Volvo C30 (2006): first official pictures

Published: 25 July 2006

The lowdown

This is the Volvo C30, a rakish three-door set to take on the BMW 1-series and Audi A3. Unconventionally, this hatchback only has four seats; conventionally, it mounts its engines across the nose and sends power to the front wheels. The C30 is scheduled to arrive in UK showrooms in December. Prices will start at £14,750.

Design: beauty or beast?

Today’s Volvos are solidly engineered but hard to lust after. Could the C30 hatch break the mould, and be that Volvo you love passionately and unconditionally? The handsome C30 certainly looks the part. It’s funkier than an A3, not as funky as a 1-series – and that’s the design sweet spot in the premium hatchback segment. The design is pure Volvo. Either side of the trademark grille are set-back headlamps that eat into the flanks, a device used on the XC90 to make it look more compact. Those shoulders get broader towards the rear, where the cabin tapers and the roofline drops. And the back end is hugely distinctive. The widescreen rear glass borrows heavily from iconic Volvos, the 1970s P1800 ES and 1980s 480. It’s framed by red lamps that ooze down from the roof spoiler like a lava flow, spreading out to cover those shoulders. If it all feels familiar, that’s because the production model is a virtual carbon copy of the C30 Design Concept, which Volvo has been tarting around this year’s motor show circuit. Only the concept’s bronze undertray, paralellogram pipes and 19-inch rims have bitten the dust. C30 wheels span 16 to 18 inches in diameter.

Under the skin

Sporty, small yet safe – that was the C30 brief. By mounting the engines across the nose, Volvo has kept the C30 compact. At 4250mm-long, it’s almost identical in size to the A3. That said, the BMW 1-series – whose driver focused layout (inline engines/rear-drive) is unique among hatchbacks – is barely any longer, although at the expense of its rear seats which are as welcoming as a stretch in Guantanamo. The C30 is also shorter than its not-so-distant cousin, the Ford Focus, with whom it shares components. The electro-hydraulic steering and suspension design are common to the the S40 (and Focus), so the C30 should ride smoothly and have decent, meaty steering. The Swedes vow that a small Volvo can still be safe. Its front end crash structure is lifted from the S40, which scored a maximum five stars in the Euro NCAP impact tests. Volvo’s anti-whiplash head restraints and side impact protection system also figure, along with standard curtain airbags that cover both rows of seats. The BLIS blind spot information system, which uses a digital camera to monitor any obscured vehicles in the outside lane and gives an amber signal in the event of danger, is an option. A broad line up will include four- and five-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, so there���ll be a C30 for everyone from the VFM 1.6 to a T5 turbo hot hatch, and maybe beyond. Power is sent to the front wheels via five- and six-speed manuals and the five-speed Geartronic automatic.

Under the bonnet

In the cabin (1)

If you need to seat five, look away now. Volvo’s dream customer is a successful 20-something in London, Paris or Berlin with little need for rear seats, although the reality is more likely suburban empty nesters. Regardless, the C30 is a strict four-seater. The two rear perches are placed inboard, to maximise side impact protection and accommodate that tapered, boat hull effect with causing claustrophobia.

In the cabin (2)

The dashboard design – with its centre mounted key and slim, elegant floating centre stack – is shared with the S40.

What next…?

There won’t be a five-door version – that’s called the V50. But high performance, all-wheel drive models should arrive in time. Indeed, Volvo’s answer to the forthcoming Audi S3 quattro – a high pressure turbo version of the T5 kicking out 260bhp and powering all four wheels – is under consideration. It could wear the C30R badge. CAR Online will bring you the first drive of the C30 on 1 November. Then we’ll know for sure if this is a Volvo to genuinely set the pulse racing.

New C30: aggressive prices

Volvo’s new C30 hatch will aggressively undercut the BMW 1-series and Audi A3, with its £14,750 starting price. The C30 is available to from Spetember, with UK deliveries around the turn of the year. The Swedish manufacturer unveiled the C30 in Paris today (28 September), and revealed this dynamic SE Sport model for the first time. The SE Sport wears 18inch wheels, a discreet rear spoiler and deep skirting all round. The chocolate piping look, first shown on January 2006’s C30 concept car, is optional for those with a sweet tooth. The 1.6-litre petrol S is the £14,750 entry level model, which undercuts the A3 by £765 and the 1-series by £1245. Standard kit includes climate control, 16inch alloys and – because it’s a Volvo – safety features like stability control, anti-lock brakes, WHIPs anti-whiplash seats and six airbags. Seven engines will be offered, topped by the 217bhp 2.5-litre petrol fivepot stolen by the Focus ST and the 177bhp five-cylinder D5 diesel. The T5 petrol costs from £21,495 for the mid-range SE trim, the D5 SE is £22,295. SE models have 17inch alloys, cruise control, fog lamps, steering wheel audio controls, trip computer and rain senstive wipers. Each spec upgrade costs £1500 more than the previous trim level. The top SE Sport and SE Lux both cost the same, £3000 more than the base S trim, but the Lux trim majors on creature comforts, heated front seats and luxury floor mats.

What next…?

There won’t be a five-door version – that’s called the V50. But high performance, all-wheel drive models should arrive in time. Indeed, Volvo’s answer to the forthcoming Audi S3 quattro – a high pressure turbo version of the T5 kicking out 260bhp and powering all four wheels – is under consideration. It could wear the C30R badge. CAR Online will bring you the first drive of the C30 on 1 November. Then we’ll know for sure if this is a Volvo to genuinely set the pulse racing.

New C30: aggressive prices

Volvo’s new C30 hatch will aggressively undercut the BMW 1-series and Audi A3, with its £14,750 starting price. The C30 is available to from Spetember, with UK deliveries around the turn of the year. The Swedish manufacturer unveiled the C30 in Paris today (28 September), and revealed this dynamic SE Sport model for the first time. The SE Sport wears 18inch wheels, a discreet rear spoiler and deep skirting all round. The chocolate piping look, first shown on January 2006’s C30 concept car, is optional for those with a sweet tooth. The 1.6-litre petrol S is the £14,750 entry level model, which undercuts the A3 by £765 and the 1-series by £1245. Standard kit includes climate control, 16inch alloys and – because it’s a Volvo – safety features like stability control, anti-lock brakes, WHIPs anti-whiplash seats and six airbags. Seven engines will be offered, topped by the 217bhp 2.5-litre petrol fivepot stolen by the Focus ST and the 177bhp five-cylinder D5 diesel. The T5 petrol costs from £21,495 for the mid-range SE trim, the D5 SE is £22,295. SE models have 17inch alloys, cruise control, fog lamps, steering wheel audio controls, trip computer and rain senstive wipers. Each spec upgrade costs £1500 more than the previous trim level. The top SE Sport and SE Lux both cost the same, £3000 more than the base S trim, but the Lux trim majors on creature comforts, heated front seats and luxury floor mats.

By Phil McNamara

Editor-in-chief of CAR magazine

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