Volvo C30 first drive

* Face-lifted Volvo C30 driven * Price from £14,995-£20,945 * On sale now...

Volvo C30 first drive

What is it?

This is the face-lifted version of Volvo's rival to the Audi A3, BMW 1 Series and Volkswagen Scirocco.

It gets a striking new look that takes inspiration from last year's S60 concept car. What's more, there's a new Sports chassis that's standard on R-Design models and a 400 option across the rest of the range.

What's it like to drive?

The Sports chassis includes lowered and stiffened suspension, which improves the Volvo C30's already impressive composure on twisty roads. Unfortunately, the steering lets the side down a bit: it's more responsive than the standard car's, but you still don't get much feedback.

All C30s have a pretty firm ride, but the suspension changes don't seem to have made things significantly better or worse. The UK's patchy roads will provide a sterner test than the Austrian ones we tested the car on, though.

What's it like inside?

The interior is unchanged aside from some bright new colour options for the dashboard and seats.

Visibility is good, and Volvo's trademark 'floating' centre console looks suitably stylish. However, the narrow strip of buttons on it is fiddly and the onscreen graphics look dated.

There's plenty of space upfront, but rear knee room is quite tight and the boot is small and shallow.

How much will it cost?

The recent rise in VAT has pushed prices up by a few hundred pounds, but the C30 still looks good value undercutting mainstream models such as the Ford Focus, as well as most premium rivals.

Volvo has also made the more efficient stop-start DRIVe version cheaper to run. Average fuel economy rises from 72.4mpg to 74.3mpg, while CO2 emissions fall to 99g/km, making it exempt from annual road tax.

On the downside, the engine stop-start system brings a second battery which helps to keep the car's systems ticking over when the engine is switched off that is located low at the front of the car. This means you can't specify stop-start on R-Design models, because the bodykit gets in the way.

Click here for the Volvo C70
Click here for the Volvo XC60

What else has Volvo been up to?

Volvo has also face-lifted the C70 coupe-convertible, giving it a similar look to the revised C30. However, there are no mechanical changes, so the C70's ride and handling still fall well short of the class leaders.

The brilliant XC60 crossover is also available in a new R-Design trim, which beefs up the exterior styling and makes the car look closer to the ground, even though its ground clearance hasn't changed from the standard car. Like the C30 R-Design, it has stiffer suspension and quicker steering for improved agility, although the ride can get a little choppy at times.

What Car? says

Volvo C30

Volvo C70

Volvo XC60 R-Design