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2010 Volvo C30: New Swedish Hatchback

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Volvo has been making some major stylistic changes to their lineup in the past few months in an effort to distance themselves from the boxy Volvos of old.  The C30 hatchback continues this trend (Volvo calls it a “SportsCoupe”, one word, but it’s really a hatchback) and it incorporates a variety of disparate elements that come together into a nice final package.

Since the 2010 C30 is a mid-generation revision, the engine is the same as the 2009, a turbocharged five-cylinder T5.  This is by no means a bad thing as the T5 has been around for a while now and has proven itself to be reliable, but still powerful enough to make for some fun driving.  The engine is rated at 227 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque, but those relatively high numbers are mitigated by the fact that the C30 weighs 3,200 pounds.  That engine is pretty efficient, though, getting 21 mpg city / 30 highway.

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The C30 has had other engine options in Europe, but the U.S. has been stuck with the T5 engine.  However, that may change with the introduction of Volvo’s 1.6-liter DRIVe engine, a small four-cylinder with a built-in Start/Stop function to further increase fuel economy.  While details remain a bit sketchy on how a DRIVe C30 would pan out, one would expect that the car would have to shed a fair amount of weight to retain any of the performance the T5-powered C30 has.

But the styling is the big selling point for Volvo’s new lineup.  The Swedish automaker has had a reputation for years of making incredibly safe, highly practical vehicles.  The downside was those vehicles were always a bit boring.  The “boxy” look started fading in the late 90s, only to be replaced by “boxy meets restrained curves.”  This new 2010 C30 really look like a good car.  When compared to the 2009, the front styling is much more aggressive.  And, whereas the mixture of strong lines and curves in the 2009 was underwhelming, the hard lines in the 2010 are much stronger and bolder.  The curves seem to temper the hard lines, instead of trying (and failing) to make them appealing like last year’s model.

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The other big update to the 2010 model is a new chassis.  The sport chassis (which is an optional extra) lowers the car a little bit and provides a firmer response to the driver.  Handling increases due to this new suspension geometry and also thanks to a regeared steering ratio that makes wheel response much quicker.

The C30 has long been a mainstay in Volvo’s lineup.  It is highly practical and incredibly safe.  With the 2010 model year redesign, you can finally add “stylish”to that list of characteristics.  And, if the sport chassis really plans out, you may even be able to add “sporty.”  The car is set to go into production in November of this year, leading to a December or January release.  No pricing has been announced at the time of this writing, but it’ll probably be about $23,000-$25,000 depending on options.

Pictures of the Volvo C30

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