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Volvo C30 T5 R-Design road test

by Mark Walker

3rd December, 2012

Home > Road Tests > Volvo

Related stories:
Volvo brings on more "Polestar"
2nd April, 2012
New Volvo C30 released
10th May, 2010
Volvo C30 Polestar Performance Concept
23rd April, 2010

Test Car

The test car was the Volvo C30 T5 R-Design finished in Ice White.


Our test vehicle, the range topping C30 T5 R-Design is priced from $43,490* for the manual version. Add $1,500* for the automatic gearbox. Our test vehicle is manual with no options fitted. According to the Volvo Cars Australia website, drive-away pricing** for our test car is $48,941**.

Four variants are available in the C30 range. The entry level model is known as DRIVe and is priced from $36,990* (manual only).

The T5 S is priced from $37,990* for the manual version (add $1,500* for the auto). The T5 Lifestyle is priced from $40,490* (add $1,500* for automatic).

Model background

The C30 was launched in 2006 and is currently Volvoís smallest and cheapest vehicle. Now nearing the end of its current cycle, it still looks reasonably fresh thanks to its unique shape.

Driving the Volvo C30 T5 R-Design

As with all C30s, the T5 R-Design is front-wheel drive. It's also the most powerful thanks to a 2.5 litre, front transverse mounted, five cylinder, 20 valve DOHC turbocharged petrol-fuelled engine.

It feels quick behind the wheel. Volvo claim the T5 R-Design manual can accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 6.3 seconds and on to a maximum race track speed of 240 km/h. The power output is a very reasonable 184 kW at 5,500 rpm and there is plenty of pulling power thanks with 370 Nm of torque available at 3,000 rpm.

We tested the manual version which is a 6 speed transmission. The clutch is light but has enough feel to allow a smooth take-off every time, including when you need to accelerate rapidly. Front grip is reasonable, without being exceptional and if youíre too eager on the accelerator, itís easy to get wheel spin. Iíd still say itís an easy manual to drive for a novice manual transmission driver.

The suspension is firm and adds to the sports performance and feel. The suspension is complemented by 18 inch alloys wrapped in Michelin tyres. On most roads the firm ride doesnít impact comfort levels too much however on some city streets bumps were overly rough.

Unfortunately the exhaust note is not tuned to be sporty. The engine noise is minimal under normal driving conditions, rising under higher revs but without sounding like a high performance vehicle. Also disappointing is the road noise entering the cabin. Itís especially noisy on coarse tarmac. (copyright image)

Stopping power is decent although steering feel could be improved as itís too light. Volvo can also improve the steering wheel. The leather wrapped wheel looks good and feels great to hold but itís too big for this car.

Living with the Volvo C30 T5 R-Design

By no means is the C30 a practical car. There is no mistaking that the C30 is a small car. Officially itís a four seater (2+2). Realistically, itís only possible to have adults in the back if the people in the front are short. There is plenty of width given the specific inclusion of just two rear individual seats. Access to back seats isnít too bad for a two door either, mostly thanks to the long doors and electric driverís seat. The long doors, though, are a hindrance in tight parking spaces.

The boot is tiny. It will fit a tennis racquet but not the golf clubs Ė youíll need to fold the back seat to accommodate cargo of any bulk. This is not the ideal car to collect people from the airport. Due to the glass tailgate, which is light and easy to use, Volvo have had to make the parcel shelf fold downward to conceal the contents of the boot. This means you have to lift a flap on the parcel shelf to access the boot once youíve opened the tailgate. The spare tyre is a space saver.

Even the storage compartments in the cabin are small. There are four cup holders in the front and, granted, they will hold a small cup but they are not practical. The side door bins wonít cope with a bottle of water and the centre console cup holders, whilst big enough, are located directly behind the gear stick making gear changes awkward if a bottle is in the cup holder. As per the current Volvo design mantra, there is also a neat storage area behind the 'floating' centre instrument cluster, accessible from both sides. (copyright image)

The interior does not carry the same amount of style as the exterior. The interior is finished to a high standard, with soft touch buttons and good quality switchgear. The lay out is good too. But the appearance is a little basic in parts and the human shaped climate control direction buttons, another Volvo design quirk, are definitely old school. Still, very easy to use.

The T5 R-Design gets leather seats which offer decent comfort but could include more side support. The driverís seat is electrically adjustable with three memory settings. The steering wheel, gear shifter and hand brake are all leather bound ensuring all touch points have a premium feel.

Bluetooth connectivity is standard allowing audio streaming and telephone connection. Pairing is very easy. USB and iPod connectivity is also standard but not tested on this occasion. The full number pad is a welcome inclusion on all Volvo cars as is the easy to use audio system. The sound quality from the standard system is commendable and is one way to drown out the road noise.

Vision is good and reverse parking is aided by sensors at the rear. The side mirrors fold automatically on locking, a very convenient feature for people parking their car on busy or narrow streets.

Keyless entry/drive is a $700* option.


The Volvo brand is synonymous with safety and the C30 is well equipped with safety technology.

The C30 has been awarded the maximum five star safety rating by ANCAP.

Electronic aids to support the driver include anti-lock braking with electronic brake distribution and emergency brake assist. Dynamic stability and traction control is also standard. (copyright image)

Occupants are protected by front airbags for the driver and front passenger, two full length curtain airbags to the sides and airbags in the front seats to further protect in side impacts.

The Volvo C30 T5 R-Design also features active bi-xenon lights which change direction to follow the turning vehicle and increase visibility where you are looking. There are also daytime LED running lights.

Fuel and emissions

The T5 R-Design is racy but thirsty. Volvo claims the vehicle can achieve fuel consumption of 8.7 litres per 100 km on a combined 'standards test' cycle which is reasonable given the power output. Our actual fuel consumption was less favourable. We used 10.2 litres per 100 km over almost 600 km of driving split approximately 60% highway speeds above 80 km/h and 40% around town. We were mostly quite reserved when it came to throttle use. We expect that many people opting for this car might be more generous with acceleration, pushing the fuel consumption higher.

The fuel tank capacity is 62 litres. (copyright image)

CO2 emissions are 208 grammes per kilometre from the Euro V compliant engine.


Length: 4,266 mm
Width: 2,039 mm including mirrors
Height: 1,447 mm
Wheelbase: 2,640 mm
Weight: 1,388 kg
Boot capacity: 233 litres


The towing capacity is 1,500 kg if towing a braked trailer.


The C30 puts up a good fight against tough competition. It's definitely a fun car to drive although is held back by its lack of practicality. We recommend evaluating it against the other European hot hatches if you're buying in this segment. The main rivals in the sub $50k bracket are the Mini Cooper S and Renault Megane RS. The more expensive Volkswagen Scirocco R and Golf R are also considerations, as is the ever popular, cheaper and slower Golf GTI.


* Manufacturer's List Price (MLP) excludes dealer delivery fees and the numerous statutory charges (commonly known as on-road costs). Additionally, please note that all prices, fees and charges are subject to change without notice, as are the specifications.

** Consult with a local Volvo dealer for the correct ďdrive-awayĒ price (including all on-road costs) for your circumstances as the drive-away price is determined by numerous factors which vary according to location, insurance risk, age, driving record and factors legislated and/or regulated by state and/or territory governments. Our example of a drive-away price may not be the same as your drive-away price! As always, prices, fees and charges are subject to change without notice.

More Volvo News ..... here.

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