Volvo C30 D2 SE Lux Start/Stop road test review

Volvo C30 D2 SE Lux Start/Stop road test review

The TotallyMotor Verdict


The C30 is Volvo’s premium feel and premium-priced 3-door hatchback that’s aimed at those who seek style and individuality over the more family-friendly, 5-door kiddie-hauler side of life. No kids, an eye on style? Take a look at the C30. And, many friends and colleagues did just that during my week-long test drive with this deep-red-on-black Volvo hatch, and near every first impression was distinctly positive.

All good on the face of things then, but how did the C30 fair after 350 miles of commuting, motorway cruising and back lane fun-driving?


Volvo C30 D2 SE Lux Start/Stop road test review  

First impressions:
This red on black colour scheme suits the modern-looking – though it’s been with us for around six years now – Volvo C30. I think it’s fair to say that it’s a car like no other in its class and it sure photographs nicely on this sunny October day. Proportions are pleasant, shoulders are sturdy, and that rear end still looks groovy.

Cool on the outside and warm on the inside is how Volvo likes to describe their cars, and I’m thinking that there’s an understated finesse to this C30. And so do many of the people that see it during our week together.

It’s its style that’s probably the C30’s biggest selling point; for those that care not about rear seat room – although there is space for two adults in the back – or a wide and low boot entry for large loads from the dreaded Ikea. You certainly won’t be getting any sort of sideboard through this small and high boot aperture. But, hey, coffee tables are all the rage right now, right?


Into the interior:
This is the near top of the range Volvo C30 – the SE Lux trim – with only the racy-styled R-Design higher up the trim tree. The basic C30 with (nearly) the most frugal diesel engine in the range; the D2, comes in at £18,995 at the entry level. The SE Lux trim here adds a further £3,250. So, that’s a total of £22,245 for the C30 D2 SE Lux. I told you it was premium.

But, the good thing is that the premium price is reflected handsomely by the premium interior. Full, soft leather, sat-nav that folds into the dash and comes with an easy to use two-button and one-rocker remote control, dual-zone digital air-con, and a lovely ‘brushed aluminium’ trim decked all through the cabin. This silvery seducer also makes up the ‘floating’ dash – it has a pocket for storage behind it, basically. The aluminium trimming works beautifully on the super-neat centre console too – uncluttered and classy. The Mars bar-fingered out there might find the little buttons a touch mash-able, but the main knobs are an engineered breeze to twiddle.

Space is respectable; a little limited by the ‘pinched in’ design of the cabin, but there is room for four, and even at well over 6-feet tall, I was happy for hours in the driver’s seat. A good driving position with plenty of adjustment for seat and steering wheel are points of praise for the C30 from me.

I also enjoyed the weighty weight of the controls; from the pedals, steering, and to the gear shift, it all felt expensively put together. In short; a class act inside.

Extras on this car include power driver’s seat with memory (£600), heated from seats (£285), a premium audio system (£800) and blind spot information (£500). I could do without all of these except the stereo. Not super-loud but a lovely deep and rich sound to it, backed up with a centre speaker in the dash and a subwoofer tucked away in the back. In this car, with this stereo, you’ll be packing your favourite CDs before anything else.


The drive:
At first glance you’d think that perhaps a 1.6-litre diesel engine – albeit one backed up by a turbo – making 113bhp (at 3,600rpm) and 270Nm of torque (from 1,750 – 2,500rpm) might be a tad tardy on the tarmac. Official figures are 62mph in 11.3secs and a top speed of 121mph.

Less rabbit-like performance is a price to pay for a car that officially returns 65.7mpg on the combined cycle, but that doesn’t make this C30 D2 a drag to drive.

The torque is there early, the clutch and gearbox work beautifully together, and, using all six gears in the snicky box, I actually felt quite nippy at times. It’s quick enough to put a smile on your face and makes a pleasant little purr when you stretch the revs.

The brakes are powerful and predictable, and while the suspension is nicely firm – for my tastes – and keeps the C30 in composed control, it did get a little confused over some very choppy back lane surfaces; loosing grip from time to time when I thought there should still be some tenacity left. But I would only level this as a 5% complaint because most of the time the C30 holds its own on the chassis front. It’s very calm and quiet on the motorway and there’s a solid and engineered feel to almost every driving-feeling. The start/stop system didn’t trip up once either.

I covered 350 mixed miles in this C30 and I can only describe the experience as pleasantly premium, especially when the in-dash mpg-metre smiled its 55mpg smile back at me. That’s 55mpg in the real world with some hard driving and tons of commuting. Nice.


Ten second sum up:
The Volvo C30 is a premium 3-door hatchback that earns its premium tag. It still looks fresh, modern and stylish after a good few years on sale and delivers everything the Volvo brand would have you believe. And with 55mpg on the clock it’s hard not to be happy.


Prices and availability:
The Volvo C30 range starts at £15,295 for the ES model with a 2-litre petrol engine. Price as tested, £22,245, for the C30 D2 SE Lux, plus some options. Available now.

Words & pics: Daniel Anslow

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