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Review: 2013 Volvo C30 T5 R Design

Sunday July 21st, 2013 at 8:77 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: Hottest Hatch You Can Buy
Gripes: Hard to Access Rear Seat, Flimsy Trunk Cover

In a performance world adrift in a sea of ever wider tires, Volvo’s choice of petite 205/50R17 Michelin MXM4 rubber for its top performance hatchback, the R Design C30, seems inexplicable. Choosing such a modest width of 205mm front and rear would appear to hobble this Volvo before it ever gets out of the starting gate. Well, guess what? The handling and responsiveness of the R Design C30 puts most other front engine, front wheel drive hot hatchbacks to shame. Without question, this limited edition (250) Polestar-tweaked Volvo proves that you do not need a huge tire footprint to leave an indelible imprint in your memory bank. Great handling is all about balance, and this diminutive 4 seater has that asset in spades.

Polestar is the factory affiliated tuning department at Volvo, and for this very special model, they’ve dialed in the suspension of the already competent C30 by stiffening the chassis and firming up the suspension. The Polestar Limited Edition uses 17 inch STYX matte black alloys, and sports R Design front and rear roof spoilers. Handsome exterior cosmetic touches include matte aluminum grill surround and polished 3.5 inch dual exhaust tips. Inside, two-tone leather seating surfaces distinguish this special model, with light gray leather centers contrasting against black side bolsters. “R Design” monikers are embossed into the front headrests, sparkling blue watch dial instrument faces make the gauge cluster pop, and spiffy alloy sport pedals grab your rubber sole. The unique leather and alloy rimmed steering wheel sports an “R Design” badge on its lower rim, and a Polestar Limited Edition numbered plaque graces the dash (ours was 249/250).

On top of all these delectable cosmetic improvements, the best part of the Polestar package lies unseen, beneath the hood. Unlike so many hot hatchbacks in this price range, the C30 boasts an hydraulic hood strut instead of a chintzy manual prop rod. When you lift that sleek hood, you’re gazing at a substantially reworked inline 5 cylinder turbo engine, Although sharing the base C30’s 2.5 liter displacement, this one boosts horsepower from 227 to 236, and torque from 236 lb.-ft. to 273 lb.-ft. With its undersquare bore/stroke dimension of 83mm x 93mm, the Polestar-tweaked B5254T7 engine is a real torque monster, producing maximum output from throttle tip-in of 1,500rpm all the way to 5,000rpm. Although Volvo supplies 6 perfectly spaced ratios in its delightful manual gearbox, you hardly need more than one of them to keep this little tiger on full boil.

Compared to the hideous, overly complicated interior treatments common to most of today’s cars, the design ethos of the Volvo seems to be from another planet. There’s a wonderfully simplified center stack here, for example, which stresses utility, with its obvious knob placement for HVAC and radio controls. The symmetrical layout is clear, concise, and diametrically opposed to the ridiculous cell-phone dashboard emulations that have become so popular today. Volvo designers place a premium on safety, which begins with the sensible design of the cockpit. This is one company that will never be faulted for inciting distracted driving. But should you ever lose control of the C30, the safeguards Volvo has included will stand you in good stead. Standard are inflatable curtain side impact bags, front AND rear dual stage bags, and whiplash protection for both front seats.

Even with the addition of a $5,000 Platinum package that provides Navigation, Premium sound, SIRIUS radio, Power Moonroof and Dual Xenon headlights, the C30 R Design totals just $35,545. In a world full of Sofa City products, the C30 R is like taking a rejuvenating trip through the spa at IKEA.

2013 Volvo C30 T5 R Design

  • Engine: 2.5 liter inline 5, Turbocharged with Continuous Variable Valve Timing and Intake
  • Horsepower: 236 hp
  • Torque: 273 lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 21 MPG City/29 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $35,545
  • Star Rating: 9.5 out of 10 Stars

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Review: 2013 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R

Tuesday April 30th, 2013 at 11:44 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: Sleeper Backroad Burner, Quality Fit and Finish
Gripes: No Paddles, Tight Back Seat

Ever since Ford sold Volvo off to the Chinese several years ago, the Swedish automaker has been having a tough go in the marketplace.  Thankfully, not as bad as Swedish compatriot Saab, which recently declared bankruptcy and closed its doors, but still concerning enough to make marque loyalists fret.  But if the latest S60 R is indicative of Volvo’s future, the company outlook is very bright indeed.  In fact, just as bright as the piercing shade of Rebel Blue that graced our scintillating test car.  If you’re in the market for a 4 place sports sedan, you’ll definitely want to consider the S60 R as a top contender, because it beats the competition from Audi and BMW in almost every department while costing considerably less.

For example, the base price of this twin turbocharged road burner is just $43,900.  Even with the addition of a $2,300 Platinum Package (Navigation, Back-Up Camera) and $700 Cold Weather Package (Heated Front Seats and Washer Nozzles), this Volvo’s out-the door price totaled $48,195.  A comparable BMW 3 Series sedan starts about the same price as the Volvo ($43,150) but by the time you’re finished toting up the laundry list of extras, the BMW costs almost ten grand more than the S60 R.  And in a straight shoot out based on performance, I’d take the Volvo every time.  The “R” branding starts under the hood, where the 3.0 liter six is mounted sideways rather than lengthwise to minimize front overhang.  This long stroke (93.2mm) small bore (82mm) motor is designed to make most of its torque low in the rpm range.  Between 2,100rpm and 4,200rpm, the big six produces 354 lb.-ft. of torque.  This wide rpm spread allows you to access instant power, no matter which gear the Geartronic 6-speed has selected.  Volvo has also upped horsepower output this year from 300 to 325hp at 5,600rpm.

Although the Geartronic system lacks paddle shifts, the console-mounted shift lever features a unique illuminated knob which highlights the range you’ve chosen.  Sport-Mode, activated by moving the lever backwards and left, allows you to select your preferred gear manually.  In practice, however, this manipulation is hardly ever necessary, due to the abundant torque of the R-specification motor.  The S60 is fitted with a unibody steel passenger safety cage, dual stage front seat airbags with anti-whiplash headrests, and side impact head protection for all 4 seats.  All that safety gear is as reassuring as the S60’s exceptional handling.  Volvo has not stinted in supplying the “R” with premium “Sleipner” alloy wheels that look like Cuisineart blades.  Continental provides top notch ContiSportContact 235/40R18) rubber at each corner, and Volvo stiffens the suspension of the “R” to take maximum advantage of the Conti’s mountain goat traction.  This sedan will corner with the best contenders from Germany without giving them an inch advantage.

Saving the best for last, the cockpit of the S60 R is a splendid exercise in Swedish modern design.  Unlike most dashboards, which look like they were cobbled together by 20 different parents, the S60 R control layout looks like one mastermind did the trick.  The fact that almost every surface is matte black makes the Op Art aluminum center stack throb with visual excitement.  It contains just 4 large, simplified knobs which control radio volume, radio tune, and thermostats for driver and passenger.  Like the silver center stack, the boldly delineated “Blue Watch Dial Instrument Cluster” is also startlingly impressive.  Bold, concentric rings of silver and ice blue convert the 8,000rpm tachometer and 160mph speedometer into Swatch-like chronometer faces that are as easy to read as they are refreshing to see.  Volvo designers also supply just enough “R” model designations (front grill, headrests, steering wheel spoke) to this sedan, without resorting to undue braggadocio.  The all-wheel-drive S60 R is an affordable sports sedan for the owner whose ego needs no reinforcement from badging.

2013 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R

  • Engine: 3.0 liter inline 6, DOHC, Continuous Variable Valve Timing, Twin-Scroll Turbo
  • Horsepower: 325hp @ 5,600rpm
  • Torque: 354 lb.-ft. @ 2,100rpm-4,200rpm
  • Fuel Consumption: 18 MPG City/25 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $48,195
  • Star Rating: 9.5 out of 10 Stars

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2012 Volvo C70 Inscription Convertible Review

Monday July 23rd, 2012 at 3:77 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

For: Starkly Handsome, Subtle, Quick
Against: Trunk Closure Difficulties, Fingertip Steering Effort

This C70 has more facets to its personality than a Hearts On Fire diamond. The Inscription package blesses it with an uprated 250hp motor that yearns to power a sportscar. The full leather interior confers Bentleyesque riches on its inhabitants. And the upgrade is endearingly subtle. Only the black leather headrests are inscribed in black thread with the phrase “Inscription.” Nowhere else does the phrase appear. Not even the tail of the C70 carries any such “Inscription” notation.

The 2.5 liter, 5 cylinder turbo engine jumps from the standard C70 output of 227hp and 236 lb.-ft. of torque to 250hp and 273 lb.-ft. of torque. That’s a hefty 10% gain in both departments. Instead of the C70’s standard 17 inch rims, Inscription brings you 18 inch “MDIR” gloss black and stainless-spoked appliances shod with ContiProContact 235/40R18 tires. “Active” dual Xenon headlights, which pivot in the direction of your turn, brilliantly illuminate the night. Volvo adds aluminum pedals, plus aluminum inserts to the sport steering wheel rim. A gloss black grill matches the finish of the alloy wheels. Chrome trimmed daytime running light pods add the only note of bling to the otherwise somber exterior. The C70 Inscription is understated to a fault, but inarguably handsome in the Swedish minimalist way.

 

The driving experience is all over the map. The lively special tuning of the motor propels the C70 with enough authority to keep any BMW 3 Series in sight on a twisty road. But you’ll have to work harder than the Bimmer driver because the Conti tires break loose early in a turn and insist on squealing through apexes. The C70 steering is too light to be informational. Steering feedback is so weightless, that you might think you’re driving a ’58 Buick. While the chassis itself is so stiff it can traverse railroad tracks at 60mph without a squeak or deflection, springing and shocks are so soft that the ingot-like body squirms on bump compression.

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2012 Volvo C30 T5 2-Door Hatchback Review

Friday May 4th, 2012 at 9:55 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

For: : Lithe Lines, IKEA Interior, Wheel-spinning Power
Against: Touchy Clutch Tip-in, Nil Rear Seat Headroom

Volvo’s been down this road before. Forty years ago, they took their 2 seat sports car, the P1800, added 2+2 seating, station wagon storage accessible through a hatchback, and called the result the P1800ES. They resurrected that once successful formula by bringing the C30 to market several years ago. In 2012 form, the C30 has matured into a very handsome, useful and affordable hatchback. Volvo’s frequent forays into worldwide sedan racing have yielded dividends in refashioning the C30’s aerodynamic contours. These racing program refinements, called “R-Design” tricks, contribute new front and rear spoilers as well the honeycomb front grill. With the help of this trim package, the C30 presents one of the loveliest silhouettes on the road. Its appearance is as memorable as that of the P1800ES was in its day.

Let’s get acquainted with the C30 by climbing aboard for a test hop. You’ll need to drop down and in because the C30 is only 57 inches tall. Immediately impressive is the R-Design two-tone look of the interior, with front and rear seat cushions split into dazzling black and cream segments. Flop into the deep front buckets, and they feel even more supportive than they look. But if you’re climbing into the back seat, the drill is more complicated, First, use the handy seat-top button to slide the front seat forward. Then tilt the front seatback forward, push the safety harness aside, duck your head way down, and twist yourself into one of the two rear seats. Once ensconced back there, you’ll love the lounge chair seating position, and appreciate the big window next to your head, but rue the lack of headroom due to the C30’s sloped roofline.

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2012 Volvo S60 T6R Review

Tuesday February 14th, 2012 at 11:22 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Pros: Snarling performance, Extreme safety shell, Indolent comfort
Cons: Sedate looks

Volvo skipped the 2010 model year in order to bring the S60 back in 2011 as a completely revamped product. For 2012, the company is enhancing the S60’s sporting proclivity by offering an “R” version of the standard T6 (turbocharged 6 cylinder) motor to increase horsepower from 300 to 325 and torque from 325 to 354 lb.-ft. In addition to this Polestar Performance Tuning, the R package also includes such R Design niceties as 18 inch alloy wheels, sport chassis, front spoiler and intake, rear spoiler and diffuser with polished exhaust tips, sport seats with embossed logo, ribbed aluminum pedals, blue watch design instrument faces, and perforated leather sport steering wheel and shift knob. In other words, it’s pretty hard to ignore Volvo’s sporting intention in building this R variant of the S60: it’s the quickest sedan Volvo has ever built.

The R Design is a treat to drive. Even though the 235/40R18 Continental ContiSportContact 3 tires are rated for all-season use, they function remarkably well in dry conditions. As the S60 reaches the limits of adhesion, the Contis make a reassuring chirp at each apex to let you know their full adhesion has been reached. The all-wheel-drive sport chassis of the S60 is similarly telegraphic, issuing clear messages about road condition, tire grip and car position through both the chunky steering wheel, and the nicely retained seat of your pants. This Volvo is a carefully calibrated precision instrument for quick sports motoring. The steering feedback can be altered to suit your taste, with three settings available (low, medium or high feedback). The S60 R also offers an Active Chassis management plan which allows you to tailor ride and handling to your taste, with comfort, sport and advanced settings instantly available through dash button manipulation.

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2013 Volvo S60 R-Design

Tuesday November 1st, 2011 at 2:1111 PM
Posted by: AKramer


By Alex Kramer

Pros:

  • Gutsy turbocharged V6
  • Well-balanced ride
  • High quality interior
  • Good fuel efficiency

Cons:

  • Outdated 6-speed automatic transmission
  • Handling is a bit soft for a high performance sports sedan

Ask any car enthusiast what they think of Volvo, and most will probably comment on the unique boxy exterior design, or the brand’s extensive focus on safety, or the practicality of a wagon with more trunk space than most SUVs. Discussions of performance or driving excitement probably won’t enter the picture.

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2011 Volvo XC60 R-Design Review – It’s got the brawn, but who’s got the brains?

Tuesday August 2nd, 2011 at 4:88 PM
Posted by: bclark

2011 Volvo XC60
By Bill Clark

Pros:

  • Turbo V6 feels like a V8
  • Exterior and interior styling
  • Very comfortable
  • Versatile cargo capabilities

Cons:

  • Mind-baffling electronics
  • Useless proximity key
  • R-design rear bumper not compatible with receiver hitch

Having tested a number of small crossovers, I can say with certainty that the Volvo XC60 is almost the perfect family crossover and certainly one that provides enough ‘fun factor’ to entertain car enthusiasts. I never expected to say that about a Volvo crossover. If it wasn’t for the frustrating vehicle electronics menu systems, I’d call it perfect.

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Discover Volvo's Overseas Program and Win a Dream Vacation

Thursday April 7th, 2011 at 10:44 AM
Posted by: Derek

Volvo_contest_2011

Volvo. Sweden. You.

Discover Volvo’s Overseas Program and Enter to Win a Dream Vacation at http://www.carplusvacation.com/

ROCKLEIGH, N.J. (April 7, 2011) – Volvo Cars of North America’s (VCNA) Overseas Delivery Program has become the number one European overseas delivery service by offering car buyers an opportunity to save money and an unforgettable way to pick up their new vehicle – straight from the factory in Sweden. Now, for the third year, VCNA, along with VisitSweden, Tourism in Skåne and the West Swedish Tourist Board are bringing back their http://www.carplusvacation.com/ sweepstakes and offering a chance for two lucky people to win a dream vacation in West Sweden and Skåne.

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2011 Volvo S60 T6 AWD First Impressions Review

Wednesday February 2nd, 2011 at 11:22 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By contributing editor David Colman

Hits

  • Succinct styling
  • Swedish modern dash and center stack
  • Mega grip from AWD

Misses

  • Intrusive Technology Package
  • No manual transmission available
  • Lack of paddles on Geartronic automatic

We’ve had cars nagging us for so many years now that we’ve become virtually immune to their strident demands. But seat belt warning buzzers and door-open chimes seem so quaintly 20th century in the face of the brave new world Volvo has wrought with their all new 21st century S60. If you order a base model S60 T6, you’ll pay $37,700 for a comfortable, stylish and competent GT car with lots of solid virtues, like a 300hp turbocharged engine, all-wheel-drive, and plenty of room for 4, or 5 in a pinch. The trunk is large, the rear seats fold flat to convert the S60 into a mini-wagon, and the level of fit and finish in the cabin is Swedish fastidious.

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2011 Volvo S60 Review – Naughty by Nature

Friday January 28th, 2011 at 9:11 AM
Posted by: gmchan_66

By Gary Chan

Pros

  • Impressive engine and suspension
  • Quiet cockpit
  • Driver comfort and controls
  • Active Cruise Control

Cons:

  • Lack of keyless entry at this price point
  • Navigation input/lag and interface
  • Rear visibility with tall/thick C-pillar that reach the taillamps
  • Bluetooth setup

My family owned a sky blue 1974 Volvo 144 sedan that we purchased new and had for a number of years. My childhood memories of that large car include its heavy feel, slow acceleration and sleeping steering. Absolutely nothing that would stir the senses. Fast forward 37-years, and times have sure changed for the better. Light, nimble, and fast (complete opposites of the 144) are the adjectives I’d use to describe the new redesigned S60 during my long weekend with the car.

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