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Volvo C30 Design Concept Very Near Production

Volvo’s star at the 2006 North American International Auto Show in Detroit was the C30 Design Concept. There will only be minor changes between the C30 Design Concept and the 2007 C30 that arrives in Volvo showrooms late in 2006. VehicleVoice ( and AutoPacific ( correspondents were on hand for the unveiling of the agressive new small Volvo at Detroit.
A Lifestyle Vehicle for the City
The C30 gives Volvo an entry to compete with the Audi A3 (introduced in 2005 in the USA) and, in Europe, the BMW 1-Series. This small, three-door coupe targets young urbanites, single or couples, but without children. Featuring the floating center console of the S40, the interior is geared for people who rarely have more than one passenger along with them, though there is seating for four. The rear liftgate allows easy access to the cargo area for daily gear, like gym bags and briefcases and laptop computers. The second-row seats fold for those infrequent occasions when C30 owners need to haul something bigger.


Volvo sees C30 owners as urbanites with active lifestyles. In this case, active does not refer to the outdoor- and adventure-oriented lifestyles usually indicated by the term “active lifestyle.” Volvo instead has developed a vehicle that fits well into an urban active life, for people with hectic lives balancing developing careers and busy social lives. They’re looking for attractive cars with entertaining driving characteristics and terrific stereos, and are not quite so concerned with off-pavement driving, trips to Home Depot and sheets of plywood, car seats, or getting to the mountains in the middle of a blizzard. Given, too, the rising concern with fuel costs and smaller cars allegedly becoming more hip than SUVs, the C30 could be arriving at just the right time.

The C30 Design Concept’s dimensions are very close to the production car, and it is about nine inches shorter than the Volvo S40 and just a touch wider. The Volvo Safety Concept Car a couple of years ago telegraphed the future of Volvo design philosophy, and the C30 is the result. Inspiration is also from Volvo’s classic P1800 ES, including the glass in the liftgate.



As a Volvo, the C30 will offer most or all of the safety features found on the rest of the range. The C30 Design Concept features a 260HP version of Volvo’s 2.4L turbocharged in-line five-cylinder engine, mated to a six-speed manual transmission. Among the changes from now to production will likely be a broader powertrain lineup, drawing from the S40. The C30 concept is front-drive only and the production car may stay that way.
C30 May Be a Winner
At least on paper and in concept form, AutoPacific analysts say Volvo may have a winner here. The C30 offers a striking exterior combined with a typically high-quality Volvo interior and an entertaining powertrain. One of my favorite drives last year was a Volvo V50 T6 AWD, and the C30 has potential to be even more fun to drive and holds the promise of having an equally good Volvo interior. There is a niche here, and Volvo may have just the product and insight to reach it.

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