2008 Volvo C30 new car reviews

Better than: Ford Focus
But not as good as: MINI Cooper S
GRM Bang For The Buck Index: 84.64

Okay, so the MINI brand isn't the only European manufacturer looking to cash in on a nostalgic styling icon. While it never saw a production volume or worldwide distribution like the original Mini, Volvo's charismatic P1800 wagon certainly had its share of die-hard fans. When it came time to style their new C30 hatchback, Volvo referred to the wayback machine for a dose of classic good looks.

The supersized rear glass certainly does the trick, and along with novel styling cues on the dash and interior, you won't likely confuse the C30 with its market rivals. We were really impressed with the seats; the C30 had some of the most comfortable butt-huggers we've tried all year.

The Volvo isn't as quick as its 227 horsepower rating might suggest, but it still provides more than enough grunt to move through traffic. The suspension is perfectly adequate, as well, but it doesn't have the feel of a performance-focused car.

In the end, we thought the C30 was a great car that felt much more luxurious and classy than its price point would suggest. If you're shopping this segment, the Volvo is worth a look.

Other staff views

Per Schroeder Per Schroeder
PowerDork

This felt a lot like a GTi. Quick, but not fast. Sporty but not Sports and Nice, but not great. The 5 cylinder engine has plenty of punch, but feels like it runs out of breath.

Oddly enough, I didn't hate it with an automatic, as it just kept me from A) getting in trouble and B) from pushing the car past its happy point.

David S. Wallens David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

I think I could drive this every day. Comfortable seats, excellent visibility, good tunes, great steering wheel, decent pep--even with the automatic box. Plus it has a handy cargo hold.

The interior is a bit plain, however. Some people will dig that, others will go searching for something else. Volvo interiors have had very purposeful interiors lately, but this one is bordering a bit on stark.

For a "compact" car, fuel economy isn't anything to write home about. That might sway a few people over to a Cooper S, which when you get down to it is a somewhat similar car. If anything, this one has me eager to check out the C30 R-Design.

Tom Heath Tom Heath
UberDork

I had some mixed feelings on this one. On one hand, I liked the simple and airy styling (particularly the waterfall dashboard treatment) visually. The same simple and airy feeling carried over to the dynamics of the car, and that left me sort of cold. It wasn't a bad feeling, but the C30 is one of the very few cars I simply wasn't interested in driving hard. It would be a great car for a non-enthusiast.

Scott Lear Scott Lear

I love the look from behind and the seats were great, but I can't see myself choosing one of these over a Mazdaspeed3. Still, if a friend were interested in one and wanted my advice, I'd encourage them to go with it. A small diesel would make this an even more interesting option.

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Comments

View comments on the GRM forums
GlennS
GlennS Dork
3/18/09 10:22 p.m.

I drove on of these as well as a mazda speed 3 today. I felt that the volvo was far less likely to kill me.

integraguy
integraguy UltraDork
10/18/11 9:41 a.m.

If anyone reads: My godson bought one of these recently. Ironically, one of the cars he "cross-shopped" was a Mini. His comments pretty much mirrored those made by the staff writers for GRM. I'm just a little ticked he didn't invite to take a test drive or go for a ride (but time constraints prevented that). His is silver, no idea which transmission, but would guess the automatic.

Tom Heath
Tom Heath UberDork
12/10/13 12:00 a.m.

Okay, so the MINI brand isn't the only European manufacturer looking to cash in on a nostalgic styling icon. While it never saw a production volume or worldwide distribution like the original Mini, Volvo's charismatic P1800 wagon certainly had its share of die-hard fans. When it came time to style their new C30 hatchback, Volvo referred to the wayback machine for a dose of classic good looks.

The supersized rear glass certainly does the trick, and along with novel styling cues on the dash and interior, you won't likely confuse the C30 with its market rivals. We were really impressed with the seats; the C30 had some of the most comfortable butt-huggers we've tried all year.

The Volvo isn't as quick as its 227 horsepower rating might suggest, but it still provides more than enough grunt to move through traffic. The suspension is perfectly adequate, as well, but it doesn't have the feel of a performance-focused car.

In the end, we thought the C30 was a great car that felt much more luxurious and classy than its price point would suggest. If you're shopping this segment, the Volvo is worth a look.

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