in 2011 Upscale Small Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $15,639 - $17,454
Original MSRP: $24,700 - $27,100
MPG: 21 City / 29 Hwy
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2011 Volvo C30 Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

The 2011 Volvo C30 has enough power to keep pace with class contenders. However, its numb steering, brake and clutch action lead test drivers to report that it’s not nearly as fun to drive as its classmates. Reviewers also complain about its slow-to-react automatic transmission, and advise shoppers to steer clear of the C30 R-Design due to its stiff suspension. Still, buyers who only intend to drive around town will be satisfied with the C30’s performance.

  • "It's comfortable...and 227 hp is a more than respectable number. On the freeway, it's smooth and comfy. For me, though, it is not much fun to drive." -- AutoWeek
  • "The Volvo matches the Mini on interior quirkiness, but it can’t foster the same feeling of man-machine connection that comes from sitting in the GTI or Cooper S." -- Car and Driver
  • "It's a fun car to drive. The Mini Cooper S may be more entertaining on tight roads, but the C30 has a smoother ride and a quieter cabin." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

The C30's engine is a 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-five cylinder that most reviewers agree is powerful enough to meet Volvo's promise of a sporty compact. The C30 offers two transmissions: a six-speed manual and a five-speed automatic. Reviewers criticize the manual transmission for its numb shifter and clutch, and the automatic transmission for its leisurely responses. According to the EPA, the C30 gets up to 21/30 mpg city/highway. 

  • "The turbocharged five-cylinder has strong bottom-end torque, although its actual acceleration times are hampered by the car's somewhat portly curb weight." -- Edmunds
  • “All automatic transmissions hesitate to a degree, but it's really noticeable in the C30. That's a shame, because you can tell the C30 has a good engine, and when it gets going it's a lot of fun, but the C30's automatic spoils the fun more than most." -- Cars.com
  • "In our experience, the C30’s manual, with its rubbery shifter and feedback-free clutch, doesn’t add any driver involvement. The auto at least allows gear selection through its manumatic gate." -- Car and Driver

Handling and Braking

Although the Volvo C30 performs fine in both braking and handling, reviewers criticize the lack of feedback from the steering and brakes. The press also expresses disappointment in the suspension on the R-Design C30 for its stiff setup that jeopardizes ride comfort.

  • "The car's suspension keeps you in touch with the road, but also offers a fair amount of protection from bumps and potholes." -- Edmunds
  • "As you'd expect from a small car with a stiff suspension, you feel the bumps in the road." -- Cars.com
  • "The R-Design’s chassis changes make for a harsh ride at times." -- Car and Driver