For the Volvo Enthusiast

Project C30 v.2.0: Introduction

Judging by public reaction in the first few weeks of driving our new C30, this car is going to make people re-think Volvo. It’s really quite an attention grabber; I’ve noticed other drivers speeding up and repositioning themselves in traffic just to get an up-close look at it. Driving with the windows down is an almost guaranteed conversation starter at red lights. I’m not exaggerating when I say the C30 has gotten more looks than anything else I’ve driven lately.

The most common question, of course, is “What is that?” Despite sharing virtually its entire front end with the S40/V50, the general public doesn’t immediately identify the car as a Volvo. And that is most likely because of the back end. For starters, Americans aren’t familiar with the notion of a hatchback Volvo. Second, that hatch is no ordinary hatch. The frameless glass door that plunges down deep into the bumper looks more exotic than your conventional, conservative Swedish hardware. Yeah, it gets a lot of attention.

The contrasting body kit and 18-inch wheels of our 2.0-packaged car are also responsible for catching so many eyes. It looks like a show car rolling down the road. I’m not sure most people know why they’re attracted to the little car, but my guess is the subtle body kit has a lot to do with it.

Another question I often get is about fuel economy, especially from current Volvo owners. It seems that most Americans still assume a small hatchback is automatically endowed with world-class fuel economy. Mileage has been respectable, averaging in the upper teens to low twenties, considering my daily commute is mostly stop-and-go traffic on a major Chicago highway that is currently under re-construction (go figure).

The particular C30 that’s joined our fleet is a Version 2.0 (v2.0) in the same metallic white with accenting metallic brown body kit as the original C30 concept car. Inside, there’s the dynamic-looking Kalix Offblack/Quartz Textile/T-tech Upholstery with Offblack carpeting. Options include the 5-speed Geartronic transmission ($1,250), front fog lamps ($295), trip computer ($100), Cruise Control ($185), leather clad sport steering wheel with aluminum inlay ($150), leather-clad gearshift knob with aluminum inlay ($100), leather-clad handbrake ($25) and integrated 6-disc CD changer with MP3/WMA capability ($475). It also has sport pedals ($75), sports floor mats ($156), surf pattern center stack ($150) and sport lowering kit ($287). All tallied, this brought our Project C30 to a grand total of $30,468.

Around the office, everyone has enjoyed driving the C30. Even with its Geartronic automatic transmission, it has proven to be a fun car to drive just about anywhere. The large wheels and sport suspension deliver a firm ride, but nothing as harsh as some tuner cars, including some of Volvo’s own R models. Handling is lively and the suspension feels fairly sophisticated for a front driver.

The 2.5-liter turbo engine is pretty ideal for the character of the C30. It boosts up quickly and is always reliable when squirting between lanes in rush hour. We haven’t really had a chance to run it out near full speed, but hope to do so soon.

We haven’t made up our minds on the interior yet. On the one hand, the seats are comfortable and supportive. On the other hand, they aren’t quite sport seats, and the T-Tech seating upholstery looks a bit like commuter airline materials. But it’s holding up well and has been easy to take care of. The floral graphic on the center stack, well, that’s been a point of colorful discussion for everyone that has been in the car. Plain old brushed aluminum would be a welcome change.

In the near future we intend to start making a few changes. The usual set of upgrades should be expected: an ECU to dial up the boost, suspension tweaks, etc., etc. We’ve all seen what Volvo can do to build over-the-top SEMA show cars, so the focus of this C30 will be more like what most owners with a penchant for modifications would consider in upgrading their daily driver. Beyond that, who knows? Everyone seems to like it just the way it is.

If you have any suggestions for plans to our C30, drop us a note at [email protected] or post in the forum link below.

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