Economy and class
Volvo’s brilliant new diesel is a sign of things to come, writes Mark Hinchliffe
THE wheels are the first hint that something is different about this new green Volvo. The two-door C30 DRIVe hatch runs futuristic plate-style wheel covers that are said to reduce turbulence and improve fuel efficiency. And that is what this car is all about: economy.
It sips a claimed 3.8 litres of diesel for every 100km, giving it a conceivable cruising range of 1300km on a single 52-litre tank and producing only 99g of CO2 for each kilometre it travels.
The only car more economical on Australian roads is the diesel Fiesta ECOnetic.
So the Volvo beats any hybrid on sale and even the tiny three-cylinder Suzuki Alto, as well as pointing to a series of future Swedish cars that will also carry the DRIVe badge.
THE DRIVe version of the C30 costs $36,990, about $12,000 more than the smaller Fiesta, so it’s one of the better-value Volvos in recent history. It’s really cheap at the fuel pump.
However, it’s a Volvo so it also comes with a host of safety features, plenty of creature comforts and excellent build quality.
THE DRIVe gear in the C30 is built around a stop-start system for the engine and a regenerative braking package.
The stop-start technology automatically switches off the engine when the vehicle is stationary, even for only a couple of seconds. In other diesel cars, such as the Mini, this sort of system feels jerky, but Volvo claims a worthwhile economy benefit of up to 8 per cent. If you find it annoying, you can turn it off with the button on the centre console, though you will have to do that every time you start the car because it defaults to on.
The stop-start system’s economy drive is aided by the regenerative system that charges the battery as soon as the driver brakes or takes the foot off the accelerator, relieving the engine of that function and thereby reducing fuel consumption.