Friday, October 8, 2010

Stylish Volvo C30 T5 R-Design

Volvo C30 T5

PHOTO GALLERY

The C30 should be considered a motoring icon as progressive and stylish as Audi's TT.

NOTHING says "try hard" more than a supposed "sporty" car with fake carbonfibre trim.

You won't find anything quite so gauche in the Volvo C30 T5 R-Design, the turbo version of the cute compact Swedish sports car.

What you do find is tasteful brushed aluminium with interesting textured patterns, high-quality soft-touch plastics and cutting-edge interior design that reflects the radical exterior design.

Introduced in 2007, the C30 still looks fresh and exciting and now comes with the efficient DRIVe diesel variant at one end of the spectrum and the T5 R-Design model at the other.

VALUE

The C30 range starts at $36,150 for the diesel rising substantially to $47,150 for the six-speed manual T5 R-Design and $48,650 for the five-speed adaptive automatic Geartronic transmission. That's about $4000 more than the non-turbo five-cylinder models, so although you are not paying for cubes, you are paying for output.

And it's not an inconsequential amount of power either. You will definitely notice the extra 44kW of go, even though torque is the same at 320Nm. There are also changes to the suspension and steering that make it a more dramatic drive and it's difficult for an enthusiastic driver to put a dollar figure on that.

DESIGN

The C30 should be considered a motoring icon as progressive and stylish as Audi's TT. It looks like nothing else, it seems to be ageing quite well and it is immediately recognisable as a Volvo; even more so now that the Volvo emblem is bigger on the new honeycomb grille.

There are also cosmetic changes to the bumpers, new headlights and some new exterior colours, including the dramatic "Orange Flame" metallic of this test car which drew approving looks and attention everywhere it went. The R-Design adds raunchy 17-inch Cratus alloy wheels that not only look great, but the five-spoke design is easy to clean, plus front and rear spoilers, side skirts and chrome-plated 90mm sports tailpipes.

Inside, there are new trim colours and surfaces such as the aluminium in the test car, but also an "Oyster Burst Deco" texture in the centre stack and door panel inlays which Volvo claims replicates Swedish Hagstrom guitars made famous by performers such as Elvis Presley, Frank Zappa and Jimi Hendrix. There are also R-Design emblems embossed into the front seats, a leather-rim steering wheel, leather/aluminium gearshift knob, aluminium sports pedals and blue speedometer and tachometer.

The floating centre stack echoes throughout the Volvo range and is designed to be a cross between a Nokia mobile phone and a Bang & Olufsen remote control. It works well visually and functionally, except for the fact that in the manual you keep hitting the buttons with your hand when you change into third or fifth gear.

SAFETY

It's a Volvo, so it's packed with safe kit such as emergency brake lights which are standard right across the range. These activate over 60km/h flashing the stop lights five times a second if the brakes are applied forcefully in an emergency. When the vehicle slows to 10km/h, the stoplights stop flashing and the hazard lights come on.

It also has stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes, electronic brake distribution, dual front and side airbags plus full-length curtain airbags, a whiplash protection system for front-seat passengers and a side impact protection system.

DRIVING

While 169kW of power is not extreme, it must be remembered that this car weighs less than 1.5 tonne. So that power-to-weight ratio, together with almost no turbo lag, is quite effective in propelling the vehicle along smartly.

Unfortunately, there is also massive torque steer that pulls and yanks the steering wheel from side to side.

Volvo claims the T5 R-design should return fuel economy of 8.7L/100km for the manual. Over a week of driving on city roads and highways, it yielded 9.1L/100km which isn't far off the mark. All the same, Volvo has increased the tank by 10 litres to 62 to give an effective range of more than 650km.

The faster-ratio electro-hydraulic steering feels great with just the right amount of sensitivity and feedback. It works brilliantly with the 30 per cent stiffer springs, firmer monotube dampers and stiffer stabiliser bars to improve change of direction and nimbleness. Fortunately, the ride is still reasonably compliant for a sporty car.

The cabin is a pleasant and comfortable place to conduct the business of driving, although the rear two seats are a little cramped and difficult to access. Surprisingly the small cargo area works well and if you only have two on board you can fit a large amount of gear with the seats folded flat.

VERDICT

Love the styling and the driving is dynamic without being edgy and uncomfortable. However it is hard to go past the DRIVe diesel which is such great value while still being a dynamic city car.

VOLVO C30 T5 R-DESIGN

Price: $47,150 ($48,650 auto)

Engine: 5-cylinder, 20-valve, DOHC 2521cc turbo

Power: 169kW @ 5000rpm

Torque: 320Nm from 1500-5000rpm

Transmission: 6-speed manual (5-speed auto), FWD

Acceleration: 0-100km/h in 7.1secs

Economy: 8.7L/100km (9.4 auto)

CO2: 208g/km (224 auto)

Fuel: 91-98RON, 62-litre tank

Steering: electro-hydraulic

Suspension: coilover strut (front); multi-link independent (rear)

Brakes: ventilated discs (front), solid discs (rear)

Safety: ABS, electronic brake distribution, stability and traction control

Dimensions (mm): 4266 (l), 2039, (w), 1447 (h), 2640 (wheelbase)

Turning circle: 10.6m

Kerb weight: 1469kg

source: carsguide.com.au