2008 Volvo C30 S review

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2008 Volvo C30 S 2.4i review & road test

Model Tested:

  • 2008 Volvo C30 S 2.4i


  • None fitted

Recommended Retail Price:

  • $35,950

Styling, smoothness, engine performs well

Bland steering, bland brakes, bland interior

CarAdvice Rating: (3.5/5)

- Photographs and review by Karl Peskett

My wife was driving behind me the other day. I happened to be behind the wheel of this Volvo C30 S at the time. She rang me on my mobile to tell me something. As I picked up the phone and put it on speaker (naturally), I didn't even get a hello.

The first thing she said to me was, "You know, your bum looks big in that."

And that pretty much sums up the styling of this car. You see, Volvo has paid homage to one of its classics, the 1800ES. Not that that's a bad thing. In its heyday, the 1800ES, along with the P1800 coupe, was a masterpiece of design. It was certainly different.

The slanted rear glass panel, the concave waistline; The 1800ES was a nice piece of metalwork. And to my eyes at least, the C30 is also a fine looking automobile.

So yes, it's very bum oriented, but I reckon that's a good thing. It certainly gets everyone talking anyway. And people talking and pointing is better than apathy - Volvo has to score points for polarising the people.

Next page...

In S form, you get the basic package. It's nice to once in a while get the base model of a car, where PR departments normally load up their test cars with options. The black C30 S, you see here, only came with automatic transmission.

So as a car, how is it? Well, it's actually quite a relaxed drive. And that's not a negative thing, either.

The 2.4-litre inline five cylinder petrol engine doesn't create any output records with a kilowatt rating of 125, and 230Nm of torque. But it doesn't mean that it's got no pull.

Certainly it's very linear in the way it gives you its power, but the top end delivery is quite surprising. In fact, overtaking on country roads is a sinch. A 0-100km/h time of 8.8 seconds is not to be sneezed at too, especially when there are cars making a lot more power which can't match that.

And the automatic which mates up to the engine is a fine unit too. It's smooth and willing, although the response of the manual gate could be a little snappier.

Behind the wheel, you'll find that the steering is dull, but has nice weighting. What's interesting is you can hear the servo assistance when wheeling around in carparks at slow speed. There's an electric whirr, as the motor slews the rack back and forth. The turning circle's not bad, either.

The C30 S handles reasonably, with a slight understeer bias, typical of heavier front-wheel-drives. The brakes need a little push to give their best, but they don't fade too much, and the grip to ABS calibration is rather good.

The ride is on the firmer side, but it's acceptable. It does crash slightly on harsh ridges, and can be a little jittery in some situations. The damping is obviously different to the two cars built on the same platform - the Focus and Mazda 3. But where it feels better is in body rigidity.

The body has a fairly solid feel about it. Thank the hefty side intrusion beams for that. This does two things to the car. It reduces room inside which means that there's no pretensions for it being a five seater. But it also adds to the weight of the doors. Still, for the reduced room, four adults can comfortably sit in it with no issues. The rear can feel a little claustrophobic though, with smaller rear windows.

The seating however is excellent. Even the base cloth, if it can be called that - it's more a synthetic material - is nice. There's just enough bolstering and padding for the chairs to look like chairs, and not like something that's been ripped off the shelves of Ikea.

The base stereo is alright - option up the DynAudio stuff if you can - and the switchgear feel and interior finish is a cut above its Ford and Mazda siblings. But you'd hope so, with a starting price of $36K.

With no real surprise-and-delight features though, the justification for buying one will surely be the safety angle. That's fine, except there are ANCAP five-star cars which come in well under thirty grand.

It'd be nice to think that there'll be a few C30's running around because at least they're non-conformist and far from bland. Even so, as unique a looker as it is, the base model, (S), feels a little out of place in the C30 lineup. The D5 has the torque and the T5 has the headkicking power and handling.

But in this car, the 2.4 engine just isn't inspiring enough, and the interior lacks ambience. The C30 S, therefore feels a little underwhelming. It's not a bad car, just not a great one.

There's that whole style versus substance argument again...

CarAdvice Overall Rating:
How does it Drive:
How does it Look:
How does it Go:


  • Engine: 2435cc 5-cylinder petrol
  • Power: 125kW
  • Torque: 230Nm
  • Transmission: Five-speed Geartronic Automatic
  • Top Speed: 215km/h
  • 0-100km/h: 8.8 seconds
  • 0-400m: N/A
  • Fuel Consumption: 9.0 litres / 100km (Combined)
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 62 litres
  • Fuel Type: 91RON Unleaded
  • ANCAP Rating: Five Star
  • Safety: TCS; Front, Side & Curtain Airbags
  • Turning Circle: 10.6 metres
  • Weight: 1437kg (Tare)
  • Wheels: 16-inch