It’s been T5 this and T5 that, I’m pleased to see you’re finally going to tell me about the C30 that I can afford to fuel.
We aim to please. Yes, the blown five-cylinder T5 sounds great and certainly delivers the goods (6.2sec 0-62mph) but it’s fond of a drink whatever Volvo’s official figures say. To be honest though, if covering marathon distances between stops is your thing, you’d be better off in the 1.6D (11.3sec to 62mph and an incredible 57.6mpg) although we’d probably take the more rounded 2.0D which manages 49.6mpg and still scoots to 62mph in 8.8sec.
So what’s the D5 all about?
It’s a kind of luxury performance C30 – luxury because it’s the most expensive model in the entire range, only comes in the top three trim levels and only with an auto box. The common rail unit stretches its 2.4 litres across five cylinders rather than the four of the other diesels and delivers a respectable 180bhp and 260lb ft of torque. For the record that’s 24lb ft more than either the T5 or 2.0d can some up and, although naturally it's down on power compared with the 225bhp petrol, its 44bhp on-paper advantage over the 2.0d tries hard to justify the £300 price difference.
You say on-paper advantage…
Well the D5 is markedly quicker than the 2.0d, hustling its way to 62mph in 7.8sec. A tussle with a Mini Cooper S proved the Mini was faster but there’s not much in it. But unless you’re hell-bent on not changing gear yourself (the 2.0D can’t be ordered with an auto box) We imagine most buyers would find it difficult not to save money and stick with the 2.0D. We’ll not know for sure until we’ve driven it but based on our experiences of the Ford Focus fitted with the same engine, it’s likely to be the pick of the range. It’s not as if the D5’s phenomenally refined, there being a little too much engine noise on hard acceleration for our tastes and most of the extra 50kg in the D5’s kerweight is located over the front wheels so it doesn’t feel as nimble.
What’s the rest of the car like?
Being based on the current Focus chassis, tidy handling comes as standard. It’s not riotous fun and there’s not an enormous amount of feel from the electro-hydraulic power steering but it still turns in neatly and manages to keep torque steer in check. And the cabin, with its floating centre console is pretty slick. It’s also incredibly comfortable: the seats soak up the miles and the steering wheel has loads of reach adjustment. If Ford used the same parameters for setting the Focus ST’s driving position it’d be a much better car than it is. Where the Volvo falls down is practicality. The rear is actually quite roomy, although there are only two seats back there, but the boot is pathetic. It’s small, the stupidly-shaped aperture means large objects are difficult to load and the parcel shelf is a bit or tarpaulin.
The D5 makes an interesting alternative to the hot-hatch T5 or an Audi A3 Tdi or BMW’s due-soon three-door 1-series, but it’s not cheap. SE-spec means £22,295 leaving your account and the top-spec Lux is an extra £1500. So it’s not just the car, but the pricing that’s premium here. The C30’s a likeable car but the D5’s not the best one to have.