If you want to be different, check out a C30.
While we're impressed with Volvo's current lineup, there is one model from the Swedish automaker's past that we miss - the C30. Sold in the United States from 2007 to 2013, it was one of the most interesting hatchbacks you could buy at the time. The looks were a bit polarizing (we happen to love them) and were meant to harken back to the original P1800. Even though the sort-lived C30 has been forgotten by most enthusiasts, we wanted to bring it up again because it is now very affordable on the used market.
In the US, the C30 was only offered with one engine, a 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder producing 217-227 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque. All of that oomph was routed to the front wheels through either a five-speed automaker or six-speed manual. Unlike many of today's hatchbacks, the C30 was legitimately small and tossible, though it was a bit heavy with a curb weight of around 3,200 pounds.
Depending on the transmission, the C30 could hit 60 mph in the mid to low six-second range and complete the quarter-mile in around 15.2 seconds. From 2011 to 2013, Volvo also sold a Polestar performance tune for $1,295, which upped the output to 250 hp. Separate from the Polestar tuning software, the C30 was also offered as a Polestar Limited Edition trim which increased torque to 273 lb-ft, though only 250 were sold in the US in 2013 - good luck finding one. All of the Polestar special editions were painted Rebel Blue, so they are easy to spot.
Volvo also had plans to build an insane all-wheel-drive Polestar version of the car, tuned to produce 456 hp, but unfortunately, the concept was never put into production.
For a premium vehicle, the C30 was relatively affordable when it was new. Back in 2013, the C30 retailed for around $25,000 to $33,000 depending on options. Now, the pre-facelifted models can be found starting at just $5,000 with high mileage while the later, low-mileage examples can still be found for less than $20,000. We prefer the looks of the pre-facelifted model, though the new examples are easier to find with low mileage.
Of course, we should mention how this is an aging luxury car that is past its manufacturer warranty, so be warned that repairs won't come cheap. An aftermarket warranty may help and we highly suggest requesting to have a third party shop inspect the car before you sign the papers.
True to most cars built before 2010, the technology in the C30 will feel old compared to a new car. You won't find a highly responsive touchscreen, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, or advanced driver aids like adaptive cruise control. What you will find is a well-designed interior with decent materials and a unique Swedish layout.
Most C30s will have a simple monochrome screen to display the radio and climate controls, though Volvo did offer navigation, which was housed on a pop-up display on the dashboard. We don't recommend finding one with the navigation unit because it was notoriously difficult to use and even required a separate remote control - who in Sweden thought that was a good idea?
The C30 is strictly a four-seater, though even that is a bit of a stretch, The back seat is tiny, so if you need to carry rear seat passengers frequently this may not be the right hatchback for you. We suggest folding down the rear seats and Think of the C30 as a 2+2 coupe with rear seats for occasional use only. Trunk space with the rear seats up is a meager 15.3 cubic feet but increases to an acceptable 33.4 cubic feet when folded down.
Although the C30 will require premium gas, it won't kill you at the pump. The EPA rated the C30 at 21/30 mpg city/highway, which is not bad for a car with 227 hp. It may not be as efficient as a modern hatchback but let's see you find a brand-new car for this price, especially one from a premium brand.
The Volvo C30 may not be as practical as a Volkswagen Golf GTI but it is far more unique. In a world filled with cars, some people just like to stand out. If you are looking to buy a C30, we suggest finding one of the sportier R Spec models, unless you can track down one of the 250 Polestar Special Editions - in which case, send us an email and tell us about it. Expect to spend around $12,000 to $15,000, budget a few thousand for repairs, and prepare for people at car shows to tell you "oh yeah, I remember that car. It was cool."