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First drive: Volvo C30 by a nose

Light on: Volvo's facelifted C30 hatch gets a diesel DRIVe version that sips just 3.8 litres per 100km.

Offbeat hatchback from Volvo sprouts a new face, an eco diesel option and fresh trim

4 May 2010

VOLVO’S C30 fronts the new decade with a heavy dose of botox, a light diesel engine application, more standard features and no increase in prices.

Out now from $34,950, the three-door, four-seater hatch adds to the eco car ranks in the form of the new $36,150 DRIVe model that only just trails the Ford Fiesta Econetic as Australia’s most economical car, beating out the Toyota Prius hybrid in the process.

Its 1.6-litre turbo-diesel unit joins the 2.0D four-cylinder turbo-diesel introduced in the last of the pre-facelift C30s in November 2009, which in turn usurped the old 2.4-litre D5 five-cylinder turbo-diesel that was available in the C30 since January 2008.

All MY10 C30 models boast an altered front-end appearance that is meant to connect them to the newer XC60 SUV and second-generation S60 sedan due out soon.

The redesign includes freshly minted front mudguards and bonnet, a new honeycomb grille featuring a larger ‘iron mark’ Volvo logo, restyled headlights, altered bumpers and a reshaped front air dam.

18 center imageLeft: Volvo C30 T5 R-Design. Below: C30 DRIVe.

A keener eye is needed to spot the changes to the rear, which basically run to more body-coloured or contrasting painted trim in place of black plastic panels as applied to the previous C30, and a revised bumper.

New-look wheels, a more visible exhaust pipe on the T5 performance model and updated colours complete the Volvo’s exterior visual titivations.

Inside the three-door hatch you will find invigorated hues and trims as well as a wider range of options.

Among the latter’s standout items are a new colour theme known as ‘Oyster Burst Deco’ for the trademark ‘floating’ centre console, an additional surface texture application dubbed ‘Burst’ after the Swedish Hagström guitars as used by rock icons Elvis Presley and Frank Zappa, and a café culture inspired colour combination called ‘Espresso Blond’.

Getting in on the wildly successful BMW Mini’s personalisation game is one of Volvo’s main aims with the MY10 C30 makeover.

“Individualisation is a basic tenet of the philosophy underlying the entire C30 range, and customers are given a wide range of choices in addition to the available colour and trim options,” Volvo states.

The rear parcel shelf is also made from a different material and also features its own fancy pattern insignia.

Underneath, the C30 gains what Volvo calls a “considerably sharper” sport chassis option.

For $800 extra, the sport chassis offers more precise steering thanks to stiffer suspension bushings and a 10 per cent faster rack, 30 per cent harder springs for better poise, firmer dampers that are of the mono-tube variety for more efficient pressure properties, and stiffer anti-roll bars to cut body lean through corners.

On the safety front, all cars gain Volvo’s Emergency Brake Light system that flashes the brake lights five times a second in a forceful stop while travelling at more than 60km/h. When the vehicle’s speed dips below 10km/h the hazard flashers take the place of the blinking tail-lights. Volvo says they can be manually deactivated or will disengage automatically once the speed exceeds 10km/h.

High economy with lowest-possible emissions is the goal of the C30 DRIVe’s 1.6-litre engine, introducing idle-stop technology to Volvo to help achieve an average 3.8 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle, as well as a Fiesta-equalling (but not Prius-beating) 99 grams per kilometre of carbon dioxide pollution.

Relayed to the front wheels via a five-speed manual only gearbox, power and torque are rated at 80kW at 4000rpm and 240Nm at 1750rpm respectively. This engine is closely related to the Fiesta Econetic’s unit, as well as the one found in the Mini D, Citroen C3, Citroen C4, Peugeot 207 and Peugeot 308 – among a host of other models.

Otherwise the previous C30’s engines carry over.

The mid-spec LE is history, leaving only the base S to use Volvo’s long-lived 2.4-litre twin-cam 20-valve five-cylinder petrol engine. It pumps out 125kW at 6000rpm and 230Nm at 4400rpm.

Delivered to the front wheels via a five-speed manual or five-speed Geartronic automatic gearbox, it helps propel the smallest Volvo from zero to 100km/h in 8.1 seconds (auto: 8.8) on the way to a 220km/h (a: 215) top speed.

Its combined average is 8.4L/100km (auto: 9.0) and emits 200g/km (a: 214) of CO2.

The other diesel, the recently introduced 2.0D, delivers 100kW at 4000rpm and 320Nm at 2000rpm, for a 9.5s 0-100km/h-dash time, a top speed of 205km/h, 5.9L/100km and 156g/km.

Interestingly the 2.0D is the only C30 to date to employ Ford’s Powershift dual-clutch transmission. All others – DRIVe excepted – offer Volvo’s Geartronic five-speed torque-converter automatic.

Finally there is the evergreen 2.5-litre twin-cam 20-valve five-cylinder turbo petrol T5 powerplant, offering a six-speed manual as standard and producing 169kW at 5000rpm, 320Nm from 1500 to 5000rpm, a 0-100km/h time of 6.7s (auto: 7.1s) and a 240km/h V-max (auto: 235km/h). On the flipside fuel consumption and emissions are rated at 8.7L/100km (auto: 9.4) and 208g/km (auto: 224) respectively.

The latter is the engine found in the revised T5 R-Design model fitted with front and rear spoilers, colour-coded side skirts, chrome-plated exhaust tips, embossed front seats, a leather/aluminium gearshift knob, aluminium pedals and a unique blue speedo/tacho presentation.

Finally, the MY10 C30 gains two ‘high-value’ packages.

The ‘Teknik Pack’ adds satellite navigation, Blind Spot Identification System, Active Bending Lights, Rear Park Assist, Bluetooth, a headlight washer system and $3700 to the T5, or $6350 to the 2.4i S and 2.0D.

Buyers can instead opt for the Komfort Pack that brings with it keyless entry, rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dim mirror, laminated side windows, heated front seats and electrically adjustable front seats. It bumps up the T5’s price by $2275, or $2600 for the 2.4i S and 2.0D.

In all other respects, the D5 is identical to all other C30s.

That means it uses the same coil-over strut front and multi-link independent rear suspension system with anti-roll bars all round, electro-hydraulic powered rack and pinion steering set-up and four-wheel disc brakes.

The three-door four-seater C30 is built on the same C2 platform as the Volvo S40, V50 and C70 models and shares most of their underpinnings. It is built in Belgium, and is also related to the Mazda3 and Ford Focus.

“The Volvo C30 has always been a car with a distinct personality," says Volvo Car Australia managing director, Alan Desselss.

“The new range offers more choice than ever before in a refreshed package that reinforces the vehicle's visual and emotional appeal."
2010 Volvo C30 pricing:
2.4i S $34,950
2.4i S (a) $36,450
1.6 DRIVe $36,150
2.0D Powershift (a) $37,950
T5 $43,450
T5 (a) $44,950
T5 R-Design $47,150
T5 R-Design (a) $48,650

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