This article was originally published in Issue 7 of EuroBerge and has been converted into a post on the site for your enjoyment. It was originally published on April 15th, 2010.
So many things could be said about the newly face-lifted 2011 Volvo C30 R-Design, but in fear of sounding like a record player and repeating what many others have observed, I am going to look at this new little hatch in a different light. Specifically, I am going to look at it in terms of its place in the world of hatches, and specifically, here in Colorado.
As we have stated many times in the past, Colorado provides an interesting backdrop for automotive enthusiasts. Very few cars have come to our roads capable of handling all the seasons that the state has to offer, and yet many of us put them through the test year round. Many excel in one area, but lack in others. Some fail at both. And very few meet every challenge head on with no hesitation.
Volvo has been one brand that has been able to handle the difficulties of this state. But, they have also built their image of safety and reliability, with a little fun here and there. Despite their ability to manage their primary safety image, the slang term of ‘mom-mobile’ has been hard to stray from over the past few years.
The Volvo C30 was meant to break this mold in 2007, but with no real excitement behind the wheel, it simply faded into the classic status of being good to look at, and nothing much else. But with the updated design and addition of the R-Design package, Volvo has brought a new little beast to our roads.
This car has the get-up-and-go that is required on our highways, where power is necessary just to merge onto a street. Under the hood is the same 227-horsepower turbocharged 5-cylinder engine that’s powered the U.S. market C30 since 2007, but with a new set of tuning to take care of some of the turbo lag found on previous models. Steering response is immediate, braking is strong, and the power just wants to take the car faster and faster.
Curves are no problem for the Volvo C30 R-Design, with a tight and controlled feel as the speed is maintained through the turn. I felt total control with every switchback and hairpin turn as I took the little hatch through the foothills. And the great thing was that it never let up as I pushed it harder.
While handling was amazing in town, I was even more impressed with the ride quality while cruising the so-called ‘well maintained’ roads of Fort Collins. With all the bumps, dips, and cracks that infest this road, the car was smooth and elegant to drive. I was comfortable both as driver and passenger, and was impressed with the smoothness of the ride.
Visual styling is spot on with older R-Design models, keeping the smooth shape of a typical Volvo, while adding visual cues that hint at what is under the skin. The nose of the car brings a striking look to the whole vehicle, completing the image that designers might have been going for in the first mode C30. The subtle badges on the car, small spoiler, and extra body pieces don’t detract from the elegance of the car, but add more flair to the styling.
Inside is typical Volvo, almost feeling more artistic than functional. There are design features that make the inside nice too look at, such as the outward-bound rings that surround the volume knob, or the floating center console. I fit comfortably in the front seats, but was not going to attempt the backs. Honestly, this is the car where you put the least liked person in the back. I personally would have loved to see it just as a two-seater with full storage in the back, but that can easily be setup with folding of the backseats.
So is this hot little hatch ready for the roads of Colorado? Yes. The C30 R-Design has the power to move, the comfort to make the drive nice, and the styling that is not too flashy, but subtle enough to keep eyes on it. This little hatch is the perfect addition to Volvo’s fleet and the ever growing market of small European vehicles to hit our roads.