Volvo C30 DRIVe

Super-low running costs give baby Swede extra desirability

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

The Volvo C30 has never been an easy car to pigeonhole, falling somewhere between a rakish coupé and sensible hatchback. The DRIVe does nothing to change that situation, but it does give the Swedish machine an extra dose of desirability. Its low running costs are particularly welcome, making the C30 a fine financial choice for both company car users and private motorists. Better still, for buyers looking for the same supermini-rivalling emissions and fuel economy in a more practical package, then there’s always the option of the S40 and V50 DRIVe models.

Going green has never been more fashionable – just take a look at the new Volvo C30 DRIVe for proof.

The stylish Swedish model has been subjected to a number of eco-friendly tweaks that result in Honda Insight-beating CO2 emissions of 104g/km and incredible fuel returns of 72.4mpg. At the heart of the makeover is a new start/stop system that’s mated to the model’s existing 107bhp 1.6-litre diesel motor.

But that’s not all. Engineers have made changes to the aerodynamics, including the addition of a flat undertray to smooth airflow beneath the car. There’s also a neat rear spoiler, reprofiled back bumper, special alloy wheels and lowered suspension. However, so subtle are these changes that it’s hard to distinguish the DRIVe from other models in the C30 line-up.

Climb aboard and you’ll find even fewer clues to the car’s green status. The attractively styled dashboard is standard, apart from a gearshift indicator and a DRIVe button on the centre console that operates the start/stop technology.

The system works extremely well. Simply come to a halt, engage neutral and the engine stops. When you’re ready to move away, you press the clutch pedal and the unit fires immediately. Longer ratios in the five-speed gearbox mean the Volvo feels sluggish at low speeds, but once the revs rise above 1,750rpm the Swede serves up strong urge.

Otherwise, the DRIVe behaves like any other C30. The steering is light and precise, refinement is strong and the ride surprisingly comfortable, despite the lower ride height.

Prices for the DRIVe start at £15,995 for the entry-level S, rising to £18,995 for the Lux SE. Bizarrely, you’ll have to spend another £250 if you want the start/stop kit – without it fitted, CO2 emissions increase from 104g/km to 119g/km.

Despite this slight niggle, the DRIVe is the best model in the C30 line-up, boasting a desirable blend of eye-catching style and low running costs.

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