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.
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.
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.
The C30 is longer than a typical hatchback, and includes room for four passengers plus cargo.
The suspension tuning makes the front-wheel-drive C30 corner very well.
One standard CNET editor can squeeze into the cargo area. The rear seats also fold down, increasing the available space.
Volvo does an exceptionally nice job on the interior, with two-tone leather seats and a floating console.
The twin bucket rear seats limit rear passenger room, although the two that can sit back here will be very comfortable.
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.
The steering proved very responsive in the C30, tuning typical of European cars.
The blue dials in the instrument cluster are courtesy of the R-Design trim.
The six-speed manual shifts very precisely, but with an ease typical of European transmissions. A five-speed automatic is also available.
Some of the cabin tech features feel a little basic, but the audio sources, with Bluetooth streaming and HD Radio, are up-to-date.
This radio display is barely adequate to show the music library of a connected iPod.
The Bluetooth phone system includes a contact list for a paired phone, but the buttons on the console make it difficult to navigate.
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.
The quality of the maps in this navigation system is good, and the system includes traffic data.
Entering an address using the controls on the back of the steering wheel can be very tedious.