As Auto Trader releases figures showing searches for white cars are up 600%, we round up the best new examples and look back at some horrors from the past
On test: Volvo C30 1.6D SE review (2007 onwards model)
Image © Ford
- Model: Volvo C30 1.6D SE
- Bodystyle: 3dr hatchback
- Engine: 1.6-litre, 4-cylinder turbodiesel
- Transmission: 5–speed manual
What is it?
Volvo wants you to think of the C30 as a two-door “Sports Coupé”. Certainly with its unusual and distinctive glass tailgate it has overtones of past Volvo coupés like the “Saint’s” P1800 and the later 480 ES. The reality, though, is that this is much closer to being a premium hatchback with sporting pretensions than a genuine coupé. That may not matter. The C30 still has bags of unique character and there’s room to carry four adults without too much of a squeeze. There’s a staggering range of eight engines with prices starting at under £15k. This 1.6D SE is £17.3k without any options.
Where does it fit?
The C30 is the entry-level Volvo, based around the mechanical package of the S40 and V50, but more compact and more affordable. Dig deep and you’ll find Volvo hasn’t really targeted other coupés at all, but people who currently own small hatchbacks, those wanting to downsize and, above all, owners of the Audi A3. The C30 is pitched, pricewise, extremely closely to the Audi, though without the possibility of a five-door C30 (the design simply won’t accommodate it) the versatility is more limited.
##%Compare the Volvo C30 and the Audi A3 side-by-side[[%LNK|CompareOverview||||672^^74643142007,504^^4681152007%]]1%##
Is it for you?
Volvo hopes the C30 will appeal to a younger audience, many of whom will be new to the brand. The key question is does Volvo have an image as desirable as BMW and Audi? Well, the company is getting there and there is the advantage that Volvo sells far fewer cars and therefore can be seen to be more exclusive. The design of the C30 is highly distinctive, which won’t please everyone but gives others the opportunity to buy a car that will get them noticed.
What does it do well?
Even with this smaller-engined diesel, the C30 is a surprising good car to drive. The engine pulls keenly from low revs, the 1.6 (also seen in the Focus, Peugeot 307 and Citroens) is one of the most modern designs around, and it feels it. There really is little compromise to be made by choosing a diesel over a petrol car when they are this good. The gearchange has a short-travel and is well weighed – a delight to use, in fact. The power steering doesn’t transmit the best feel of the road, but so few cars do these days, and there’s not a lot wrong with it. Certainly the C30 turns in accurately to corners and then handles in a satisfying manner.
What doesn’t it do well?
The suspension is firm whichever the C30 you choose, but the further up the range you go, the bigger the wheels and the less restful the ride. For most this won’t be an issue – this is being sold as a sporty car, after all – but those transferring down from a larger Volvo might prefer a little more suppleness in the springing.
What’s it like to live with?
The seats do a good job of damping out the firm springing. They are well shaped, supportive and very comfortable, with a pretty extensive range of adjustment. Rear legroom is readily balanced with front to allow four to travel with reasonable room. The C30 is relatively wide which means good shoulder room in front while the two individual rear seats are pushed inwards to free up space there. Headroom in the back is far better than it looks. The boot is shallow and the entire luggage is on display through that glass rear window unless you specify the hastily conceived optional luggage cover. iPod connectivity is standard on all Volvos.
##%An overview of the C30 range[[%LNK|VipOverview||Volvo|C30|%]]2%##
How green is it?
The CO2 figure for the 1.6 diesel is 129g/km compared with 151 g/km for the two-litre diesel. Both are markedly better than the petrol C30s: the 1.8 is 174 g/m, the same as the 2.0-litre and 7g higher than the 1.6 petrol. The combined economy figure for the 1.6D is a staggering 57mpg. Even if you drive it hard you’ll still get good economy figures, and these are pleasing results for a car with this level of performance.
Would we buy it?
Volvo’s C30 is a fresh slant on the hatchback genre and it’s likely to have considerable appeal to those bored with the usual run-of-the-mill competition. We’ll even concede, only a little grudgingly, that it could be considered a coupé – the twin rear seats and glass tailgate are standout features you don’t routinely find on family cars. The fly in the ointment the massive premium Volvo charges for its diesels – a staggering £2,000 between petrol and diesel 1.6s. That makes even the 1.8 petrol C30 the appealing choice at the affordable end of the range.
##%Compare the Volvo C30 and the BMW 118d side-by-side[[%LNK|CompareOverview||||249^^8080112007,672^^74643142007%]]3%##
related stories on msn
Latest Cars videos
On the road with the landmark Lambos for special golden anniversary drive.
Date 13/05/13, Duration 4:26, Views 9317