2011 Volvo C30

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Key Specs
Our Take
Road Test
Photos
Reviews
Safety & Recalls
Warranty & CPO
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Key Specs

of the 2011 Volvo C30. Base trim shown.

  • Body Type:
  • Combined MPG:
    25 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

  • Interior quality
  • Safety features
  • Strong engine
  • Six-speed manual's refinement
  • Multitude of seat adjustments
  • Roomy glove compartment

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
  • Mushy brakes
  • Loud suspension
  • Somewhat-lazy automatic

Notable Features of the 2011 Volvo C30

  • Restyled front end for 2011
  • 227-hp, turbo inline-five engine
  • Glass rear hatch
  • Manual or automatic
  • Available blind spot warning system

2011 Volvo C30 Road Test

Bill Jackson
I really enjoyed the 2011 Volvo C30. It's fun to drive, has an excellent interior and it looks great after its recent redesign.

Now, if you're the sort of person who has to have a reason for everything — if you never buy a can of soda because you can get more for less in a two-liter bottle, for example — the Volvo C30 isn't for you: It's not utilitarian, it's not super-fast and it sure isn't cheap.

Yet I'm glad to see cars like the C30 being built; after all, if automakers can afford to make them, things can't be that bad, can they?

Getting Around
The C30 is a fun car to drive. It has a 227-horsepower, turbocharged five-cylinder engine that makes 236 pounds-feet of torque, which is a lot of power for such a small car. It's estimated to get 21 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway, and it used premium fuel during my test, though Volvo says regular fuel is recommended.

Our test model came with a five-speed automatic transmission, but I've driven a C30 with the available six-speed manual, and that's the model I strongly recommend if you want a sporty driving experience. It gives more immediate response when you want to get going. All automatic transmissions hesitate to a degree, but it's really noticeable in the C30. That's a shame, because you can tell the C30 has a good engine, and when it gets going it's a lot of fun, but the C30's automatic spoils the fun more than most. The transmissi...

I really enjoyed the 2011 Volvo C30. It's fun to drive, has an excellent interior and it looks great after its recent redesign.

Now, if you're the sort of person who has to have a reason for everything — if you never buy a can of soda because you can get more for less in a two-liter bottle, for example — the Volvo C30 isn't for you: It's not utilitarian, it's not super-fast and it sure isn't cheap.

Yet I'm glad to see cars like the C30 being built; after all, if automakers can afford to make them, things can't be that bad, can they?

Getting Around
The C30 is a fun car to drive. It has a 227-horsepower, turbocharged five-cylinder engine that makes 236 pounds-feet of torque, which is a lot of power for such a small car. It's estimated to get 21 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway, and it used premium fuel during my test, though Volvo says regular fuel is recommended.

Our test model came with a five-speed automatic transmission, but I've driven a C30 with the available six-speed manual, and that's the model I strongly recommend if you want a sporty driving experience. It gives more immediate response when you want to get going. All automatic transmissions hesitate to a degree, but it's really noticeable in the C30. That's a shame, because you can tell the C30 has a good engine, and when it gets going it's a lot of fun, but the C30's automatic spoils the fun more than most. The transmission has a manual-shift mode, though, so you can shift using the console-mounted gearshift. Once I started doing that I enjoyed the car a lot more, but it's still not as good as a stick shift.

The C30 held the road well. It has a stiff suspension, so there's basically no body roll, and the car feels planted to the road. Volvo says it built the C30 so the wheels are at the corners of the car to provide better handling, and I think it pays off.

As you'd expect from a small car with a stiff suspension, you feel the bumps in the road. Our test model was a T5 with a standard chassis and optional 18-inch wheels. You can also get an R-Design model with standard 18-inch wheels and a stiffer sport suspension, but I'd take that version for a long test drive before buying it; the R-Design might be too stiff to live with in a place with rough roads. The standard suspension was jarring enough over the terrible streets in Chicago.

Seeing, Being Seen & Being Heard
Visibility is good in the C30, even bordering on exceptional. I didn't find any objectionable blind spots, though the side mirrors could be a bit larger.

In addition to being a distinguishing design feature of the C30, the large glass hatch in back helps you see what's going on when you're backing up. When I first got the C30 I wondered if a tailgating car would appear to be too close, but I never got that sensation while driving.

The thing about small cars is that other drivers have a harder time seeing you, so you need to be ready for that. I was cut off more than usual in the C30, but you can't blame the car for that.

Being cut off all the time did lead me to discover one undeniably awesome feature of the C30: its horn. Instead of a wimpy, cutesy horn, the C30's is loud and robust. When I did get cut off, I hit the horn and could see the other driver jump from being startled by its bellowing note. (Not that I, ahem, ever did that deliberately.) Nordic skier Charlotte Kalla used to be my favorite Swede, but now it's whichever Volvo engineer put that horn in the C30. Bless you, sir or madam.

Living With the C30
You'd be forgiven for thinking "hatchback = practical," but that's not quite the case with the C30. Sure, it's more practical than a two-seat roadster, but this isn't a family car — unless everyone in your family is smaller than 5-foot-2, packs light and enjoys snug accommodations. I'm about 6-foot-1, and there was no way any adult I know could have ridden behind me.

That's not to say, though, that I was cramped for space while driving the C30. I took it on a couple of three-hour road trips and emerged from both feeling pretty fresh. Volvo provides comfortable seats in the C30 and puts padding in the right places — like where your elbows are.

The cargo area behind the rear seats is small. I could carry a week's worth of groceries pretty easily, but if I had to buy food for more than one person I'm pretty sure I'd have to fold the seats flat.

Overall interior quality is extremely good. I thought the materials used were very nice, and I was a huge fan of how simple and clean everything appeared in the C30. There were a few more buttons than I like in parts of the center console, but overall it was very easy to live with.

All in all, the C30 is a nice place to be if you're just driving yourself and/or one other person, but carrying more than two would be a challenge. It's just not the vehicle for family road trips.

Child Seats
Speaking of families, we installed some child-safety seats to see how they fit. There are two sets of Latch anchors in back that are hard to locate, and there are two top-tether anchors midway down the seatback that are easy to use.

A booster seat fits easily, and the seat belt is well-placed. There's not enough room lengthwise for an infant seat unless the front passenger seat is moved forward, but a rear-facing convertible seat fits without moving the front seat.

C30 Changes and Models
Sharp-eyed folks will notice that the C30 has been redesigned for 2011. Changes include a new hood, front fenders, headlights and grille. (Check out the changes for yourself here.) The rest of the car looks pretty much the same, and I have to admit, I've always been a fan of the car's design. The C30 always looks fresh to me.

There are two trim levels of the Volvo C30: T5 and R-Design. The T5 is the "base" model, and the R-Design is the sportier version. It has a sport chassis that Volvo says lowers the car's center of gravity, plus it gets a stiffer suspension and a quicker steering ratio. It also includes 18-inch wheels, as opposed to the stock 17-inchers. Both the R-Design and T5 get the same engine and either a five-speed automatic or a six-speed manual transmission.

The T5 and R-Design normally look different from the outside, as R-Design models add a spoiler, some body-colored trim pieces, 18-inch wheels, and a bunch of R-Design-branded elements on the inside. I say they "normally" look different because you can buy a T5 with an R-Design package that gives you all the R-Design model's looks, but skips the stiffer suspension. Our test model had this appearance package.

Normally I don't like go-fast appearance pieces, but I'm a big fan of this package. I like how the R-Design model looks, but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want the stiffer R-Design chassis if I intended to drive the C30 every day around Chicago. This lets me have it both ways.

Safety & Reliability
The Volvo C30 is an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick, which means it scores the agency's highest rating, Good, in front, side and rear crash tests, and in a new roof-strength test that measures rollover protection. Antilock brakes and an electronic stability system are standard. See all the standard safety features here. Its predicted reliability is average.

C30 in the Market
I enjoyed my time in the C30, and the more I drove it the more I liked it. The good visibility and decent power (when using the manual shift feature) were the highlights. The downsides are its limited practicality, the automatic transmission and the price. (Our test model topped out at nearly $33,000.)

Overall, the C30 is livable but not practical. It's sporty, but not a high-performance sports car. For less money, you can get cars that are both faster and more practical, such as the Mazdaspeed3 or Subaru Impreza WRX. But not every car purchase is the result of a rational calculation of performance statistics and/or seat count. Sometimes you just want a car that's comfortable, performs reasonably well and looks good. In that competition, the C30 does very well. Just make sure you get the manual transmission.

Send Bill an email 



Latest 2011 C30 Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.7)
Performance
(4.7)
Interior Design
(4.5)
Comfort
(4.6)
Reliability
(4.7)
Value For The Money
(4.5)

What Drivers Are Saying

(2.0)

Good looking car but expensive to maintain.

by RobertC52 from Baltimore on August 26, 2018

I love how it handles and its looks, but, I have owned this car for 2 years , it had 70,000 mile when I bought it and since then, it has cost me thousands in repairs. Finally, the car became useless, ... Read full review

(5.0)

Super!

by dodgyjunk from INdy on August 12, 2018

I recently bought a used volvo c30 from the Ed Martin Acura dealership. It turned out to be a great used car deal!!!! Totally trustworthy dealership!!!!! Phenomenal customer service!!!!! Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2011 Volvo C30 currently has 1 recall

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2011 Volvo C30 T5

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
acceptable
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    48 months / 50,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    48 months / 50,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    48 months / unlimited distance

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Volvo

Program Benefits

24-hour roadside assistance, trip-interruption services, trip-planning services, Carfax vehicle history report and rental car

  • Limited Warranty

    7 years / 100,000 miles

    7 years/100,000 miles; no deductible
  • Eligibility

    Under 5 years / 80,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 130 point inspection and reconditioning.

    See inspection details.

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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