Looks - 9/10
After seeing pictures of the C30 in the past, I have always been unsure of it in terms of looks. This said however, on seeing it up close and personal, my mind was made up. The C30 is actually a very handsome car. The bold rear quarters stand out and the front end is sleek and stylish. The rear hatch is all glass and actually looks very effective. My test car was the R-Design model which meant twin exhaust tailpipes, a subtle yet sporting bodykit and silver mirrors. The 17" alloys fit well with the car's styling, and 18" optional wheels can be selected if you so wish.
On the interior, the stylish design continues. There are nice materials, and everything is logically laid out. The big, chunky steering wheel has the 'R-Design' logo on it, although this wouldn't have gone amiss on the passenger side of the dashboard as well. The seats were very comfortable and finished in high-quality leather. The centre console is very stylish in its 'standalone' fashion too. Overall the cabin was a nice place to be in both the front and rear; with ample space all round.
Handling/Performance - 10/10
This is where the C30 came into a league of its own. My test car was fitted with the 2.0-litre D3 model. This is a five-cylinder diesel engine producing 150PS and 350Nm of torque. 0-60mph takes 8.8 seconds, and top speed is 130mph. There is a 6-speed manual transmission, and a 6-speed auto is available as an option. The Volvo 5-cylinder engines have a reputation for being good, but I did not realise just how good this car would be. For starters, the noise it makes is unlike any other diesel I have ever come across. It doesn't sound like a diesel at all; rather like a big petrol engine. In fact, the five-cylinder Ford Focus RS has the same base noise.
As for handling, the C30 excels here too. The steering is perfectly weighted and has the ideal level of sharpness. This means that it can cope with manoeuvring in town, up to an A-road blast, with extreme competence. In particular I wish to stress just how good this car was on twisty A-roads. It ate up the miles and was comfortable even when the road surface got tough.
Economy - 9/10
As you would expect from a modern diesel engine, fuel economy is very good with the C30. Average consumption is 55.4mpg, and CO2 emissions are 134g/km. This puts the D3 model I tested in VED band E, and 12 months tax will cost you £120 and is reasonable for a car of this size. The best thing about the D3 was that even on an A-road blast, fuel consumption was still a touch under 50mpg, and this return is excellent.
Practicality - 8/10
The C30 is a very user-friendly car, and is great for all occasions. The only possible drawback is that it can only seat four people. This isn't much of a problem though, because it can seat four adults comfortably. There is a centre armrest and plenty of headroom in the rear, and you don't have to have miniature legs to fit in there either.
The C30 is easy to drive, easy to park, and easy to live with. There is sufficient boot space for shopping and this can be increased by dropping the back seats flat. I had no problems jumping into this car and getting used to it. The C30 can be used every day, and for whatever you could throw at it. A businessman commuting everyday, 4 people taking a trip to the countryside, and just everyday popping to the shops.
Obviously, if you have 3 children, then the C30 wouldn't be for you. Other than that, it's a great car, with a great range of engines. With a range of petrol and diesel engines, there's even a 230PS T5 model for those looking for serious speed. If you prefer efficiency, then the 1.6-litre Diesel DRIVe model comes in with free road tax and 74.3mpg combined.
Fun - 10/10
If there was one thing the C30 did in the time I had it, then that would be putting a smile on my face. For me that's a big part of a good car. Every time you hear the 5-cylinder roar, or blast down a country road, your face is lit up. I wanted to drive everywhere, finding any excuse to grab the keys. I urge anyone who has never driven one of these to go and arrange a test drive; I do not doubt that you will be impressed. Everything is user friendly and you can plug your iPod in for easy control too.
I genuinely enjoyed the time I spent with the C30. The car as a whole is fantastic, and I wouldn't think twice about owning one for myself. The D3 R-Design I tested would cost you £21,535 OTR. Be careful though, because the optional extras will cost you. For example, Satellite Navigation is an extra £1,535. A sunroof is £610, and Premium Sound Audio will be £1,025. My test vehicle tipped the scales at £27,430 which seems steep. Personally, I could do without some of the extras, but each to their own. Who knows, maybe in a couple of years I will be driving one of these! A huge thanks to Nickie over at Volvo for arranging the C30 for me to test.
Total Score - 46/50