The Volvo gets cool

Kaprun, Austria, and it’s 10 degrees at village level. We, however, are considerably higher than the village. At 3,700 metres, at the very top of the cable car lifts, to be precise. To climb higher involves skidoos, for which we are waiting.

It seems odd being here, standing with bags and laptops, looking incongruous against the last of the day’s skiers and boarders, schussing past us as they head down off the mountain to get in their cars and go home.

I’d love to be able to tell you that we drove up here in our all-terrain cars, but I can’t. But we did drive through the snow and ice from Munich airport and all made it without any problems.

Volvo wants to be thought of as a fun, sporty brand, known for producing more dynamic models rather than sensible family estate cars. Sadly for them, though, Volvos are known for their comfort and safety. But the C30
SportsCoupe is not about family transport, it’s a two-door hatchback that wants to be both a city car and an all-action weekend car.

There are four individual seats in the C30, and plenty of glass to increase the feeling of space, including a glass tailgate, which also helps visibility when parking. Volvo also provides an optional Sports chassis for £400, 10mm lower, with stiffer suspension that gives you a more dynamically active car.

There’s a 1.6 in both petrol and diesel, the latter offering DRIVe low emission motoring, right up to the range-topping 2.4 petrol injection T5. There is the 2.0D with 136bhp, an engine that offers more than decent torque from low revs matched with a six-speed manual gearbox. A Powershift automatic option is available too.

So there’s good power, and increased feedback for the driver through the steering and chassis dynamics. One design note, though: the steering wheel seems too large for the car. Making it smaller would add to the sporty feel.

The C30 rides nicely and manages to keep road noise out very well. Because of the tapered roofline, six-footers would struggle in the rear, but there’s good comfort for the less-vertically challenged and plenty of width too. On the down side, boot space is insufficient due to the roof shape. It’s also shallow and the tailgate opening needs to be wider in order to get some sports equipment in. That said, the rear seats fold flat so once your snowboard is in it’s fine.

Would I have one? Well, I did, I ran a C30 T5 for six months in 2007 and enjoyed it. Everything went in it, boats were towed, wet dogs were carried, miles were munched and it did what was asked of it without any trouble.

I had no mechanical complaints either. There was a lot of refuelling, but this 2.0 diesel offers much better miles per gallon than the range-topping petrol did three years ago, and that has since improved too. But most of all I’m drawn to it because it’s different. If in 10 years’ time Volvo can muster all their experience and produce a genuinely good hot hatch to compete with the likes of Audi’s S3, what a great result that would be.