First Drive - Volvo C30 D3 SE Lux
Can the C30 compete BMW 1 Series and the Audi A3?
Hear the word Volvo and perhaps, estates, Swedish and reliability come to mind. Back in 2006 the marque took a different direction with the launch of its C30. It was an attempt to test the water to discover whether they could compete with the BMW 1 Series and the Audi A3.
And now in 2012 the C30 is still going strong and those who did buy the car were bowled over by the brand’s famed reliability and longevity combined with the coolness of a hot hatch. Bulky and tough would be the words I would describe the nifty hatchback. Low slung windows, sleek lines and the addition of a black painted lower sill, wheel arch mouldings and LED daytime running lights on the SE Lux, make this a show stopper out on the roads. Add a rear spoiler and dual visible exhaust pipes and it definitely turns heads.
The rear has an all-glass tailgate. Some might say it looks quirky but I think it looks like a big smile – and that’s exactly what happens when you step inside the vehicle.
I tested the D3 SE Lux which as it suggests is luxurious. With the benefits of heated seats and leather upholstery, it has got to be one of the most comfortable cars I have ever driven. Even with the right number of seat belts, cars claiming to be five seaters would be hard pushed to fit them, in but this is most definitely only a four seater. It’s not overly roomy in the rear and one downside is the boot space, or lack of. A few bags in the back and the 251 litres had been used up. Not ideal if you’re taking it on your holidays and have a few suitcases.
The dash looks clinical and clean and the ‘floating’ aluminium centre console, which is a feature of the Volvo range, has a simple yet futuristic feel about it. I like the fact the Swedes have kept it neat, with no urge to clutter with a load of dials and buttons.
Switching on the car, it roars into life. First gear was a bit reluctant to pull away, but putting my foot down on the accelerator in second and this is where the five-cylinder 2.0-litre high performance turbodiesel engine does the business. On a few occasions I left cars trailing in my wake and cruising on the motorway, even in 6th gear the turbo really kicks in. A great long distance cruiser, you have to make sure on occasions you’re not breaking the speed limit and with a top speed of 130mph, you can easily see why this car would want to.
The diesel is the best to go for with the C30 and the D3 delivers a combined mpg of 55.4mpg providing good fuel economy, especially on long journeys.
As with all Volvos, the build of them always makes you feel safe whilst driving. The ride is stable and although the car grips very well, steering is quite heavy and doesn’t provide enough feedback.
Volvo is a pioneer of many safety features and the C30 has airbags, inflatable curtains for both front and rear passengers, the Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS) and Side Impact Protection System (SIPS).
Volvo seem to be fans of abbreviations – DSTC (Dynamic Stability and Traction Control), ABS brakes with EBD (Electronic Brake Distribution) and EBA (Electronic Brake Assist) can all be added to the safety list.
It is undoubtedly one of the best cars I have ever driven. It is comfortable, powerful and can stand tall amongst its rivals. When it was time to give it back, I reluctantly handed over the keys.
So how much will one of these cost? The Volvo C30 D3 SE Lux is priced at £23,365 and although some might struggle with the size, the latest offering from the marque, the all-new V40 might be the better option.
With Volvo you are buying reliability and a good long term investment, so with that in mind I think it’s time for me to go place my order for the C30.