Volvo C30 2.0D SE

Can facelift give Swede new lease of life?

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

Volvo’s update of the C30 isn’t entirely successful. The compact hatchback has always been a model that stands out from the crowd, but the updated nose doesn’t really do it any favours. On the plus side, it’s well built and refined, while the 2.0-litre diesel is a responsive and efficient performer. The sports suspension upgrade is a step in the right direction, but if you’re after an entertaining drive, there are plenty of alternatives that deliver a more thrilling experience.

While bosses at Volvo face up to a future outside of the Ford family, designers at the Swedish company have been busy giving a fresh face to its C30 hatchback.

The smoother nose brings the three-door into line with the XC60 SUV and forthcoming S60 saloon. However, the update gives the C30 a long front overhang, which spoils the proportions somewhat.

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Volvo C30


The rest of the car has only minor visual changes, as the firm has concentrated on increasing the amount of personalisation available.

There are vibrant new colours on offer, while contrasting trim for the sills and wheelarches can be specified, too. Our car came in Lime Grass green with Java accents, while the white 17-inch alloy wheels are certainly a novel touch.

Inside, the trademark ‘floating’ centre console, logical dashboard layout and remote control-operated sat-nav system remain.

The cabin is well built and comfortable, and while the C30 is a strict four-seater – there are two individual chairs in the back, and no middle belt – there’s plenty of space for four inside. Boot space leaves a little to be desired, though. The all-glass tailgate opens to reveal a relatively small aperture, while the canvas load cover is still a fiddle to attach or remove.

On the road, the C30 has been improved, thanks to a new Sports Chassis set-up. This is standard on R-Design models or a £400 option on SE and SE Lux trims.

The upgrade lowers the suspension by 10mm, while stiffer springs and dampers, plus a faster steering rack, sharpen the car’s responses. While the C30 is better to drive than before, it’s still not quite a match for the class leaders.The 2.0-litre diesel we tried is expected to be the best seller of the range, and its mix of punchy performance and 49.6mpg combined economy will appeal to many buyers.

The C30 has some stiff competition in this class in the shape of Audi’s A3 and the BMW 1-Series. But with prices for the range starting from £14,995, the Swede has value for money on its side.

Rival: Audi A3 2.0TDI SE While the Volvo’s cabin comes close for quality, the A3 still sets the benchmark in the class. The Audi is more expensive and doesn’t look as distinctive as the C30, but it is available as a versatile five-door.

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