chic Volvo hatch
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.
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.