World Dream Cars Update

First Drive: 2008 Volvo C30

>> Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Ten years ago these associations would have been Volvo: boxy, Volvo: staid and Volvo: maturity. Of course there has always been the foundation of safety on which the company has built its reputation, and that hasn't changed and shouldn't change. But lately Volvo has been trying hard to be hip, cool and sporty, and those swingin' Swedes seem to be pulling it off.

Consumer research told Volvo designers and engineers that in order to reach the target consumer group of 28-38 year olds, they needed to produce a car that highlighted these five items: 1) exterior design; 2) performance; 3) sporty interior; 4) great sound system; and 5) high-tech features. The result of their work is the all-new C30.

The C30 is the smallest car offered by Volvo, available only as a sporty 2-door hatchback. This is both a move in a new direction and a return to the company's roots—the C30 carries a number of styling cues from the 2-door hatchback Sportwagon that Volvo sold in the 1970s.

The exterior styling of the new C30 has obvious ties to the rest of the Volvo lineup, but designers chose to emphasize lines that give the new hatchback bolder front-end styling. Lines flow from the headlights to the taillights, and the roof line peaks over the driver, sloping down in the rear to meet the taillights. Large 17-inch alloy wheels, emphasized fender flares and the raised hood add to a powerful image. All C30s are equipped with front airbags, side airbags, side-curtain airbags, as well as SIPS and WHIPS (Side Impact Protection System and Whiplash Protection Seating System).

The ultimate decision was to make only one engine available, but after driving the car we'd have to say those Volvo engineers chose the right one. Every C30 in America is powered by Volvo's 2.5-liter turbocharged 5-cylinder engine. Power output is 227 horses, but more noticeable is 236 lb-ft of torque available at a low 1800 rpm.

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