Future Classic: 2008-2013 Volvo C30

Future Classic: 2008-2013 Volvo C30

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Volvo has a storied reputation of building cars that are safe and solid – vehicles that are as cherished for their function-over-form designs as they are their mechanical longevity. But Volvo is also low-key cool. The Swedish carmaker is beloved by enthusiasts for its commitment to offering wagons, and for its many motorsports efforts. Flying brick, anyone?

That coolness doesn’t always trickle down to Volvo’s road cars, but every now and then, the company gives us something a little weird. And in the mid-2000s, Volvo introduced the C30: a two-door hatchback geared towards younger, hipper buyers.


Was the C30 a luxury compact? A hot hatch? Nah, it didn’t really fit either vibe. Still, the C30 was nevertheless cute and quirky, and compared to other Volvos of the era, it was truly one of a kind.

Why is the Volvo C30 a future classic?

The C30 rode on the same platform as the S40 sedan and V50 wagon (as well as the contemporary Mazda 3 and Europe’s second-generation Ford Focus), but had way more personality than both. Volvo’s hallmark tall taillights flanked a huge piece of glass that extended from the roofline to the bumper, serving as the C30’s hatch. Of course, this expansive window also meant the items in the cargo area were readily on display, making them an easy target for smash-and-grab thefts.

A range of powertrains were available around the world, including diesel engines and even a super-limited-production electric variant. In the U.S., however, we only got the T5 gas engine, which in its standard form produced a 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-5 with 227 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque (more on the not-so-standard form later). You could get a six-speed manual transmission, which wasn’t a terribly engaging gearbox, but was still more fun than the five-speed automatic.

With the C30, Volvo put an emphasis on the hatchback’s ability to pump up the jams. An optional Premium Sound package had 10 Dynaudio speakers, an Alpine subwoofer and Dolby Pro Logic II surround. This setup could even play CDs with MP3 and WMA files, and included an AUX jack for things like iPods. Archaic technology by today's standards, but in the 2000s, this was clutch.