Volvo's iteration of a funky and chic lifestyle car seems to improve by leaps and bounds, more so with this snazzy new C30 T5 that we test drove.
Photos: Joel Tam
At first glance, one might regard this 230bhp Ford-sourced turbocharged 2.5-litre five pot three door as Volvo's rendition of a hot hatch. While it certainly looks the part and goes like one, the C30 is really a sporty executive hatch, infused with substantial power to ensure that it won't be left trailing by most.
So what is it about this car that appeals? Well for starters, the C30 is a looker that would definitely attract the yuppie crowd with its stylish and chic design, turning heads as it cruises down Shenton Way.
At first glance, the Volvo C30 is a S40 sedan sans the two rear doors with a hatch thrown in for good sporty measure. But why a C30 over any other continental make of the same genre? Isn't Volvo famed for being dull, drab and sensible? A car bought by doddering old men and women who love driving Swedish tanks around town for its famed safety in built? The statement is true, but that was the past, and modern day Volvos as compared to their predecessors are as different as chalk and cheese in terms of looks, or you might call it truly progressive evolution in terms of innovation and design. Either way, Volvos are no longer ugly looking cars.
So what dispels the notion of Volvos being ugly cars? Well, the C30 does just that, as it looks the part, enticing many potential buyers with its more aggressive interpretation of the S40 front, headlights set well back from the grille, broad rear haunches and a deep all-glass rear hatch, making it look like a toned down version of the Volvo 3CC concept car. Our test car also came with white 17 inch Styx rims, making it very sporty looking, now who would resist such a car? And that's not all, for the new C30 also boasts of other funky design elements that makes it a fashionably fun car to drive, with its black plastic lower valances adorning the flared wheel arches and a roof spoiler that looks like a baseball cap worn backwards.
Moving on to the interior, one would find four individual seats and a feel of spaciousness that gives a welcome feel of a big car even though the car is measured at just 4.25 metres long. This is partly due to the interior layout of the cabin which is elegant yet minimalist in design, which is typical Scandanavian fare. You don't really see much mind boggling designed furniture at Ikea do you? This is further accentuated by the modern looking aluminium trim highlights and the superbly comfortable lightly bolstered seats swathed in optional Kalix Textile or T-Tec synthetic two-tone upholstery, making them great alternatives to the usual leather or fabric offered.
With the layout of the C30's well thought out, everything is purposefully placed, further accentuating the cabin's premium feel. One of the highlights of the C30's interior instrumentation is the 'floating' centre console which can be customised as well, with finishes such as satin smooth aluminium with a surf-wave pattern or a glossy white surface akin to those on Apple products amongst other options.
As for driving impressions of the car, even though the C30 T5 as mentioned earlier uses the same 2.5 litre turbocharged five-cylinder engine as the Ford Focus ST, the C30 T5 feels a tad subdued, belying its figures on paper. Though its quoted to go from nought to 100 in just 7.1 seconds, it just doesn't feel that way when driving it, though it reacted quite enthusiastically when the accelerator was prodded a tad harder. I would probably attribute this to the refinement of the car's engine as compared to its American counterpart which is meant for hard driving, but driving around town, the large amount of torque this car has, makes it a very tractable car to drive, making it a relaxing cruiser on and off the highway.
But is this docile car capable of being agitated to some hard driving? Well it certainly did, as the turbocharged five-pot started to warble when the tachometer indicated 4,000rpm which sounded quite melodious to be honest. Coupled with the C30's compactness and a competent chassis, the car is relatively agile and capably quick, though the steering (electro-hydraulic rack-and-pinion) doesn't really inspire much confidence due to its lack of feedback, in fact it steers too readily in my opinion, but as a daily driver it is adequate. Stopping wise, the brakes do their job nicely, with the 300mm front ventilated discs pulling the car to a halt crisply and cleanly all the time with nary a hint of being over-servoed, a trait common in some continental cars.
In summary, the C30 T5 is a great amalgam of style and substance with power thrown in for good measure. All-in-all, the car is a welcomed alternative to the other premium continental hatchbacks. However, we hope Volvo can develop a fully fledged high performance C30-R model instead of an aesthetically-pleasing R-Design adornment.