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Stylish two-door hatchbacks are de rigueur nowadays, with names like Beetle, Fiat and Mini. As it turns out, you can have fun and economical transportation wrapped in a cool, distinctive package. Yet one more car that deserves to be noticed among these hip choices is the 2013 Volvo C30. Though it's been around for a couple years, this clever two-door hatch still looks and feels as fresh and modern as the day it was introduced. Maybe it's because you don't see many out on the road, but that just means people have been missing out on a good thing.
The C30 is unmistakable on the road thanks to the nifty all-glass hatch that harkens back to past Volvo hatchbacks. The two-passenger backseat is another interesting touch, featuring a pair of individual bucket seats that are nearly as sumptuous and supportive as those up front. Compared to those aforementioned stylish two-door hatchbacks, the Volvo C30 is far more welcoming to its passengers.
Unfortunately, pricing happens to be the C30's biggest drawback. There's no base model, so the 2013 Volvo C30 is in the same price range as sporty models like the Fiat 500 Abarth, Mini Cooper S and VW Beetle Turbo, as well as the Ford Focus ST. And against this bunch, the C30 is a bit outmatched from a performance standpoint. But in most other respects, this stylish two-door hatchback definitely deserves to be noticed.
The C30 received a larger grille for 2011 that resembles the one on Volvo's XC60 crossover and imparts a contemporary look. One of the more interesting design elements of the two-door C30 is its glass hatch. Volvo says it lends an open feel to the interior; bystanders can see the center dashboard controls from behind. Exterior features include:
- Standard headlight washers and rain-sensing wipers
- Available adaptive xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights
- 17-inch wheels on T5
- 18-inch wheels on T5 R-Design
Volvo says four adults can fit inside the compact C30. Rear bucket seats are positioned slightly inward of the front seats, allowing more forward visibility. In front, the dashboard has an ultra-thin center panel that incorporates climate and audio controls. Interior features include:
- Cloth seats standard, leather seats optional
- Standard dual-zone climate control
- Standard CD stereo with an auxiliary jack
- Standard trip computer
- Upgraded stereo optional
- Optional navigation system with real-time traffic data
- Backseat folds forward
Under the Hood
The front-drive C30 is powered by a turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-five-cylinder engine. Mechanical features include:
- 227 horsepower and 236 pounds-feet of torque
- Six-speed manual standard
- Five-speed automatic optional
Three-door hatchbacks with any sort of performance bent are typically geared toward serious younger enthusiasts and tuner types, but the C30 tends to be something different. While the look is racy, the combination of the C30's stylish interior, well-isolated road feel, and handling that opts out of the ragged edge, the C30 is surprisingly not the kind of car that wants to be flung through corners. Instead, it's a fast touring coupe, or a comfortable commuter--and one with a responsive side that won't let you down if you approach it from that direction. The turbocharged 227-horsepower five-cylinder engine provides a steady flow of linear power, with its peak torque of 236 pound-feet achieved at a remarkably low 1,800 rpm. The automatic transmission is a surprisingly willing companion, as it keeps the engine on its boost and works well with your right foot; a somewhat notchy six-speed manual transmission is your other option, and that's fine, too.
There aren't a lot of other positives to share about the interior, once you get beyond the style points. While front-seat space is generally good, headroom is surprisingly tight with the sunroof; and the two carved-out bucket seats in back aren't really sized for full-scale human adults. Cargo space is disappointingly limited, with a high cargo floor and a narrow opening through the glass hatch--pretty much assuring that you'll block off some of your rearward visibility just in a typical grocery run. Ride comfort is no more than adequate, either; the suspension is on the firm side (although soft when pressed); and the C30's interior can get boomy over coarse highway surfaces.
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