Volvo’s 2012 C30 is the smallest vehicle in the Swedish carmaker’s lineup. But don’t let its diminutive stature fool you – it also may well be the most expressive car in the Volvo stable. The coupe styling 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. In genuine Volvo fashion, the C30 was developed to be a very safe car in addition to being attractive.
The C30 is 8.5” shorter and weighs roughly 320 pounds less than Volvo’s S40 sport sedan. Despite the C30’s reduced length, there’s enough room to accommodate four adults and their gear.
Power is courtesy of a 2.5-liter DOHC, 20-valve Turbocharged inline 5-cylinder engine with Variable Valve Timing. The transversely mounted front engine produces 227 horsepower at 5000 rpm, and 236 lb.-ft. of torque between 1500-5000 rpm. It mates to either a standard 6-speed manual gearbox or a 5-speed “Geartronic” microprocessor-controlled automatic with “Auto-stick” function. Both transmissions meter power to the front drive wheels.
The 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 to offer outstanding support. Moving the front seat forward and rearward, for convenient access to the rear is easy, with the tapered design of the B-pillar contributing to the ease of ingress and egress. The rear features bucket-style seats positioned toward the center of the car, providing a good forward vision, which also offers space for storage in the side panels. To provide maximum interior flexibility, the rear seat backrests individually split and fold flat. Folding them may be done when standing behind the car, or from the passenger compartment.
The C30 is a Volvo that lets the customer choose the way he or she wants it, by offering a variety of trim levels (a base T5, a T5 Premium Plus, the T5 Platinum, T5 R-Design, T5 R-Design Premier Plus and T5 R-Design Platinum), option and performance packages.
Base price for the 2012 C30 T5 is set at $24,950, while the R-Design begins at $27,450. The 5-speed Geartronic automatic transmission is a $1,250 option. Add the Polestar Performance Tuning Package, which increases the stock horsepower from 227 to 250 and boosts the torque from 236 to 273, and you will need to tack on another $1,295.
Polestar Performance Tuning is made specifically for Volvo and delivers true power rather than a bolt-on solution providing enthusiasts with optimal performance with no effect on rated fuel economy or emissions and trouble-free performance with full factory warranty coverage. The Polestar Package’s custom Engine Control Module tuning 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. It is available as an accessory for all C30 models from 2008-2012 and several other model Volvos as well. Polestar has been Volvo Car’s official partner since 1996 in the development of performance parts for Volvo production cars.
The basic C30 platform yields a well-thought out design, making it both fun to drive as well as to visually behold. 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 Multilink rear axle, is optimized to provide optimum control and precise driver input response.
My test Volvo C30 was a T5 R-Design Platinum model with the Climate Package and Polestar Performance Tuning Package. The base sticker read $27,450 while the addition of the Platinum Package, Climate Package, Polestar Performance Tuning Package and Destination and Handling elevated the final total price to $35,720. It was finished outside in an Ice White metallic with the interior done in an Ebony, Ivory, Charcoal and Satin Silver theme.
The 2012 Volvo C30 T5 R-Design Platinum Polestar version serves up a unique and distinctively different look for the Volvo clan. It is instantly recognizable as a Volvo, but it is certainly a far cry from your Uncle Sven’s early, “in-the-box” design quality. The styling is sleek and to some, maybe even sexy, and despite its small packaging, the interior volume is surprisingly roomy.
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 is another story – I found it to be just fine, while some will no doubt 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.
Going for the top trim level and adding all possible options, can certainly boost the cost of a C30 to a lofty level, but it certainly seems to be well worth it. This is without a doubt my favorite Volvo. The C30 T5 R-Design presents an extremely attractive design. exuberant performance and a surprising level of interior volume.