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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For Unusual design; good build quality; efficient diesels

Against Limited practicality; hard to find on used market

Verdict Volvo's C30 is neither a true coupe nor a small family hatchback

Go for… 1.6D SE

Avoid… 2.5 R-Design Sport

Volvo C30 Hatchback
  • 1. The C is supposed to stand for coupe, but from most angle angles it looks distinctly like a hatchback
  • 2. Despite of nine engines being on offer, only a few are worth serious consideration on the used market
  • 3. A comprehensive face-lift at the end of 2009 brought the C30 in line with newer members of the Volvo family
  • 4. Older cars are also susceptible to a stability control system failure, which can be expensive to fix
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Volvo C30 Hatchback full review with expert trade views

The C is supposed to stand for coupe, but from most angle angles it looks distinctly like a hatchback, and unfortunately, it hasn’t proved a big hit with buyers.

Volvos have a reputation for practicality, but this is more of a lifestyle hatchback. It’s available as only a three-door, so doesn’t appeal to those with children, and it doesn’t have the prestige of some three-door rivals, such as the Mini.

It’s based on the same platform as the S40 small family car, so it's good to drive with decent body control, but the ride is a little firm. Despite being described as a coupe it does has four full-size seats, but legroom is limited in the back, and the boot isn’t that big, either.

In reality, it’s a halfway house; offering neither the flexibility of most small-family hatchbacks, nor the pleasure of an all-out coupe.

Trade view

Owners are generally complimentary about the C30’s reliability, but there are some niggling faults to report.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

Despite of nine engines being on offer, only a few are worth serious consideration on the used market.

The 99bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine is acceptable, but can never be classed as fast, while the 123bhp 1.8-litre and a 143bhp 2.0-litre are swifter, but not exactly sporty. The turbocharged 2.5-litre engine is fun, but pointless in a car of this size.

The majority of used C30s are diesels, and the 108bhp 1.6 is refined and punchy. A frugal DRIVe version was introduced 2008, and this was improved with the addition of an engine stop-start system. There’s also a 134bhp 2.0-litre diesel and a 178bhp 2.4-litre.

All models are generously equipped, and the entry-level S trim gets climate control, alloy wheels and electric windows, while the SE adds cruise control, better-quality upholstery and steering wheel-mounted stereo controls. SE Lux models have leather upholstery and heated front seats, while the R-Design versions get sporty trim options.

A comprehensive face-lift at the end of 2009 brought the C30 in line with newer members of the Volvo family.

Trade view

Stylish, but ultimately flawed – it’s neither a proper coupe nor a useful three-door hatchback.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

The diesel C30s are the most popular models, due to their frugal nature. The 1.6-litre diesel isn’t shabby, managing 57.6mpg and emitting 129g/km of CO2, but the DRIVe versions beat that with average economy up to 74.3mpg and emissions as low as 99g/km. The 2.0-litre diesel comes in at 48.7mpg and 153g/km and the 2.4-litre at 45.6mpg and 164g/km.

It’s not a pretty picture with the petrol models. The 1.6-litre baby of the family can muster an average of only 39.2mpg and emissions of 167g/km, the 1.8-litre does 38.7mpg and emits 174g/km, the 2.0-litre manages 37.2mpg and 177g/km, while the 2.5-litre averages 31.4mpg and 211g/km of CO2.

Not only is servicing a C30 more expensive than similar cars from prestige brands, such Audi and BMW, but it’s considerably more than small family car rivals such as the Honda Civic and VW Golf.

Although the smaller petrol models sit in insurance group 15, the popular diesels start at group 24.

Trade view

Owners are generally complimentary about the C30’s reliability, but there are some niggling faults to report.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

Owners are generally complimentary about the C30’s reliability, but there are some niggling faults to report.

Some cabin trim rattles have cropped up, along with faulty ventilation systems. Older cars are also susceptible to a stability control system failure, which can be expensive to fix.

The C30 has also been the subject of several recalls, along with other models in the Volvo range. These concern key items such as the brakes, steering and engine cooling. Owners should be automatically notified of a recall, but it’s worth checking with a dealer to make sure that all relevant work has been carried out.

Trade view

Stylish, but ultimately flawed – it’s neither a proper coupe nor a useful three-door hatchback.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor
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