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By Volvo C30 T5 SE (2006) CAR review
04 October 2006 10:00
Well, yes and no. The C30 is Volvo’s fourth car – after the S40, V50 and C70 coupe-cabrio – off the Ford C1 platform which also underpins the Focus family. That bodes well for dynamics, and means the C30 launches with an impressive choice of eight engines, borrowing the engineering work done for its bigger-selling brethren. There are five petrols from 99bhp to the 217bhp T5 we test here, and three diesels from 108bhp to 177bhp. But the C30 has been badged as a model in its own right, gets very distinctive styling and has been set the task of recruiting new, younger buyers who have never considered a Volvo before. The firm has seen sales of the BMW 1-series and Audi A3 explode and wants a slice of the premium hatch market, which keeps growing as buyers switch away from mainstream hatches and saloons to SUVs, MPVs and sports cars, or desirable entry-level cars from the premium makers. Volvo sees the C30 as one of the latter, but has priced it quite aggressively, with the cheapest 1.6S starting at £14,750, deep in Focus territory. Remember, the last time Volvo launched a new car in a new segment was the XC90 in 2002, and that wasn’t exactly a failure…
That’s the idea. The firm wants to bring all its brand values – comfort, design, safety – to a new sector of the market. You’ll love it or you’ll hate it, but you won’t mistake it for anything else. The nose and hallmark pronounced shoulders are pure Volvo, and the all-glass tailgate makes the rear end very distinctive and harks back to the 480 sports-hatch Volvo introduced in the late '80s. Inside the front cabin is a straight lift from the S40 and the others, which means serious quality for the money, distinctive design like the ‘flying’ central console, but a few ergonomic niggles like the tiny glovebox and fiddly stereo and heating control buttons. The individual rear seats – it’s strictly a four-seater – are comfortable and happily accommodate six-footers. The deep glass tailgate and side glass that curves inwards makes for great rearward visibility, but you have to lean in far over the deep rear bumper to access the boot.
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Volvo C30 T5 SE (2006) CAR review
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