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2012 Volvo C30 is Stylish Hatch with Coupe Appeal

By Arv Voss, May 5th, 2012

Volvo's C30 is the smallest vehicle in the Swedish carmaker's lineup. But don't let its compact stature fool you -- the 2012 C30 may well be the most expressive car in the Volvo stable.

Manufacturer photo: The C30 with its unmistakable style changes the way people think about Volvo, appealing to the young and young at heart
Manufacturer photo: The C30 with its unmistakable style changes the way people think about Volvo, appealing to the young and young at heart

The two-door C30 displays familiar Volvo design cues, but with a twist -- the rear view draws from an earlier concept vehicle that made its debut a couple of years ago, featuring lots of glass and a curvy pinched tail-end treatment.

The four-passenger interior features a functional design with several unique refinements that offer a high level of both comfort and flexibility, combined with a feeling of spaciousness. Like all Volvo seats, the front seats are ergonomically designed for exceptional support. Moving the seat forward and rearward, for convenient access to the rear seat is easy, with the tapered design of the B-pillar contributing to the ease of ingress and egress.

The rear features two bucket-style seats positioned toward the center of the car, providing a good forward vision, which also provides space for storage in the side panels. To provide maximum interior flexibility, the rear seat backrests individually split and fold flat.

Performance is courtesy of a 2.5-liter, 20-valve turbocharged inline 5-cylinder engine with Variable Valve Timing. The transversely mounted front engine produces 227 horsepower and 236 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,500 through 5,000 rpm. It mates to either a standard 6-speed manual gearbox or a 5-speed "Geartronic" microprocessor-controlled automatic with "Auto-stick" function.

Manufacturer photo: The C30 with its unmistakable style changes the way people think about Volvo, appealing to the young and young at heart

The C30 is offered T5, T5 Premium Plus, T5 Platinum, T5 R-Design, T5 R-Design Premier Plus and T5 R-Design Platinum. The base price for the T5 starts at $24,950, while the R-Design begins at $27,450. The 5-speed Geartronic automatic transmission is a $1,250 option. Add the $1,295 Polestar Performance Tuning Package and you'll increase the stock horsepower from 227 to 250 and boost the torque from 236 to 273 lb.-ft.

Polestar Performance Tuning Package's custom Engine Control Module increases turbo boost, re-optimizes spark timing, fuel-mixture, along with several other parameters for engine control, and it recalibrates throttle mapping to increase throttle response.

My test Volvo C30 was a T5 R-Design Platinum. The base sticker read $27,450 while the addition of the Platinum Package, Climate Package, Polestar Performance Tuning Package and destination charge elevated the final total price to $35,720.

The C30 T5 R-Design presents an attractive design, exuberant performance and a surprising level of interior volume. The 2012 Volvo C30 T5 R-Design Platinum Polestar version serves up a unique and distinctively different look for the Volvo clan. The styling is sleek -- and to some, maybe even sexy.

Built according to the same principles as the other Volvo cars, the C30 provides a solid body with wide front and rear tracks and a relatively long wheelbase, that all contribute to confidence-inspiring and stable driving characteristics. The chassis, with MacPherson front suspension and a multi-link rear axle, is optimized to provide optimum control and precise driver input response.

Manufacturer photo: The C30 with its unmistakable style changes the way people think about Volvo, appealing to the young and young at heart

The power delivery is most impressive thanks to the turbocharged engine and Polestar Performance Tuning. The handling dynamics are just that -- dynamic. Steering response is positive with good feedback. The ride quality may be another story for some. I found it to be just fine, but no doubt some test-drivers may feel that it is too firm -- or even harsh. But hey, you can't have everything; crisp handling and ride comfort are often in conflict.

Specifications

Base price $27,450 (as tested: $35,720)
Curb weight 3,211 lbs.
Displacement 2.5-liter
Engine type 20-valve 5-cylinder turbo
Epa mileage rating 21 mpg city, 29 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 15.9 gal.
Horsepower (net) 250 at 5000 rpm
Overall length 167.4 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 273 at 1500-5000 rpm
Transmission 6-speed manual
Vehicle type 4-passenger FWD compact hatch
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