Car of the Week: 2008 Volvo C30

No joke: this week’s Car of the Week was very nearly the 1993 Acura NSX. Yes, another car from ’93. Since that would have been the third car in a row of that vintage (and, as a result, the only model year I have ever addressed in the short history of COTW), I decided to put that one off for a while. Unfortunately that left me with no good ideas for what to actually choose instead.

I decided to start asking my Twitter followers for their input throughout the week. As you might expect, the responses I got were somewhat… tongue-in-cheek, to say the least. They included a home made turbine-powered Batmobile and an old Ford Escort in need of “minor” engine work, among others. So, no help there.

Then, at a company gathering on Tuesday evening, one of the other employees was talking to me about her Volvo. Hers is a two-year-old S40 which, since it’s been around for the better part of a decade now, isn’t very novel in and of itself, but it got me thinking. I worked for Volvo in varying capacities for 3 years. Surely I had to have a favorite model from that time in my life, right? Once I started to consider that, it didn’t take me long to come to a conclusion.

This week’s Car of the Week:

2008 Volvo C30


Volvo introduced two cars while I was employed at the VCNA (Volvo Cars of North America) headquarters: the all-new C30 and the completely redesigned XC70. While both were great, capable cars, it was the C30 that really piqued my interest. It was Volvo’s first real attempt to target a more youthful audience and, if the stat sheet was to be believed, it was an encouraging effort.

One of the advantages of working for VCNA is the employee preview program, which allows corporate employees the opportunity to test new cars before they arrive in dealerships. It is a wonderful perk and a great way for Volvo to keep its employees engaged in the company and its products. For me, though, the opportunity to drive the C30 meant a little something more. I was, at the time, in the market to replace my own aging ride and I found it to be an intriguing option.

Indeed, the manual transmission variant that I tested exceeded my expectations. It was fun, it was roomy (without being big) and it was quick — everything I was looking for in a car at that point. Though a better deal on a totally different car fell in to my lap, that C30 managed to do something that nothing else from the brand did: it made me want a new Volvo.

About the Car

The C30 is based on the same Volvo “P1” chassis as the S40, V50 and C70. It was first seen in concept car form in 2001 and , although it wasn’t introduced in the U.S. until 2008, the C30 was available prior to that in Europe (2006) and Canada (2007).  The U.S. model had just one engine: the 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-5, which was available paired with either a 6-speed manual or a 5-speed manumantic transmission.

In the years since, the C30 has received a number of cosmetic changes, but very few mechanical updates. The most significant of these came in 2010 when the 2011 model year was introduced with updated front and rear fascias and a variety of new paint color and interior choices.

Though introduced to compete directly with the Volkswagen GTI, the C30 has not enjoyed quite the success of its competitor. Instead, it has found a niche with buyers who want something a little more unique and don’t mind that the Volvo doesn’t have quite the same history as the VW. The C30, many of its enthusiasts maintain, has more personality and is more interesting to own and operate — more a car than a driving appliance.

Other Resources

Volvo C30 World forums
Wikipedia: Volvo C30 (to be taken with a grain of salt, of course)
My review of the 2011 C30
SwedeSpeed Volvo enthusiast site
IPD — Volvo tuner and parts-maker

Some photos in this article were freely sourced from Google. If you take issue with usage of any image, please contact me and I will remove it.

About Chris Nelson

Chris is a writer and communicator with backgrounds in public relations, communication, political science and automotive technology. He holds an M.A. from Rowan University and a B.A. from Susquehanna University in addition to a certificate in Auto Tech from Lincoln Technical Institute.

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