Frank S. Washington, Fri, 31 Jul 2009 11:27:30 PDT
DETROIT - A brand new Volvo for $23,920. You'd think it didn't get any better than that but it did. The 2008 Volvo C30 was really fun to drive.
You're not going to see too many Volvo C30s. Pundits say because of the monetary exchange rate Volvo loses money on every C30 it sells in the U.S. So the Swedish automaker isn't spending a bunch of bucks to push the C30 here.
Still, the two-door hatchback is meant to get a younger buyer into Volvo showrooms and different ones too boots. The bottom line is the C30 expands Volvo's customer base very nicely. It's a small, energetic and nimble two-door hatchback that was an exhilarating drive.
The car was powered by a 2.5-liter, inline five cylinder engine that made 227 horsepower and 236 pounds-feet of torque. Our test car featured the six speed manual transmission but a five speed automatic is also available.
This car was quick, real quick. Volvo estimates that the C30 can scat from zero to 60 mph in a respectable 6.2 seconds and it has an electronically limited top speed of 149 mph. The C30 doesn't look that fast but some aggressive driving here let us know that the car's power should be respected.
There was virtually no torque steer in the front-wheel-drive C30, until the gas pedal was really pushed during a turn. That's when we felt the cars power coming through the front wheels. We backed off the pedal quickly.
Wheels are at the corners and pushed out so that they are almost flush with the body panels. This made the C30 highly maneuverable. It is 8.5 inches shorter than the Volvo S40 sport sedan and about 320 lbs. lighter.
But its small size didn't amount to diminished driving, especially in two areas. The first was presence; the C30 simply drove bigger than it was. What that means is the car didn't make us feel like were driving an arguably subcompact hatchback.
And when we put the C30 on the Interstate headed for Lansing, it tracked well and effortlessly cruised right on down the road at better than 80 mph. There was one thing lacking in our base 1.0 model (there's also a 2.0 model), it didn't have cruise control.
Other than that the base package was quite satisfying. It had a single disc CD player which included MP3 capability, manual tilt/telescoping steering wheel, heated side view mirrors and an auxiliary audio jack.
The front seats were quite spacious. We never felt cramped. There was plenty of head room and leg room was sufficient. But we do wish the dead pedal was a little wider to provide more support for the off foot.
And we were surprised when we got two really huge duffle bags into the cargo space, plus a roll on bag. The cars swept back roof belied its cargo capacity which was 20.2 cubic feet with the second row seats folded. However, the lift over could have been a little lower but it wasn't bad.
Still, the C30 handled the bulk of the baggage as well as the weight of the person who went with it normally. In other words, there was no change in acceleration, suspension reaction, lean in the curves, nothing.
It's too bad Volvo can't be enticed into shipping more C30s here. But if it's a case of the more you sell the more money you lose, then it makes sense to keep the numbers low. Still, a brand new Volvo for $23,000 is hard to keep quiet about.