Tested: 2011 Volvo C30 D2

The fantastic flair

Pay attention, young couples and hip singles. Today’s review takes the trendy and unpractical shape of Volvo’s little coupé slash hatchback, the C30. Launched in 2006, the Swede is only available with two doors and that distinctive rear end.

Before I get to that, the rest of this car demands a thorough explanation as well. The front features Volvo’s corporate nose, stretched headlights and a sculpted bumper which initiates a black plastic lining that runs along the bottom of the car, via all four wheel arches.

This sort of treatment is usually reserved for soft-roaders but gives the C30 a cheeky demeanour and should prove to be practical in South Africa; where we tend to traverse the odd dirt / dirty road and usually come away with stone chips in the abovementioned areas.

In profile, the C30’s metal rises towards to a flat window line which reaches a sudden conclusion with the car’s sloping rear end. Here you shall quickly discover very tall SUV tail light clusters and that trademark black / glass hatch which appears to have been yanked further down than necessary.

Still, this allows for decent rear visibility and a lower loading angle into the world’s smallest boot. Perhaps it isn’t the tiniest boot ever (233L) but, even with the privacy cover removed, two people’s luggage will barely fit. Thankfully, owners may choose to recline the rear seats to drastically increase cargo capacity (521L).

I stand by my description of “unpractical” but as a coupé owner myself I guarantee that potential owners will be more interested in the word “trendy”. Our ice white test car arrived on optional 17-inch “Styx” alloy wheels… which were painted white.

The cool body and wheel colour is a striking contrast to the aforementioned black plastics, windows and glass hatch. White wheels might pose cleaning and pavement nightmares but, as my Dad would correctly point out, you should learn to park and occasionally wash the second most expensive investment you’re likely to make.

So far, this Volvo is undeniably trendy and the trend continues on the inside. The Scandinavians excel at solidly built interiors which mix design flair with ease of use. Simple but crisp displays and dials live next door to good materials and the trademark floating centre dash piece.

Both front seats are comfy and relatively supportive; the rear ones offer similar comfort but pinched head- and leg-room. Small children in the morning and drunk friends at night won’t have much to complain about, but a full quartet of adults will feel slightly cramped and should pack lightly. Those huge rear windows also provide great rear ¾ visibility.

But the Volvo C30’s true calling is as stylish transportation for singles and/or couples; which it does superbly. Basic kit includes front electric glass and mirrors, power steering, remote central locking, CD/mp3/Aux radio, climate control, cruise control and lots of leather.

Unsurprisingly, the Volvo is big on safety as is demonstrated by its brochure – which puts safety specifications first. These include airbags and side impact protection, anti-whiplash protection, ABS brakes with EBD and EBA, stability and traction control, ISOFIX mountings, motion and inclination sensors.

Unfortunately, Volvo charges extra for cool stuff like wheels or trim packages, blind spot monitoring, keyless drive, rear parking sensors, a rear spoiler, sport chassis, Bi-Xenon and LED lights, rain sensor, sunroof, electric and/or heated seats, more leather, a CD shuttle and bigger tunes, amongst others.

The upside of this is that some of these items are incredibly affordable. Those white Styx wheels only cost N$6,700 for the set. Metallic paint is under N$2,000. The parking sensors just over N$2,000. LED daytime running lights are a no cost option. And most are rolled into trim packages starting at N$8,000.

The cars themselves start at N$236,100 for a 1.6 and end at N$349,800 for the nutter turbo-R automatic. This C30 D2 model costs N$252,600 and comes with a 1.6-litre four-cylinder Turbo-Diesel churning out 84kW (115hp) or 270Nm, requiring an average of 4.3L/100km with CO2 emissions of 114g/km.

Please read those numbers again. Unbelievable, aren’t they? I’d love to tell you that this puny engine with its über-sparing consumption is sluggish and rubbish to drive but I can’t. It’s fantastic. You won’t win many traffic light grand-prix as 0-100km/h happens in 11.3 seconds and top speed is 5 kays shy of 200.

Mated to a tight chassis, great cornering ability, loads of driver/safety aids and a precise six-speed manual gearbox, the D2’s willing motor offers sufficient punch in all but low-speed, low-rev excursions. I thought that I would hate the tiny Diesel but the truth is that I loved it.

Acceleration junkies and serial tyre shredders best choose the 230hp T5, but everyone looking for a refined and hilariously economical C30 should pick the cheeky R2D2. It also comes standard with the five-year 100,000km Volvo Plan.


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