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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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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2010 Volvo C30 R-Design Review – A Saint for the 21st Century

Tuesday September 7th, 2010 at 12:99 PM
Posted by: the911guy

By Dan Tsuchiya


  • Overall attractive styling that brings back the P1800 for the 21st century
  • Zippy engine with power that comes on very early utilizing great torque
  • Built for cold weather
  • Tight cornering prowess always has you looking for the next turn


  • Front seats a bit narrow on the bottom half and no headrest adjustment
  • Price with options getting close to a 1-series BMW
  • Not built for warm climates
  • With good handling comes a stiff suspension

Few shows were as popular in Britain in the 1960s as “The Saint”. The show starred Roger Moore as Simon Templar, a spy with a penchant for gorgeous cars. The classic image of Roger Moore driving his Volvo 1800 sports car in the 1960′s TV show, “The Saint”, endures even today.

On the other side of the Atlantic, hatchbacks have never been largely accepted in the United States except when they were disguised as sports cars like the XKE, 240Z, RX-7, and Pinto (sorry scratch that last one). The Volvo C30, which is a peppy little four seat hot-hatch, comes in deep into competitive territory with the Mazdaspeed3, WRX, GTI, and even the tidy little MINI Cooper S. We would like to think that the Volvo C30 can stand up to its peers, but you be the judge.

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Volvo Launches Boston Red Sox Special Edition C30 (updated 7/29/2008)

Tuesday July 29th, 2008 at 8:77 AM
Posted by: Derek

Linda Brennan of Montpelier, Vt. Wins Ultimate Fan Prize: Boston Red Sox Special Edition Volvo C30

Red Sox Foundation and Volvo team up in charity raffle, raising $1.4 million

IRVINE, Calif. (July 29, 2008) – Linda Brennan, Boston Red Sox Foundation and Volvo Cars of North America raffle winner, now owns the ultimate 2007 World Series Championship collectible: The Boston Red Sox Special Edition Volvo C30.

Volvo and the Red Sox Foundation hosted the raffle to raise money for children and families in need across New England. Brennan took home the C30 during Saturday’s Red Sox versus Yankees game at Fenway Park.


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2008 Volvo C30 Video Review

Friday March 7th, 2008 at 3:33 PM
Posted by: Derek

There is a new hot-hatch on the market that blends a little old skool styling with a modern look, and Volvo’s renowned safety features. The 2008 Volvo C30 is a new 2-door hatchback and is Volvo’s smallest car for the U.S. market at 8.5 inches shorter than the S40 sedan. The C30 has a 6 speed manual transmission, 2.5L I5, 20 valve, 227-horsepower engine, seats four and offers a Custom Build ordering process with 17 different exterior color choices and 12 interior combinations.

YouTube Preview Image

Volvo C30 Photo Gallery

Volvo C30 Specs

VolvoOfficial website for Volvo automobiles in the U.S. –

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2008 Volvo C30 Review – A different kind of "hot hatch"

Tuesday February 12th, 2008 at 2:22 AM
Posted by: Kurt Gensheimer

2008 Volvo C30
By Kurt Gensheimer


  • Engine has more grunt than a railroad chain gang
  • Oozes with style (not applicable to our test model)
  • Solid, quiet, reassuring ride
  • Millions of build options – yes, millions


  • $24K car and no cruise control?
  • Default super typhoon-force defog setting
  • Narrow roofline drips rainwater into cabin when entering
  • A bit portly for its size

Ruling: Proof that style and a nice backside can also earn “hot hatch” status.
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