Volvo introduced the C30 in 2006, a retro take on a historic model, the 1800ES. The R-Design version includes a sport-tuned suspension, while Volvo's tuning partner, Polestar, offers an option that increases power substantially.
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Although the C30 incorporates modern lines, the shape of the car evokes the 1800ES, an old vehicle from Volvo's lineup that used a shooting brake form.
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Volvo offers a variety of engines for the C30 in Europe, but the U.S. only gets the turbocharged 2.5-liter five-cylinder. With the Polestar power upgrade, this engine produces 250 horsepower.
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The C30 is longer than a typical hatchback, and includes room for four passengers plus cargo.
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The suspension tuning makes the front-wheel-drive C30 corner very well.
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One standard CNET editor can squeeze into the cargo area. The rear seats also fold down, increasing the available space.
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Volvo does an exceptionally nice job on the interior, with two-tone leather seats and a floating console.
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The twin bucket rear seats limit rear passenger room, although the two that can sit back here will be very comfortable.
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The cabin tech in the C30 is piecemeal, the navigation system being a separate component mounted at the top of the dashboard. A radio display lower in the dashboard shows stereo and phone information.
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The steering proved very responsive in the C30, tuning typical of European cars.
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The blue dials in the instrument cluster are courtesy of the R-Design trim.
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The six-speed manual shifts very precisely, but with an ease typical of European transmissions. A five-speed automatic is also available.
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Some of the cabin tech features feel a little basic, but the audio sources, with Bluetooth streaming and HD Radio, are up-to-date.
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This radio display is barely adequate to show the music library of a connected iPod.
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The Bluetooth phone system includes a contact list for a paired phone, but the buttons on the console make it difficult to navigate.
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The navigation system, a separate component, flips up from the top of the dashboard. The interface isn't very intuitive, with a row of icons on the left side of the screen.
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The quality of the maps in this navigation system is good, and the system includes traffic data.
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Entering an address using the controls on the back of the steering wheel can be very tedious.
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