I expect most CC readers are familiar with the Volvo C30, which was more than ‘just’ a cut-down S40 sedan because Volvo dug into their heritage to produce some characterful styling and the all-glass tailgate that drew heavily on the 1800ES and 480ES. Most enthusiasts would have paid attention to the T5 R-Design versions, this DRIVe version (not a typo) is as interesting.
The C30 was previewed by the very Volvo-sounding Safety Concept Car at the 2001 Detroit auto show, which was memorable for having a ‘lattice’ A-pillar with Plexiglas panels for improved visibility. I wonder what compromises were required for this arrangement; in any case while it got the desired media attention, the production C30 would be conventional in this regard. The car prioritised style over practicality with the tapering roofline that reduced cargo volume to just 233 L (8.2 cu ft) and meant the rear seat was only suitable for two.
After launching in Australia with Volvo’s 5-cylinder engine in standard, turbocharged and diesel versions, the 2010 facelifted model would see Volvo join the ranks of “eco-cars” that were becoming popular with the DRIVe (a similar ‘Efficiency’ version was sold in Europe from the C30’s debut). This included a stop/start system, smart charging of the battery, optimised gear ratios, aerodynamic body pieces, aerodynamic alloy wheels, low rolling resistance tyres
The 1.6L turbodiesel engine was combined solely with a manual transmission and produced 84 kW (112 bhp) at 4000 rpm and 270 Nm (202 lb-ft) from 1750 rpm, which was regarded as just adequate (0-100 km/h in 11.3 secs) but did achieve a combined fuel economy rating of 3.8 L/100km (61.9 mpUSg) and saw the grams of CO2 per kilometre figure limbo under the magical 100 barrier at 99. This was better than even a 3rd-gen 2010 Prius, thanks to the remarkable 3.3 L/100km (71.3 mpUSg) highway fuel economy, but not as good on the carbon dioxide front.
However this type of car has not sold too well in the Australian market, eg Ford dropped the Econetic version of the Fiesta after three years on the market and Volkswagen the Golf Bluemotion after two. When a total of just 2900 C30’s were sold in Australia, the DRIVe has to exist in very small numbers. Nevertheless, it may be just the car that someone will be looking for and I would assume that a lot of owners will be hanging onto their unique machines.
I will be doing regular posts in the coming weeks of the less-common car sightings I have been finding.