First reviews, more pictures of the latest, hottest cars
Sports Coupe Crying Out To Be Noticed
Aren’t Volvo’s Supposed To Be Understated, Utilitarian, Safe?
This One Is Sporty, Trendy, In Yer Face, And Pricey
Thoroughbred Competition Likely To Give C30 A Torrid Time
PALMA, Majorca When Volvo unveiled the new sporty little C30 at the Detroit Car Show last January, I wondered quite what the company was up to. Why challenge the likes of the Audi A3, BMW 1-series and Golf GTi on their own boy-racer high ground? Wouldn’t it be better to play to Volvo strengths of utility and safety?
Well. Volvo has been and gone and done it. With much talk of sportiness, fashion, trendiness and the young, Volvo has rekindled the spirit of its 1800ES, which also had a plunging glass rear door and died in 1973, and the Volvo 480ES’s cult following between 1985 and 1995. The hope is that a whole slew of people singles or couples with no children - who until now haven’t had a reason to stop by at Volvo, will be tempted in.
Sure, the C30 goes quickly and drives extremely well. But it’s hard for me to see how it can challenge the incumbents on their own ground. I also find it hard to take seriously the idea that this smaller version of the S40, with fewer doors and space, costs about the same. With prices at around £20,000, if you wanted a Sports Coupe would you pay attention to Volvo?
Volvo thinks so and the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. I stand ready to er, eat humble pie if that happens.
The car does look good, and will turn heads with its racy, wheel-at-each corner styling. The side windows narrow towards the rear, and there is a dramatic, sculptured looking rear end with a massive glass area.
Spoilt for choice
“The XC-90 somehow persuaded female, middle class haters of 4x4s that because it was a Volvo and a bit car-like, it wasn’t really a Chelsea Tractor”
There is a dizzying array of choices with the 8 engines coupled with S, SE SE Sport and SE Lux versions. All models have the acronymphomaniac’s Full Monty of impressive sounding safety stuff including DSTC, ABS with EBD, EBA, SIPS and WHIPS. (And I didn’t make up the last one - Whiplash Protection System). Take my word for it, please, that these are all useful, crucial even.
Waste of space
Audio systems are also to the fore, including a 650 watt Dynaudio Premium Sound System. I have to admit to complete ignorance as to whether that is desirable or not.
The interior was top class, with a simple, functional layout and classy materials. Count me in the “nay” column for the so-called “floating centre stack”, the central console which has space behind it - a pointless bit of design in my view which wastes space and will inevitably trap, out of sight, that piece of rotting sandwich.
There’s much room in the back, which is designed to make two people comfortable, rather than cram in 3. The boot is small, but the rear seats fold down to make some useful space.
South of £20,000
Neil Winton November 15, 2006