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The Urban Dink: 2008 Volvo C30

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Finally! A car in the fleet that fits the theme of this column perfectly. I’ll admit there were others I could’ve squeezed in from this point of view but in the end, I think the wait was well worth it.

You can’t talk about the Volvo C30 without keeping it in the context of its two main competitors: the Volkswagen GTI and the Mini Cooper S. Neither of those cars has won me over completely, even as The Urban Dink, mainly because they both have harsh rides — to help with performance — that are not the most fun to live with from day to day. For me — and just me here — I need some more compromise on that front. That’s where the C30 wins points, big time.

The steering is the most precise I’ve found from Volvo and enthusiasts will have a hard time faulting it or the six-speed manual and quick spooling turbo-charged five-cylinder engine. The fun factor is really high zipping through narrow city streets and the potholes don’t jar you like the GTI and Cooper S. That to me is the perfect tradeoff, even if the gearhead numbers lean towards the other two cars. 

One non-gearhead factor that the C30 also wins is the wife’s approval. The Volvo’s trendy looks, comfortable seats and almost-gentle ride really hit a home run with her. Even when she was squeezed into the backseat for an airport run to pick up a visiting family member, she was comfortable. The back seats are really well done. They recline backwards, adding to the headroom, despite the C30’s slanted roofline, although she did say it felt like she was riding in the trunk.

Then there’s that trunk. The glass hatch is the predominant style element and obviously there isn’t a ton of cargo space under it. Folding the rear seats flat will make enough room for most grocery runs, but you’ll never be able to move furniture. We fit some suitcases and three people just fine though without having to put either back seat down.

I drove the C30 1.0 which is the introductory version. It starts at $22,700, almost the same price as a two-door GTI. It comes with everything you’d need besides cruise control. I rarely use cruise control — and obviously not in the city — unless I’m testing a car so I don’t see that as a big loss. You can move up to the 2.0 at $25,700, and that comes with options that include added bodywork, different wheels and, of course, cruise control. Read Mike Hanley’s full review to learn a bit more, and you can watch a video of the C30 there as well. As for The Urban Dink, he’d take a C30 in a second.

2008 Volvo C30 Expert Review (
More C30 News (KickingTires)

Photo of David Thomas
Former managing editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon. Email David Thomas

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