Vehicle Reviews

Volvo's C30 D2 Essential

I would assume many would agree with me when I say that Volvo have really over the last few years developed and re-designed its stance within the motoring industry. Some, hopefully very little, may have appreciated the old styling cues on the model lineup offered by Volvo years back with its dated and yet at the same time...dreary appeal which appealed mainly to the aged.

Time has since passed and consumers' needs and wants have advanced Volvo designers to approach the sketching board with a more optimistic and modern design approach and as a result Volvo's offerings are a breath of fresh air...throughout their whole range.

The first time the C30 was revealed was as a concept car at the Detroit motor show in 2005 which was based on the Volvo's 2001 SCC (Safety Concept Car).

The C30 is aimed squarely at the C-segment market which includes the Ford Focus hatch, VW's Golf 7, Honda Civic hatch, Renault Megane hatch and the Toyota Auris name a few.


The C30's silhouette will not appeal to most and is subjective in its entirety. The vehicle sports an aggressive fascia design which incorporates swept back headlight clusters separated by a purposeful chrome lined grill. Large fog light intakes give further purpose to the front fascia of the C30 which as a result lends an aggressive styling cue to the C30's overall character.

Sharp wheel arch overhangs follow through from the headlight cluster straight through to the vehicles backside. The C30's side profile is slightly bland and could have been possibly incorporated some sharp lines which could have linked the front end to the rear. Be that as it may, the vehicle does indeed have its own identity.

Volvo's trademark vertical styling for the rear light clusters, much like Volvo's XC60, is evident and offers some sportiness appeal to the C30. Although at first and second....through to my 50th glance at the rear bonnet window pane cemented between the tail lights, I couldn't grasp the idea of what was going on seemed as if the pieces of the puzzle just did not fall into place. Accepting none the less.

The C30 most certainly looked composed and ready to tackle whatever may come at her. Styling is certainly unlike any other rival within the C-segment but the perceived aggressiveness by which the C30 held, she looked capable and willing to take on any rival.


When speaking of or conversing about the C30 two aspects always sparked to mind, the floating centre console and the boot space, or lack thereof. Will get to this later.

Volvo's interiors have always been adequate to say the least. The C30 shares its front cabin with its S40 sibling which ofcourse incorporates the floating centre console which is layered with a splash of brushed aluminum and stacked with impressively good quality switchgear.

The front seats are a great place to be and this is evident when driving the C30 around bends. The side flanking bolsters keep you in your seat which are comfortable and non intrusive. At 1.71 I found that there was adequate interior space and would be adequate headroom for even the above average bloke or the taller lady. Despite the swooping rear end of the vehicles roofline, the headroom at the rear cabin proved to be equally spacious but legroom was an issue. Some maneuvering was required. The rear cabin prefers to cater for two adults rather than three.

Boot space didn't really let the interior down but it is a hassle to deal with after your local commute to the grocery store or when on semi-long trips to holiday destinations, although this is the case for couples and not for when children are involved.

Standard specifications include Electric Climate Control, power windows, leather upholstery, CD player and an aux input for the MP3 music player.

Suppose the individual buying the C30 is not really buying the vehicle for special reasons but merely for your average daily commute.

The drive

The C30, well in fact mostly all of the Volvo models, host a hoard of safety features to assist the driver. There are a host of airbags willing and able to deploy to save the lives of those in the vehicle. Further safety features include, but not limited to, are the Side Impact Protection Systems, Whiplash Protection System, stability and traction control, anti-locking brakes with Emergency Brake Assist and many more driver and occupant aids.

The D2's drivetrain is powered by a 1.6 diesel engine pushing out 84kw and 270Nm of torque. Although the vehicle is let down by the kw's the engine has more torque than that of its direct rivals and is very pleasing when in high gears. While in the higher end of the given 6 gears, when pressing on the vehicle is responsive due to the torques offered and this then in turn allows for a pleasing drive with sound mind that fuel efficiency is top priority as a result. Although the manufacturers specified fuel consumption is 4.3l/100km, I managed to acquire a pleasing 6.5l/100km.

Cruising around in the D2 was kind of a let down. Considering that the D2 shares the same platform as the Ford Focus, I was expecting a great drive. With the D2's ride height and low centre of gravity in mind as well as the firm suspension I already geared myself into the mind set that the ride was going to be firm but this was not the dread that I became to realize...well, at speeds that is. While at cruising speeds on our national highway, the D2 was capable and comfortable. Turn in is easy with slight body roll. It was at urban speeds where I noticed that the D2 didn't fit in and where the ride was a tad too firm. The D2 felt hesitant when turning corners and didn't offer much confidence when accelerating out of a corner. This may be subjective but taking into account the vehicles that I have driven the D2 was not as competent.

However, despite my subjective undertaking on the Volvo's urban commute, the cabin felt secure and visually appealing, power when pressing on was intent although the D2 does 0-100km/h in a non-impressive 11.3 seconds. But then again what does one expect from a 1.6 litre engine with the aforementioned kw's on offer.

With the D2's design cues, I did feel that I was in a sporty little number although I would never dare to offer the 'race nod' to the vehicle next to me at the set of robots.

Overall, and noting my concerns, I was happy with the drive. If I was purchasing a vehicle for pure driving and handling dynamics, the D2 would unfortunately not be on the list but for your everyday commute it is a comfortable place to be despite the issues raised at urban speeds.

To conclude

I doubt that those purchasing the D2 Essential will be disappointed. These purchasers I doubt will be those boy-racer character types but rather those that enjoy a good quality ride with creature comforts that the D2 offers. Other models in the lineup include the C30 2.0 which comes with a 5 speed manual gearbox and then there is also the C30 T5 R-Design which sports a 2.5 litre turbocharged petrol engine which has a 0-100km/h sprint time of 6.7 seconds. Pricing for the D2 starts at the R261,900.00 mark.