2013 Volvo C30 Polestar Edition new car reviews

A unique Polestar badge adorns the front of the Rebel Blue-hued new-for-2013 special C30.
Two-tone leather in Off-Black and Calcite for a classy interior.
We loved the blue gauges.
Matte Black finish and 18-inch Styx alloy wheels complete the look of this Swedish beauty.

Consider this the sensible, upscale alternative to your boy-racer hot hatches. Starting at $27,000, the T5 doesn’t generate as much power as its distant Ford Focus ST and Mazdaspeed3 cousins, but its interior is tidy, high-tech, comfortable and stylish. Its exterior design is more understated, and under the hood it boasts one of the last remaining five-cylinder engines in production.

The extremely limited Polestar edition—ours has a dash badge claiming it to be number 172 of a total 250 examples—exceeds the R Design version in torque, power and throttle response. This unique software not only increases boost, but it reoptimizes fuel mapping and recalibrates throttle response.

Since it’s a Volvo, the Volvo Engine Laboratories’ lab testing procedures involved are rigorous to ensure the fortressitudiness of its namesake. Why Polestar? That's the name of the racing outfit that Volvo has been working with since the mid-'90s.

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Other staff views

Alan Cesar Alan Cesar
SuperDork

What a sublime ride. The torque plateau goes from 1500 rpm all the way to 5000, which makes this supremely satisfying to drive on the street. It's not necessary to rev the bejesus out of it to enjoy the drive. The five-cylinder turbo engine gives the smoothest power delivery I've felt in some time—not peaky, not harsh, just a constant supply of power no matter what revs. It's very satisfying.

When you're taking it easy, this C30 is also quiet as a polite dinner crowd after a tasteless joke. It also returns great gas mileage for the performance, averaging 27 mpg under our use. I love the blue color, and I think it's a fine alternative to the look-at-me boy racers. In that same regard, the engine is also a bit too quiet. If you buy one, open the intake just a bit so you can hear that mean five-pot and its compressor a little better.

The clutch is a little vague, though, and that price—oof, $35k is a big ticket, but it's all in the R Design package and the extra Polestar bits. That totals $6000 in options, but it is a good bit of the posh feel, too. It's a great car, but for a by-the-numbers person it makes a bit more sense closer to its base price. That makes it a very strong competitor in the market.

Tim Suddard Tim Suddard
Publisher

This is one of the nicest cars I have ever driven. I like the looks. The power is incredible for a small front wheel drive car, and the overall feel of the car is Subaru WRX, with the comfort and sophistication of a BMW or Mercedes. Total winner in my book and on my short list of cars i could buy ad own The Polestar name is a little weird, as I don't see this as a car for strippers.

David S. Wallens David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

This car is aimed right at our world: strong power, smallish chassis and a practical shape. One more bonus: It comes with a real stick shift. I think it looks good, too, even though this particular color is a bit too bright for me.

My one-sentence summary: I could drive this car everyday and be happy.

Reality: Most of us are going to say it's too expensive. Mark my words, in a couple of years we'll have message board threads about this one.

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Comments

View comments on the GRM forums
tuna55
tuna55 UltimaDork
1/17/13 11:14 a.m.

I think you're right, Dave, in 10 years we'll all be talking about snatching one up for 5 grand. Until then, though, nice as it is, it's a bit out of reach.

Denton
Denton None
1/18/13 1:51 p.m.

A longtime Volvo fan, I drove by my friendly Volvo dealer to have a peek. I'd driven a C30 before but it was too expensive for me.

Rebel Blue is what drew me in and after a week of contemplation Black Sapphire is what I came out with. Rebel Blue is cool, on someone else's car. Unfortunately Volvo put the ugly black 17" Styx wheels on, the color looks great with 18" Midir R-Design wheels.

Very happy after two months and 3500 miles. It's the last manual Volvo in the US, one of the last five-cylinders, and is beautifully styled.

It's a shame it was overlooked.

Alan Cesar
Alan Cesar Dork
12/10/13 12:00 a.m.

Consider this the sensible, upscale alternative to your boy-racer hot hatches. Starting at $27,000, the T5 doesn’t generate as much power as its distant Ford Focus ST and Mazdaspeed3 cousins, but its interior is tidy, high-tech, comfortable and stylish. Its exterior design is more understated, and under the hood it boasts one of the last remaining five-cylinder engines in production.

The extremely limited Polestar edition—ours has a dash badge claiming it to be number 172 of a total 250 examples—exceeds the R Design version in torque, power and throttle response. This unique software not only increases boost, but it reoptimizes fuel mapping and recalibrates throttle response.

Since it’s a Volvo, the Volvo Engine Laboratories’ lab testing procedures involved are rigorous to ensure the fortressitudiness of its namesake. Why Polestar? That's the name of the racing outfit that Volvo has been working with since the mid-'90s.

Like what you read here? You can get a whole magazine full of these types of articles delivered to your home or shop 8 times a year. Subscribe now or visit the Grassroots Motorsports online store for back issues.
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