You know how frustrating it can be when other people really like a movie, but it just doesn't resonate with you? That's what I'm experiencing with the 2008 Volvo C30. I've long admired Volvos for their style, class and reputation for safety. The C30 has the classic Volvo look, at least in the front, and it provides a solid and safe-feeling ride (with a turbocharged five-cylinder engine thrown in for kicks and giggles).
I threw myself into the role of test driver. The C30 made its way through curves and crested hills with the greatest of ease - a true natural. Its handling was impeccable, which was apparent to everyone. As we pulled into a parking spot at my son's school, all eyes were on the C30. Some kids in a nearby school bus even hollered out the windows, "Hey, we like your car!"
Positioned to compete with the Mini Cooper (a car that I really loved), the C30 does have a few added benefits that the Mini doesn't, such as a slightly roomier interior with more rear legroom for the kids, more cargo space for the kids' stuff, and a more car-like, less go-kart-like ride. But despite all of that, and despite my MotherProof.com colleague's raves about the C30, I was still hesitant to offer it a standing ovation.
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair
SENSE AND STYLE Family friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Fair Fun factor (None, Some, Good times, Groove on): Good times - Groove on
If you love Volvo's signature Euro-looking front end, the C30 won't disappoint; I love the style myself. I think it looks strong, chiseled and handsome enough to be the leading man in any action flick. From the side, the C30 is youthful, sporty and appeals to anyone who loves a Volvo. But if you walk around to the car's rear, you might be surprised.
Personally, I don't like the rear end on this one. It's oddly curvy, with a glass hatch and taillights that jut out from the car's body. The C30, rear-end styling and all, is a hit in Europe and is grabbing the attention of a new younger generation of Volvo buyers in the U.S. The C30's rear-end design serves another purpose, though: It helps protect rear occupants from being hurt in rear-end collisions, according to a Volvo spokesman.
The Passion Red paint color was the best red-carpet welcome I could've asked for, but I did notice that the C30 drew a bit of attention from our men in blue. This was annoying; I don't speed, so I knew I was being judged by the car I was driving - or rather, the color of the car I was driving. I didn't get pulled over, but at that moment I decided to never own a red car. I didn't like the attention... well, at least not that kind.
The driver's seat of the C30 was highly adjustable, and once I moved it and the steering wheel around a bit I was able to find a comfortable position. The design of the control panel was simple and cool-looking. For the A/C and heat controls, Volvo gives you a simplistic-looking image of a seated person (reminded me of the stick figures that I draw, so I got a kick out of it). If you want some heat on your feet, you push the figure's feet button and so on.
The interior in my test car was two-toned, which added flair without being obnoxious (some two-toned interiors are). For those who tend to be two-tone phobic, the standard seats in the base model are a solid color. The seat upholstery had an interesting texture but it was neither cloth nor leather; it was Kalix T-Tech, a wet-suit-like material. The idea behind this textile is to increase comfort via temperature resistance. What does this mean to you? It means no more burnt bums in the summer or frozen ones in the winter! The fabric is supposed to be easy to clean, but I didn't get to test it because my kids didn't make a single mess in the C30.
My mysteriously non-messy kids enjoyed the two-seater backseat as well as the pass-thru to the rear cargo area. They spent several minutes each day climbing between the backseat and the cargo area before they buckled into their booster seats and gave me permission to start the car.
As we made our first voyage in the Volvo, the kids started complaining because there weren't any cupholders in this back row (they can be added as a $25 a la carte option). My lil' darlings also had difficulty maneuvering the front seats so they could get into the backseat; even I struggled with this one. Instead of levers, the C30 has handles that you pull straight up to move the front seats forward. It was hard to pull, and it moved the entire seat back and forth, which meant that I had to readjust my seating position after each entry or exit.
For 80 years, Volvo has been known for its safety standards. Here are just some of the many standard safety features on C30's list of credits:
* Four-wheel antilock brakes
* Brake assist
* Front- and side-impact airbags
* Side curtain airbags for the first and second rows
* Side-impact bars
* Stability and traction control
Volvo highlights its commitment to safety on its website with its My Volvo Saved My Life club, where you can read stories of car accident survivors. The website also features a list of Volvo's safety innovations. Did you know that that Volvo created the first pregnant version of a crash-test dummy to determine the effects of car accidents on unborn children? That was pretty darn thoughtful, Volvo - we love that!