chic Volvo hatch

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige -

To achieve these re­mark­able fig­ures, Volvo has tweaked the en­gine, trans­mis­sion and body­work to chase bet­ter econ­omy.

The DRIVe also has stop-start technology, which switches off the en­gine when the car is sta­tion­ary. This technology alone can trim fuel use by up to 8 per cent. A re­gen­er­a­tive sys­tem also charges the bat­tery as the driver brakes.

The C30 also has six airbags, brake lights that flash in emer­gen­cies, whiplash-pro­tec­tion seats, elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol, trac­tion con­trol and anti-skid brakes.

Driv­ing

THE DRIVe’s 80kW 1.6-litre en­gine might sound mod­est, but as with all diesels it sup­ple­ments a smaller power fig­ure with meaty low-down torque — 240Nm from 1750 revs.

The diesel cer­tainly feels a lit­tle slow off the mark, but mid-range urge re­mains strong and the car is a com­pe­tent high­way cruiser.

Volvo claims a zero to 100km/h time of 11.3 sec­onds. It has to be re­mem­bered, though, that this C30 is aimed at econ­omy. For per­for­mance, the S or turbo T5 are log­i­cal choices.

No au­to­matic is avail­able with the DRIVe, a small mark against the car. How­ever, the fivespeed man­ual is a breeze in city traf­fic.

The stop-start sys­tem is a lit­tle dis­con­cert­ing to start with, but a use­ful tool to save fuel.

The en­gine shud­ders to a stop if you re­lease the clutch with the car out of gear at the traf­fic lights. Press the clutch and it restarts. How­ever, if you don’t like it, the sys­tem can be switched off.

With stop-start dis­abled we still man­aged 4.7 litres/100km in nor­mal city driv­ing, mak­ing Volvo’s 3.8 litres achiev­able on a long run.

The C30 is a con­fi­dent and sturdy car to drive and the steer­ing is sharp and well weighted. At higher speeds, the sus­pen­sion copes well with our av­er­age roads with­out dent­ing ride qual­ity. It re­mains com­pli­ant over even the worst bumps.

We sus­pect that the more kilo­me­tres you put be­hind you, the more ap­peal­ing the DRIVe be­comes be­cause the C30 is al­ready such a com­pe­tent car.

In­side, we’ve no­ticed that the en­try Volvos tend to be a lit­tle spar­tan, in a Swedish min­i­mal­ist way, but the cabin, shared with the S40/ V50, is re­fresh­ingly mod­ern and will ap­peal to those who value Scan­di­na­vian aes­thet­ics.

The only stick­ing point is the rub­berised wet­suit-type ma­te­rial used on the seats.

Even so, Volvo still makes some of the most com­fort­able seats in the busi­ness.

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