I can’t think of a modern front driver I’ve had more fun in. What a joyful car. If it were all-wheel drive, I’d be lusting after one.
This shape is one of my favorite hatchback designs of all time and the glass third door is cool, even if it doesn’t provide much of an opening. I love the wacky blue color, the subtle body kit and the black wheels. Even if the range of color choices isn’t exactly tasteful, the driving experience justifies a little chromatic exuberance.
The manual transmission is a real joy to operate, though the clutch could be a little heavier. The motor, though, is fantastic. It’s really snappy, quick on the boost and it pulls for days. I hope we never see the end of the inline five — nothing sounds like an inline five-cylinder.
The interior could use an update, but it’s far from bad, and since they’ve been building these things since 2006, I’d say it’s better than acceptable.
Obviously, the price is a little high, but I’d imagine that, if they were to build more than 250 of them, Volvo would be able to knock that down some. Volvo should consider it.
EDITOR WES RAYNAL: Cool car. Don’t know that I’d take one over a Volkswagen GTI or Golf R (in fact, I probably wouldn’t) but it’s a fun little scooter nonetheless, and you wouldn’t see yourself coming and going. Sure is blue, but I generally like these R-Design Volvos. To me, they offer just the right amount of good-looking trim — body kit, bigger wheels and such — without being overbearing.
This is a nice, flexible engine; you can pretty much stick in third gear and do the commute. The car rides well, too, like most Volvos. I’d like these seats over the long haul, again like most Volvos — among the best in the biz. The rest of the interior looks like quality, though I’d point out the center stack’s buttons for heat/vent and such are too small and fiddly.
The car is nicely composed on the road and the steering isn’t quite as numb as standard Volvos, though you can torque steer the thing all over the place if you put your right foot down. The gearbox is messy, rubbery.
Again, this car would be a hell of a lot better off in the marketplace if the GTI didn’t exist. Or the Mazdaspeed 3 or the Focus ST or …
ROAD TEST EDITOR JONATHAN WONG: It’s pretty cool how Volvo is pushing its relationship with Polestar and rolling out more performance-oriented models. It’s kind of like what Alpina is to BMW.
And I must say, they did a great job with this limited edition C30. It’s a nice send-off for Volvo’s small hatchback. With some ECU software upgrades and an increase in boost, Polestar squeezed an additional 23 hp and 37 lb-ft of torque out of the inline five-cylinder.
On top of that, this hatchback looks fantastic with the Rebel Blue paint job and matte black wheels. There are no garish wings or anything that’s too over the top. Yeah, the paint job may turn some people off, but I like it a lot. Only 250 of these babies were made, and I honestly wouldn’t fault anyone for getting one.
As far as Volvos go, the C30 is the most entertaining model I’ve had the pleasure of driving. The engine is responsive and strong and has a super wide torque band with all 272 lb-ft available between 1,500 and 5,000 rpm, which means there is some torque steer to deal with. Throttle responsive is respectable, but the shifter rubbery and not very precise.
I also didn’t like the pedal placement. The gas pedal is set substantially lower than the brake pedal, which isn’t so good for heel-and-toe downshifting.
When you throw the car around some bends, there’s good grip before the car begins to understeer. Steering feel is a light and feedback is lacking, but it’s responsive to inputs.
Ride quality is also comfortable. Combine that with a back seat that is usable and this car would be alright as an entertaining daily driver.
I have to say that I’m going to miss the C30.
2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition
Base Price: $28,745
As-Tested Price: $35,545
Drivetrain: 2.5-liter turbocharged I5; FWD, six-speed manual
Output: 250 hp @ 5,000 rpm, 273 lb-ft @ 1,500-5,000 rpm
Curb Weight: 3,211 lb
Fuel Economy (EPA City/Highway/Combined): 21/29/24 mpg
AW Observed Fuel Economy: 21.6 mpg
Options: C30 Platinum package including navigation, Volvo premium sound, Sirius satellite radio, power moonroof, power driver seat with memory, power passenger seat, dual xenon headlights, digital compass ($5,000); R-Design package with Rebel blue paint, 17-inch black alloy wheels and Polestar edition increase to 250 hp ($1,000); Climate package including heated front seats, electronic climate control, interior air quality system ($800)