Volvo’s first attempt at a modern-day executive hatchback is a success
It might not be a full-blooded hot hatch, but in its most muscular form the C30 is still an impressive performance machine. It struggles for low-speed traction, yet the 217bhp variant won’t be left trailing by many performance models on the road. It also manages to retain a comfortable and refined cruising ability.
While diesel power is the most sensible option for most C30 buyers, the Volvo’s sporty credentials are only really put to the test in high-performance T5 form.
Although it does without garish side skirts or spoilers, this model has the grown-up looks to tempt buyers away from Volkswagen’s Golf GTI. But it’s out on the road where it must prove its worth.
Just like the Focus ST, the C30 T5 uses Ford’s turbocharged 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine to develop 217bhp and an impressive 320Nm of torque from only 1,500rpm. Feed-ing power to the front wheels, the T5 sprints from 0-62mph in only 7.1 seconds and hits a 140mph top speed. Once on the move, the turbo wakes up and delivers blister-ing pace right up to the 6,800rpm red line. The sensation of limitless acceleration is outstanding – you feel as if you are only keeping pace with the car is by retaining a tight grip on the bulky steering wheel!
The only trouble is getting traction. With all that torque on offer, the front wheels are prone to spinning, even in second gear if you’re too heavy-footed. As a result, the ESP stability control has to work overtime – although at speed the T5’s grip is simply immense.
With the engineering emphasis on sporty handling, the range-topping model has precise steering and quick responses. Add a slick-shifting six-speed manual gearbox to the mix, and the T5 is highly competent. Unfortunately, it lacks the handling ability of its Focus ST sibling. The Volvo is safe and perfectly balanced, but it’s still not a truly focused thrill-seeker. In the UK, the T5 engine will be available in SE, SE Lux and SE Sport trims, starting at £21,495. Let’s hope Volvo dev-elops a fully fledged C30-R model to exploit its new hatchback to the full.