What, another new small Volvo? Haven’t those Swedes only just revealed the ‘regular’ C30?
Yes they have but don’t think they’re going to stick to the range they’ve launched the car with. This model was commissioned by Volvo North America so they can see what a crossover version might look like. They’ve called it the XC30 in tribute to the XC90 because it’s had its ride height lifted by 30mm. As from today they’ll be showing it off to the SUV-obsessed Americans at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas. But under the skin it’s more like an even hotter version of the C30 T5.
The car was built by a German firm called Heico. They’re Frankfurt-based and specialise in making hot Volvos, a kind of. They’ve actually got aspirations to become to Volvo what Brabus are to Mercedes but that’s in the future. Back in the present they took a standard C30 T5 and gave it the kind of performance we might expect from a C30-R. Forget the current ‘hot’ model’s 217bhp. That looks like a shopping trolley compared to this 300bhp model which screams to 60mph in around 5.8sec, nearly a second quicker than a standard C30 T5.
Blimey, how have they done that?
It’s the same Ford Focus ST-derived engine, but the low-pressure 0.5 bar turbo is junked in favour of a 1.2 bar high-pressure version. There’s also a water spray function to keep the intercooler temperature down and further increase power. And to make sure you don’t burn all that extra muscle in a cloud of front tyre smoke Heico has given the XC30 the same four-wheel drive set up as the V50 AWD and tuned the suspension at the Nurburgring.
Can you tell?
Well from the way it drives you’d never know the ride height had been raised. The XC30 has the same poise and grip as a normal C30. The difference is in the power. It’s absolutely mighty and once you start accelerating the car just wants to keep going. Four-wheel drive does add unwanted weight o the chassis but with this much n power, it’s a must. The growly five-pot engine sounds the business too thanks to new stainless steel exhausts with four tail pipes. Torque has been increased from 235lb ft to 310 so around town you don’t have to get involved with the rather uninspiring gear change too much.
Any changes inside?
Yes but they’re subtle. The interior has been fitted out with black leather and looks classy if not terribly sporty. But the polished metal effect on the centre console and iPod and mobile phone adapters give things a welcome lift. Talking of which, the paint job on the outside is one part of this car that’s unlikely ever to make production. Heico joined forces with snowboard makers Burton to help make this car a little bit special. Hence a colour scheme designed to look like the latest in piste-grunge. They went to a lot of effort too. The car went through the paint shop seven times to get that finish.
If the XC30 points the way to a future hot C30-R, we’ve got a lot to look forward to. An SUV version might be a step too far but they’ve certainly done a nice job of showing what an upmarket grand tourer R version might be like on the road. That colour scheme is a bit OTT but the modifications to the engine and drive train make this the ultimate C30 and a desirable little package, although the likely £30k price might dampen your enthusiasm.