in 2012 Upscale Small Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $17,515 - $22,128
Original MSRP: $24,950 - $31,850
MPG: 21 City / 29 Hwy
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2012 Volvo C30 Performance

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

The 2012 Volvo C30 has enough power to keep pace with class contenders, but if you’re looking for an engaging upscale hatchback, the Volvo C30 can’t match the Volkswagen GTI or Mini Cooper S. The C30 is available as an R-Design model, but reviewers suggest steering clear of this trim because its stiff suspension translates to a rough ride.

  • "Engine is nicely subdued at cruise, though acceleration brings a gruff growl and minor turbo whistle, especially above 4,000 rpm." -- Consumer Guide
  • "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
  • "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

Acceleration and Power

The C30's engine is a 2.5-liter 227-horsepower turbocharged five-cylinder that most reviewers agree is satisfying. The C30 offers two transmission choices: a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic.

With either transmission, the Volvo C30 gets relatively good gas mileage. The EPA rates models with the automatic transmission at 21/30 mpg city/highway, while models with the manual transmission average 21/29 mpg. Test drivers say shoppers will be pleased with either transmission choice, but if you’re looking for the driver involvement that comes with a manual transmission, one reviewer doesn’t think it is any more engaging than the automatic.

  • "With the manual transmission, C30 is eager to rev, with good throttle response and satisfying strength at mid-range speeds. With the automatic, C30 is similarly peppy in all situations, with smooth, crisp shifts." -- Consumer Guide
  • "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

Most test drivers say the Volvo C30 performs fine in both braking and handling, but some reviewers criticize the lack of steering feedback and think the brakes are slow to react. The press also expresses great disappointment in the suspension on the R-Design C30 because its stiff setup 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
  • "C30 has good grip and balance overall, though fast turns can induce minor noseplow. Some testers find the steering a bit vague on center, though it has positive turn-in feedback. Brakes are strong and responsive." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Mushy brakes." -- Cars.com
  • "The R-Design’s chassis changes make for a harsh ride at times." -- Car and Driver