VOLVO C30: 15,167 miles

FINAL REPORT: It’s with sadness we say farewell to stylish Swede

  • I love the styling of the C30 – and not only on the outside. With its classy floating centre console and smart switchgear, plus generous equipment, it’s a great place to spend time. It doesn’t have lots of space, but four adults can squeeze in without complaint.
  • The rigid and tailored parcel shelf for the load area is a pain. Not only does it restrict the size of the boot opening, but it is also fiddly to remove. And, when you do take the shelf out, its three-dimensional shape makes it really difficult to store.

Since the Volvo C30 joined our fleet a year ago, a lot has changed. The economy has crashed, evidence of organic life has been found on Mars and Formula One has its first black world champion.

What’s more, when we first got the keys, the Swedish hatch was rarer than a snow leopard. Now, as we prepare to return it to Volvo, there seems to be a C30 on every street corner. During my first few weeks at the wheel of AC08 OTU, I loved the way people stopped and stared, as if I was floating past in some sort of spaceship. But this doesn’t happen so much any more. While the C30 still attracts admiring glances, they’re not the ‘Oh my God, what’s that?’ looks that it used to. Even if bystanders are less impressed by the Volvo, I’ve been won over. The C30 isn’t a car for driving enthusiasts, yet its relaxed character makes it great for longer trips or the congestion of city centre traffic.

I’m very sad to see it go – but my loss is someone else’s gain. In fact, the sales manager at Volvo Central London, where we did our photo shoot, was very excited to hear our model would be available for her to sell. She said: “We can’t get enough of these. The C30 has really taken off in the past 12 months, and used ones are hard to find because people seem to keep hold of them.” Before putting in an early bid for the car, she wanted to know – like any prospective buyer – if there had beenany problems with it.

There have, but they’ve all beendown to operator error. For instance, the brake fluid got contaminated...when I put water in the wrong reservoir by mistake. The parcel shelf fell apart... after I tripped down some steps and landed on it. A scratch appeared on the back of the bumper... when I clumsily attempted to squeeze my bike into the car’s unfeasibly small boot. And the metal centre console got dented... when I accidentally dropped my phone on it. One of the pretty alloys is badly kerbed too, although I managed to isolate all the damage to a single wheel; the other three are all still pristine.

Apart from all that, the C30 has been a joy to run. I haven’t even had to take it to a dealer for a service – despite the fact I’ve clocked up more than 15,000 miles, the maintenance light hasn’t come on yet. That’s saved me the £230 price of the first check-up – and is the kind of change I welcome!

Second Opinion

While I agree with Mat that our C30 looks great with its two-tone paint finish, the car falls down in key areas. Its numb responses on the road are a disappointment, and the diesel is gruff. The cabin is also cramped and the boot too small for families. Still, it’s proven very reliable in its 12 months on our fleet. 

Ross Pinnock Road test editor

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