Volvo C30 1.6D DRIVe review

Volvo C30 1.6D DRIVe review

This 4-seater sports coupe is easily my favourite 'green' car to date because it is enjoyable to drive, yet naturally economical without any effort from the driver. And gratifying improvements are possible with care.

Build quality seemed good and the C30 looks good too, well, except for those aerodynamic wheels. Pricey though.

Review by Russell Bray for


This isn't a rorty version so the sleek looks contradict the available accelerative abilities, but it is agile enough through corners. The 1560cc four-cylinder turbo diesel engine drives the front wheels via a slick five-speed manual gearbox allowing 0-60mph in 10.7 seconds. From rest this C30 model feels almost hybrid like being eerily quiet and happy to coast. Maximum power, 107bhp arrives at 4,000rpm and maximum push, 177 lbs ft, from 1,750rpm. Maximum speed was 118mph.


Safe, predictable front-wheel drive behaviour but pleasingly neutral until you push the low rolling resistance tyres too much when understeer sets in progressively. Firm-ish ride. Energy saving steering 'feels' a bit odd if cornering briskly. Some other premium hatches feel more involving to drive. Too much travel in brake pedal before brakes start to work. Better vision out than you might expect from a low slung sports coupe.


Reminiscent of the 480ES coupe of 24 years ago yet still distinctive and instantly recognisable on the road. Aerodynamic, fuel saving flat disc wheel trims improve efficiency but make the C30 look slightly toy-like. Sleek shape helps reduce wind noise at motorway cruising speeds. Large doors make front seat access easy but rear is awkward because seat belt gets in the way and front ones don't want to return to position. Length 4266mm. Width 1782mm.


Audi A3 Cabriolet One of those cars you can get in and drive easily without a handbook with only the optional (£1,500) satellite navigation requiring some head scratching. Front seats very supportive but not uncomfortably hard. Rear seats pretty good once you have inserted yourself but headroom limited.

I don't usually stall cars new to me but the light clutch caught me out. Mushy brake pedal costs you time and distance before there's a response.


Official fuel economy: Urban 66.4mpg, extra-urban 85.6mpg, combined 74.3mpg. This translates to a fuel cost of around 7.5p per mile. Carbon dioxide emissions of 99g/km put the Volvo C30 DRIVe 1.6D into tax band A. Annual road tax is free and it lies in insurance group 17. Warranty covers three years/ 60,000 miles.


Already impressive economy of 1.6 litre diesel engine improved by stop-start system which also reduces C02 to the sub 100g/km Holy Grail. Impressive considering the size of car and that it is not a hybrid. Battery is charged by using energy from braking. Change up gear indicator and low rolling resistance tyres encourage you to make the most of our highly taxed fossil fuel. Gear ratios have been optimised for fuel economy. Volvo says the C30 is 85% recyclable. CO2 emissions of 99g/km are impressive, as is the WhatGreenCar Rating of 29.


Standard ES spec includes alloy wheels, front fog lights, power steering, engine immobiliser, alarm, climate control, RDS radio and CD player, cruise control, driver information display (av speed, fuel consumption etc), electric front windows, split folding rear seats and electric door mirrors. Options include metallic paint (£525), electric sunroof (£595), keyless drive (£350), leather seats (£1,250), satellite navigation (£1,500) and rear parking sensors (£375).


Audi A3 Cabriolet

Model tested: Volvo C30 1.6D DRIVe
Body-style: Two-door sports coupe
Engine/CO2: 109bhp 1.6 litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel/ 99gCO2/km
Trim grades: ES, SE. SE Lux, R-Design

On-road price: From £15,355 for SE spec. As tested £23,160
Warranty: Three years/60,000 miles
In the showroom: Available now
Review rating: 4.5 STARS

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Russell Bray

Author:Russell Bray
Date Updated:27th Apr 2010

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