised C30 that looks much more the part and is far more dynamic and rewarding to drive.

The first thing that strikes you is how much better it looks. It's partly because, with the new generation of curvaceous Volvos, the C30 is no longer a shock to the system but the main reason is a redesign, along with the C70 convertible, which draws heavily on the S60 Concept. It sees the C30 get a more dramatic face with swept-up, elongated headlamps and the angled lines of the front bumper and larger air intake giving it a more purposeful persona. The back end has also been updated including a new rear valance available in body or contrasting colour.

For petrolheads there are 100PS 1.6, 145PS 2.0 and 230PS 2.5-litre T5 engines but diesels have proved popular with 109PS 1.6, 136PS 2.0 and 180PS 2.4-litre D5 units.

Interestingly, it is the smallest diesel - part of Volvo's green DRIVe family of engines - which has stolen the show, accounting for more than half of all sales, and also available with Start/Stop - cutting the engine when the car's at a standstill to save fuel and reduce emissions. It adds �490 to the price but reduces CO2 emissions to just 99g/km, so no annual road fund licence, and returns 74.3mpg combined giving a potential range of 850 miles between fill-ups - enough to win the C30's green car of the year award. A really mean achievement and, given the C30's sporty pretensions, one which shows they don't have to be dull.

The 1.6D DRIVe pulls willingly from low revs which does wonders for fuel economy and it's no sluggard when you wind it up, remaining impressively quiet. Overall I saw 60mpg but the Start/Stop paid dividends in city driving with a best of 67mpg.

With safety at the forefront of everything Volvo does, handling is sure-footed but, for drivers who want some sparkle from their C30, the popular R-Design model's Sports chassis is a �400 option. It lowers the car by 10mm, has more precise, responsive steering and stiffer springs and dampers for a sharper ride. It's available on all models except the 1.6 D DRIVe Stop/Start which already has lowered suspension to improve aerodynamics so feels composed and corners flatly. The trade-off is a slightly firmer ride, but not unpleasantly so, and some tyre noise on poor roads.

The C30 may have only four seats but it can take four adults with decent head and legroom in the back, although getting in and out of the rear seats is tricky because you have to step over the front seat belts, the bottom mounting point of which slides forward with the front seat.

The boot is deceptively sized, offering 433 litres of spaces - enough for a large suitcase and a large overnight holdall. The moulded luggage cover looks neat but is fiddly to take out and put back - fortunately for smaller items you just lift a flap to gain access. Rear seats backs split 50/50 and fold flat for larger loads but the limiting factor will be the small, tapering tailgate.

The C30 may be the entry point in the Volvo range but there's no skimping on build quality or materials with the colour-co-ordinated interior oozing tasteful Scandinavian efficiency. Big clear, dials and simple rotary knobs on the 'floating' centre console are easy to find your way round, in stark contrast to all the small buttons for the audio system, heated seats and directing the airflow.

The Start/Stop version of the 1.6D DRIVe is available in S, SE and SE Lux. S comes with climate control, trip computer, electric windows, 16in alloy wheels and stability and traction control. SE adds cruise control, audio controls on the steering wheel, upgraded upholstery, front fog lights, 17in alloys and automatic folding door mirrors while SE Lux gains leather seats, power adjustment for the driver's seat and active bending headlights with washers.

The new C30's styling makes it more attractive on the eye, while the DRIVe models are attractive to the growing band of green motorists.


Price: �19,015 (without Start/Stop �18,525; C30 range from �14,995)

Engine: 1,560cc, 109PS, four-cylinder turbo diesel

Performance: 0-60mph 10.7 seconds; top speed 118mph

MPG: Urban 61.4; extra urban 85.6; combined 74.3 (without Start/Stop 49.6, 74.3, 62.8)

Emissions: 99g/km (119g/km)

Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 13pc

Insurance group: 17E (out of 50)

Warranty: Three years/60,000 miles

Will it fit in the garage? Length 4,266mm; width 1,782mm; height 1,447mm

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