2008 Volvo C30 D5 review and road test
Model tested: 2008 Volvo C30 D5 automatic
Recommended Retail Price: $43,950
Options fitted: High-Performance Sound AM/FM radio, 8 speakers – $1350
Styling, handling/ride balance, safety, torque
Loud engine, stolid steering, pricey
CarAdvice rating: (3.75)
Photograhy and review by Karl Peskett
Small with big is good. Just look back to the good old days. The Holden Torana GTR XU-1 – which I’m proud to say was my introduction to motoring (courtesy of my father) – was one such recipe.
Small body, powerful engine – it made for a great package. So if you combine something small with a torquey engine, you’re automatically onto a good thing, right? Well, yes and no. Small with big is good … usually.
The smallest Volvo, the C30 D5 we had on test has had the engine from the S80 D5 and the V50 D5 shoehorned into it. It seems like a reasonable proposition on paper. Plenty of torque locked into a capable chassis, and being a smaller hatch, it should have plenty of get-up-and-go.
It’s funky and chunky, but is it spunky? Well that’s all in the eye of the beholder according to some. It’s been said before, but it’s the looks that will attract and detract. It’s a love it or loathe it design, and here at the CarAdvice office, we love it.
But a good looking car is nothing, if what’s beneath the skin is lacking. Well, the chassis and underfloor is shared with the excellent Mazda3 and superb Ford Focus, so the C30 has a good foundation.
But where Volvo sets itself apart is the cylinder count. Across the range, a series of five-cylinder engines are used. Each is model-specific.
There’s a petrol with a 2.4-litre capacity (2.4i/S), a petrol with a 2.5-litre capacity which is turbocharged (T5), and a diesel with a 2.4-litre capacity, which also is turbocharged (D5).
In the petrol engines, you get a warbly, unique note which really sets them apart from other cylinder quantities. If anything, the five-cylinder petrol motors sound more in line with a cut-down V10, which when you think about it, they really are.
But this diesel takes on another personality altogether. At idle, it’s like any other, with the typical ‘chunkalunk’ sound rattling away in the background.
But stick the boot in and it’s loud, throbby, and to be honest, a little intrusive. Think Peugeot/Citroen, and Volkswagen, and you’ve got the idea of the masters of diesel engines. Unfortunately, this one doesn’t cut it as far as noise goes.
The volume is turned down once you’ve stopped accelerating, but in stop-start city traffic, the NVH level from the engine is very agricultural. Thankfully it doesn’t sound like a truck, due to the five-cylinder configuration, but the sound is always there, and in comparison to other cars, it can get a bit wearing.
That’s not to say it doesn’t deliver the goods, it does. With a swell of torque from the bottom end, the D5 certainly pullls along very well, and each successive gearchange maintains the momentum. Surprisingly, too, the torque-steer from running 350Nm through the front wheels, is well contained.
There’s some slip in the wet, but the ever-watchful traction control reigns it in, and hands back the grip immediately, so you never feel as if you’ll run into trouble.
Make no mistake, Volvo ensures this a safe car. That adds to the weight. So it’s not the quickest thing out of the blocks. 0-100km/h is done in 8.4 seconds – an acceptable, but not amazing, result.
The transmission is also pretty good, being the familiar Geartronic five-speed auto. Not having driven the manual, I can’t pass comment on its action, but if its anything like the manual in the T5, that’d be my pick. Notwithstanding the fact that you also get more power and torque, and use less fuel when you specify a manual.
The rest of the car fares well. Practically, it doesn’t make itself out to be a five-seater to try and compete with other cars. Just four very useable seats, with a decent boot, so that everyone is happy. The rear seats are quite supportive and well-shaped as well.
Braking is good as is the case with most Volvos, and the ride and handling balance is quite good, too, as our test car ran on 17-inch wheels. Apart from the steering which is a bit dead, the dynamics are all good.
But there’s a problem – the C30 D5’s biggest rival is its brother.
You see, it’s going to be hard to justify the D5 when for over a $1460 less, the T5 is there for the taking. Put simply, it’s got more power, better handling, better braking, and with its body-kit and larger wheels, it’s also better looking.
If the engine in the D5 was a bit quieter, and the steering sharpened up a tad, it might be worth the extra money over the base model, let along the top-o-the-wozza sports pack.
But when you factor in the T5 having same space and nicer seats also, you can see why the T gets the tick over the D.
CarAdvice Overall Rating: (3.75)
How does it Drive:
How does it Look:
How does it Go: