I get to choose a new company car. Now, personally I’m not fond of german cars. I don’t like the feel of them. I am however fond of italian cars. Like Alfa Romeo. But Alfa’s tend to be expensive in leasing. And then someone suggested the C30.

My past Volvo driving experiences always failed to impress me, so I wasn’t expecting too much out of it, but I figured I didn’t have anything to lose by taking one for a test spin.

The C30

C30
C30

A friend and I arrived at the local Volvo dealer around 1 PM curious about what the C30 would have to offer. Manu, my friendly and helpful sales representative made out our papers, and handed us the key to a Volvo V50 1.6D (he had no 1.6D C30 available, the V50 and the C30 have the same chasis and the former is only 40kg heavier then the latter) and released us into the wild. Half an hour or so later we returned, and we swapped the V50 for a 2.0D C30.

First impressions

Driving the C30 to our “test site”, I quickly discovered that this is a comfortable car. Not just a little bit so but quite a lot so. Obviously it’s not a top-line jag or a Range Rover, it’s a €20K car, but I had not expected this level of comfort on such a small car. Once you close the door everything goes quiet. Whilst driving road contact is virtually inaudible, the engine is soft and purry, and the environment is dropped to a very soft whisper.

The suspension filters out the uncomfortable bumps without being soft, the clutch is requires just enough force to be manageable, but is light enough to not tire out your foot in a traffic jam, and the brakes give you a delightful amount of control. The chairs offer good support, though the lower back support could be a tad better, and are adjustable to suit virtually everyones liking.

C30 Dash
C30 Dash

The dashboard is clean but functional (the way I like it) with everything in reach without having to stretch. You have plenty of space for your legs and (much to my surprise as this is a rare thing for me) the steering wheel was adjustable to my liking.

So what is it like in the corners

This was the big question for me. What is the car like doing corners? Does it do what you tell it to quietly, and then suddenly spin out of control without warning you? Does the traction control prohibit you from doing anything fun? Does it corner like a trolley cart? As it turns out the C30 is quite well behaved.

We arrived at our “test site” (a calm secluded residential area with wide roads, lots of roundabouts and good vision), and put the car to the test. We took some very short turns, some sudden changes in direction, and even forced it out of control (on a large bit of road without people or property around to damage ofcourse!)

This car behaves nicely! It is what I call a communicative car. It lets you know what’s going on, what kind of surface you are driving on, how much grip it has, when it is getting close to losing control of the road, etc. The grip of the C30 is good, and balanced in such a way that it’s fun. It has some understeer, but nothing to exaggerated. And it lets you recover. Even when I forced it out of control, all I had to do was ease of the throttle ever so slightly, correct my steering and I was back in control. This is not an unimportant aspect for a car. It is a forgiving car. And during all this, the traction control helped, but never got annoyingly meddlesome.

The Pro and Con lists…

Ok, lets have the pro and con lists

PRO:

  • A very comfortable car.
  • 2 full size back seats instead of 3 sort-of’s.
  • Amazingly good breaks with very good control.
  • Well behaved on the road, with good grip. And quite forgiving.
  • It’s fun to drive.

CON:

  • The engine is noticeably laggy in the lower RPM range (the 1.6D as well as the 2.0D).
  • The trunk entrance is small. It doesn’t bother me personally, but it might bother some.
  • The trunk cover takes more work to undo/refasten then I would be willing to put into it every time. It will probably be left undone in my car more often then not.
  • No iPod Kit available! This is a big one for me. Not a total deal stopper, but it is a point of annoyance.

Conclusion

This is a very nice car I would not mind owning. It has some downsides, but overall the C30 has my thumbs up.