For the Volvo Enthusiast

Project C30: EuroSport Tuning Strut Bar, 0-60 MPH Numbers, Studio Photography

Following a successful and entertaining weekend at the Carlisle Import Nationals show in central Pennsylvania, our C30 has bid adieu to its Hershey home to spend its closing months at Swedespeed’s Chicago office. The crew there, and specifically this author, absolutely loves the C30’s looks and many aspects of the way it drives (though our H&R coilovers have already turned two staffers’ wives off to the car.) But we’ve always felt the car could use a bit better steering response. Luckily, Frank Derks of EuroSport Tuning was at Carlisle and sent us home with his latest strut tower bar, offered for the C30, S40, and V50.

We were especially interested in EuroSport’s newly updated bar because of an underhood issue that’s had us putting off the installation of a brace. You see, the K&N Typhoon intake we’ve added to our C30 routes air through a large diameter tube along the top of the transverse engine, right along the path where a strut bar would go. With some bars, clearance is a huge issue.

Aware of this, Frank has redesigned his bar to be thinner vertically and fatter horizontally. It should mount high enough that we shouldn’t have any troubling side effects along with the improved rigidity the bar should offer.

Impatiently, we were already tearing into the C30’s engine compartment before the car could cool down from the 12-hour drive back to Illinois. Any of you who’ve done a strut brace job know that it’s among the easiest modification jobs one can do to his car. Loosen the three matching bolts arranged in a triangle atop each strut tower, set each brace bracket in place, and re-install the bolts. Then slide the bar into each bracket, tighten all the nuts and bolts, and the job is basically done.

However, our install did have one slight nuisance. Volvo placed a bracket holding five grounding points for various wires on the front edge of the driver’s side strut tower. The EuroSport bracket on that side is cut out to work around these wires, but we ran into a clearance issue between a ground bolt and the pin connecting the strut bar to the bracket. The fix was simple, if slightly less than professional. We simply bent the grounding bracket outward a quarter-inch or so, providing plenty of space between the two parts that wanted to occupy the same space. (Get a better look HERE.) With that settled, we finished the job, closed the hood, and went out to um, “test.”

While the clearance between the bar and our K&N Typhoon is certainly tight, (SEE UP CLOSE) we haven’t seen or heard the two pieces hitting one another, even in reverse or under hard acceleration, both of which cause the engine to shift on its mounts. We’ve heard of some people skipping the step of tightening a hard-to-get-to bracket holding the intake to the valve cover, and we expect that doing so could potentially increase the odds of the tube hitting the strut brace. We’re not interested in undoing our bracket to find out because, well, it’s a real pain to get on and off.

In terms of benefits, we have noticed a slightly quicker, more confident turn-in from our C30. Modern cars have advanced so far in rigidity that the gains aren’t as noticeable as in our project 850 T-5R, but the extra bracing does help the C30, which isn’t exactly Lotus Elise-rigid from the factory. And for just $200, the bar is a pretty decent value. Look for it at www.EuroSportTuning.com

On to the 0-60 mph deal. In our last update, we covered a few new performance modifications, a larger Bell intercooler and K&N’s Typhoon intake. These come on top of what was already an IPD chip-tuned motor. We’re estimating about 300 hp, but we haven’t hooked it up to a dyno. All routed through an open differential, it’s safe to say that our 6MT C30 needs to be on a dyno for any real “hooking up” to happen. Out on the street, traction is a privilege, not a right. And that pretty much explains how my test session went.

I tried a number of launches with different techniques, some with stability control on but most of them with it off. With our stock 18-inch rubber, the problem was simply finding a balance of power and grip. Launch too hard and the car will spin one tire all the way through first and well into second. Luckily, 60 mph is easily attainable in second gear, so there’s no need to leave more rubber behind with a second shift. Launch softly enough to avoid initial wheelspin and we’re left with the problem that diving into the throttle while in motion still induces wheelspin. If we modulate both, well, then the times displayed on the VBox aren’t so hot.

The majority of my runs returned figures between 6.0 and 6.3 seconds, but I found the sweet spot between power and grip especially well on one try, delivering a best-of-the-day 5.9 seconds. With some seriously sticky tires, I’m confident that number could be 5.5 seconds. With sticky tires and all-wheel drive, which would allow an X-rated sort of clutch dump, I’d easily bet $20 on the car running 5.2 seconds.

Also keep in mind that my 5.9-second figure is uncorrected and doesn’t account for a one-foot rollout adjustment (which usually knocks about 0.3 seconds off the time). It was 65 degrees and sunny on my test day at a fairly low (~700 feet) elevation. Using the adjustments and rollouts of some of the major magazines, our car could probably shed a few calculator tenths. But enough speculation�5.9 seconds is what we actually got out of our slightly modified C30, and we think that’s pretty amazing for a front-driver with an open differential. And regardless of what the readout on our windshield says, the C30 is thoroughly entertaining for blasting around the Windy City.

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