Say hello to the all-new C30 hatchback, due to hit U.S. shores next summer. With a price tag of around $23,000, the C30 will come equipped with four bucket seats, making it a big departure from the usual Volvo family hauler. According to chief designer Simon Lamarre, "The C30 is not for people with kids; it's a different kind of a Volvo for a different kind of customer."
Volvo has injected the C30 with shots of style and speed. While its face closely resembles that of the S40 and V50 with which it shares Ford's C1 platform, its sloping rear end bears a shape unique to modern Volvos. With a length of 167.4 inches (8.5 inches shorter than an S40) and a wheelbase of 103.9 inches (identical to S40), the C30 sports short overhangs and an aggressive, fast-forward stance.
The C30 utilizes the S40 T5's powertrain--a 2.5-liter 218-horsepower turbocharged inline-5 and a six-speed manual (a five-speed automatic will be optional)--and front McPherson strut/rear multilink suspension, which has been firmed up with stiffer springs and dampers.
Other than an occasional jar from the suspension of our test car, which had the sport suspension and 18-inch alloys, the C30 felt nearly perfect for its intended segment. Project leader Hakan Abrahamsson said his goal with the C30's chassis was to "make it firmer, sharper, sportier, and flatter" than the S40's, and he managed to hit every one of his goals. The C30 is the sharpest tool in Volvo's shed.
The C30 is capable of 0 to 60 mph in a brisk 6.2 seconds, according to Volvo, with the quarter-mile coming in under 15 seconds at around 95 mph. While the C30 could use a raspier exhaust note--our tester's was virtually silent--it doesn't suffer from turbo lag, a balky shifter, or a flimsy structure. In fact, the duration from throttle tip-in to full boost is minimal; the shifter is fluid, if a tad rubbery; and the structure, according to Abrahamsson, is stiffer than the S40's.
Inside, the C30 coddles with an S40-esque cockpit adorned with Volvo's trademark T-Tec upholstery and floating center console, familiar effects that mesh nicely with the leather-wrapped sport steering wheel and shift knob. The rear bucket seats, inboard from the fronts due to the arcing shoulder lines that swoop inward, provide commendable room and comfort for 6-foot adults. Cargo room, however, is not as laudable, offering just 8.2 cubic feet with the seats up. But fold the seats flat, and it expands to 30.9 cubes.
In addition to standard front, side, and side curtain airbags, the C30 protects with seat belt pretensioners for all four seats, a whiplash protection system (WHIPS), a side impact protection system (SIPS), and dynamic stability traction control (DSTC). Abrahamsson says that in crash tests, "the C30 performs as well as the S40," a vehicle that Volvo touts as being as safe as its large sedans.
Volvo hopes to sell roughly 10,000 C30s a year in the U.S. Based on our drive in Sweden, we'd say the Swedes are being modest. It's safe to say that demand will be high.