2008 Volvo C30

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Key Specs
Our Take
Road Test
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Key Specs

of the 2008 Volvo C30. Base trim shown.

  • Body Type:
  • Combined MPG:
    23 Combined MPG
  • Engine:
    227-hp, 2.5-liter I-5 (premium)
  • Drivetrain:
    Front-wheel Drive
  • Transmission:
    6-speed manual w/OD
  • View more specs

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Interesting all-glass hatch design
  • Strong turbo five-cylinder
  • Sporty handling
  • Six-speed manual's refinement

The Bad

  • Tall bumper makes for high cargo liftover
  • Small cargo area opening for a hatchback
  • Instruments' thin numerals hard to read at a glance
  • Air conditioning temperature control not shown in degrees
  • D-pillar, rear head restraints restrict visibility

Notable Features of the 2008 Volvo C30

  • New for 2008
  • Turbo inline-five-cylinder engine
  • Polarizing, flowing center console
  • Custom Build program

2008 Volvo C30 Road Test

Mike Hanley
The once utilitarian hatchback has become the new cool car (again), with automakers flooding the market with small, uniquely styled models. Volvo's new four-seat C30 joins the Mini Cooper — the car that really rejuvenated this segment — and the Volkswagen GTI in the premium-hatch subcategory.

Like the Mini Cooper, the C30 is defined by its styling. The Volvo's interesting shape sets it apart from its competitors, and it also has a healthy dose of athleticism thanks to its turbo five-cylinder engine and sport-tuned chassis. I know what you're thinking, but I'm not pulling your leg: The C30 really is a Volvo, and it's one that has the goods to create a loyal group of followers like the Cooper and GTI enjoy.

Styling
I've been a fan of the Volvo S40's face since it was last redesigned, and I'm glad to see the look spreading across the Volvo brand to models like the S80 and now the C30, which is related to both the S40 sedan and V50 wagon. C30-specific cues include black eyebrows on the upper portion of the headlights and more aggressive trim pieces on the lower portion of the front bumper. It's an assertive look, but as you move around to the back of the car, the hatchback starts to look a little funky.

The C30's downward sloping roofline leads into one of the most unique liftgates available. It's an all-glass affair that has a sculptural quality; it looks like it belongs on the wall of an art gallery, not on the ...

The once utilitarian hatchback has become the new cool car (again), with automakers flooding the market with small, uniquely styled models. Volvo's new four-seat C30 joins the Mini Cooper — the car that really rejuvenated this segment — and the Volkswagen GTI in the premium-hatch subcategory.

Like the Mini Cooper, the C30 is defined by its styling. The Volvo's interesting shape sets it apart from its competitors, and it also has a healthy dose of athleticism thanks to its turbo five-cylinder engine and sport-tuned chassis. I know what you're thinking, but I'm not pulling your leg: The C30 really is a Volvo, and it's one that has the goods to create a loyal group of followers like the Cooper and GTI enjoy.

Styling
I've been a fan of the Volvo S40's face since it was last redesigned, and I'm glad to see the look spreading across the Volvo brand to models like the S80 and now the C30, which is related to both the S40 sedan and V50 wagon. C30-specific cues include black eyebrows on the upper portion of the headlights and more aggressive trim pieces on the lower portion of the front bumper. It's an assertive look, but as you move around to the back of the car, the hatchback starts to look a little funky.

The C30's downward sloping roofline leads into one of the most unique liftgates available. It's an all-glass affair that has a sculptural quality; it looks like it belongs on the wall of an art gallery, not on the back of a Volvo. According to C30 producer manager Art Battaglia, the hatch design was inspired by the Volvo 1800 ES, which was sold in the U.S. in limited numbers in the early '70s. The glass hatch is bordered by elongated taillights similar to the ones on Volvo's SUVs and wagons, and the D-pillars are dramatically raked forward.

The result is one of the most stylish hatchbacks on the road. The style isn't without its downsides, but I'll address those later in the Cargo & Towing section.

Ride & Handling
The base suspension setup makes for a bumpy trip on rough pavement, but it's no worse than a GTI in terms of ride quality. On the plus side, the suspension makes the C30 a car that could easily entertain you on your favorite two-lane road.

The C30 has decent steering response, but the system has a somewhat disconnected feel that's unlike the suspension and doesn't jive with the rest of the car's high-strung personality; it doesn't compare to a Cooper S' dialed-in steering.

The C30's four-wheel-independent suspension uses MacPherson struts in front and a multilink arrangement in the rear. Front and rear stabilizer bars are standard. On base Version 1.0 models, the suspension meets the road on standard 17-inch alloy wheels. A variety of wheel styles are offered, and 18-inchers are included on Version 2.0 trim levels. Version 2.0 models also feature the Dynamic Chassis suspension, which features stiffer tuning. The Dynamic Chassis is available on Version 1.0 cars through the Custom Build option program.

Turbo Power
All C30s are powered by a turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-five-cylinder that produces 227 horsepower at 5,000 rpm and 236 pounds-feet of torque at only 1,500 rpm. Unlike some turbocharged engines that require premium fuel, the inline-five-cylinder runs on regular gasoline, which will save you money every time you're at the pump. With the standard six-speed manual, the C30 achieves an EPA-estimated 19/28 mpg (city/highway); choosing the optional five-speed automatic results in estimates of 19/27 mpg.

I'm glad Volvo decided to make the turbo five-cylinder the standard engine in U.S.-bound C30s, as its strong performance really complements the rest of the car. Acceleration is accompanied by a high-pitched whirring sound from the turbo, and Volvo says the car can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds with the manual transmission. There's slight engine vibration at idle, but the five-cylinder smoothes out nicely the moment you rev it.

My test car came equipped with the six-speed manual, and it is a well-executed transmission. The shifter has medium throws and moves from gear to gear with appropriate slickness. The transmission works with a light clutch pedal that won't wear out your left leg even if you find yourself stuck in a stretch of stop-and-go traffic.

The Inside
Like the exterior, the C30's cabin is highlighted by a design element, specifically a flowing center control panel. It's similar to the one in the S40 and V50, and the thin panel is partially separated from the rest of the dash, leaving room for a small storage bin behind it. It's a polarizing design, for sure — I found it modern and appealing while my wife thought it was ugly.

Whatever your opinion of the center console's design, its controls for things like the audio system and air conditioning are nicely integrated. The systems all share one LCD display, which each system monopolizes when necessary, like when you're tuning the radio or adjusting the air conditioning system's fan speed. It's an ergonomic setup overall, but I couldn't get used to the fact that the temperature setting doesn't display the exact temperature in its readout. Instead of setting the cabin at 72 degrees Fahrenheit, for instance, you have to guess where 72 falls between Low and High.

The C30 has front and rear bucket seats trimmed in Volvo's synthetic T-Tec material. Leather seats are optional. The T-Tec front buckets provide decent comfort, but they're on the narrow end of the spectrum and some occupants might find that the seat catches them in the wrong places. The standard manual seats (power seats are optional) are highly adjustable and include seat height, seat cushion angle and lumbar support controls. A tilt/telescoping steering wheel is standard.

The rear bucket seats are tolerable for adults as long as the front seats aren't slid too far rearward. Seat cushioning is rather firm, and the upright backrest might prove uncomfortable on longer trips.

From the driver's perspective, the primary downfall of the C30's cabin is that rear visibility is restricted due to wide D-pillars on either side of the glass hatch, as well as big rear-seat head restraints.

Safety
There's no shortage of safety features in the C30, including standard all-disc antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist, side-impact airbags for the front seats, side curtain airbags, an electronic stability system and active front head restraints.

Volvo's Blind Spot Information System is optional. BLIS uses cameras to monitor both sides of the C30 and will illuminate a light near the appropriate side mirror when a vehicle has moved into the driver's blind spot.

Cargo & Towing
The C30's cargo area measures 12.9 cubic feet, which is less than a two-door GTI's 15.1 cubic feet but greater than the 5.7 cubic feet in the Mini Cooper S. With the C30's rear seats folded, there's 20.2 cubic feet of space.

While it probably comes as no surprise that small cars have modest cargo areas, the bigger issue with the C30 is loading and unloading cargo into that space. First of all, the C30 has a high rear bumper to clear when loading luggage. The opening itself isn't all that large for a hatchback, either. Both of these downsides can be traced back to the C30's all-glass hatch, which is relatively small compared to other liftgates. Hard as it may be to believe considering the name on the grille, this is a case of functionality following form.

When properly equipped, the C30 can tow up to 2,000 pounds.

Custom Build Program
In addition to traditional optional features like a navigation system, power moonroof and Sirius Satellite Radio, buyers who want to customize the C30 can do so through Volvo's Custom Build program. Custom Build features include bi-xenon headlights, BLIS, cruise control, special trim pieces and aluminum pedals. There are also more exterior and interior color combinations offered with the program. In addition to the cost of any options, there is an additional $300 fee for using the Custom Build program.

C30 in the Market
Battaglia says the C30 is designed to bring younger buyers to the Volvo brand. Lots of automakers talk about developing a young buyer base, but only a few actually seem to come up with a product this group will actually like and — just as important — be able to buy without a great deal of financial pain.

Despite some of the downfalls with the functionality of the hatch, the C30's distinctive appearance should appeal to young buyers looking to stand out behind the wheel, and the pricing should prove equally attractive. My test car's as-tested price was slightly less than $24,000, and it came with everything I'd want except cruise control, which adds about $500 including the Custom Build charge. A hatchback isn't everyone's thing, but if it's yours, this new Volvo has a lot going for it.

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2008 C30 Video

Cars.com's Mike Hanley takes a look at the 2008 Volvo C30.

Latest 2008 C30 Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.8)
Performance
(4.8)
Interior Design
(4.5)
Comfort
(4.6)
Reliability
(4.6)
Value For The Money
(3.9)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

Extremely reliable!

by Matt from Olympia, WA on June 15, 2018

I really like how much power my C-30 has, but also gets very good mileage! I like the fact that it is also very safe! Read full review

(5.0)

A blast to drive

by Middletown C30 on April 24, 2018

I love this car. It's fun to drive and it is very solid feeling. The car has had regular maintenance and it has been very reliable. The lines of this car are timeless plus it doesn't look like the ... Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2008 Volvo C30 currently has 2 recalls

Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

The 2008 Volvo C30 has not been tested.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The C30 received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker