Volvo C30 DRIVe

Volvo's green machine gets extra power and torque but keeps class-leading economy and emissions.

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

The C30 DRIVe is one of the most charismatic green machines around. What’s more, the subtle mechanical changes have made it even better to drive. It doesn’t come cheap, though – the range starts at £18,905. That’s a lot to pay for a car designed to save you money – especially one that isn’t very spacious and is starting to show its age inside. However, anyone willing to overlook its limitations will have few  complaints about its excellent economy figures or classy image.

The XC60 isn’t the only Volvo getting a power boost – the firm’s greenest model, the C30 DRIVe, has been updated, too. It saw off the Audi A3 in a test in Issue 1,110, so can the changes further enhance its appeal?

The coupé body, with its attractive rear spoiler, has been left alone, and it looks as good as ever. Also unchanged are the car’s impressive economy and emissions figures – at 74.3mpg and 99g/km respectively. That means C30 buyers don’t have to pay any road tax, plus the car is exempt from London’s congestion charge.

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


The big difference is the performance – which has been increased without affecting the class-leading efficiency. The 1.6-litre oil-burner produces an extra 6bhp and 30Nm of torque  – taking its total outputs to 113bhp and a useful 270Nm. Not only does that make this C30 the most powerful eco-diesel on the market, but it also shaves nearly a second off the 0-60mph time.

The benchmark sprint now takes 10.7 seconds, although top speed is still 118mph. These might seem like 

small gains, but they make a big difference to the way the C30 drives. While the previous car certainly never felt slow, the throttle response is now more immediate, and it’s much easier to stay inside the 

torque band and make quick progress. 

By adding a sixth gear ratio, Volvo has also improved motorway refinement, although the engine can 

still sound a little gruff when pushed hard. This isn’t our only dynamic gripe. On the whole the C30 is capable and composed in corners, but while the lowered suspension cuts aerodynamic drag, it makes for a firmer ride. 

The SE version we drove does come with a decent amount of equipment, although you have to pay extra for Bluetooth and rear parking sensors, which other manufacturers include as standard.

Rival: Golf BlueMotion

With matching economy figures, the eco VW isn’t quite as quick as the C30, but thanks to much more passenger space and a boot that’s 100 litres larger, it has the edge for practicality.

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