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LA Auto Show – 2008 Volvo C30

A New Volvo In Search of a New Demographic
Volvo has sculpted a 3-door, 4-seat hatchback aimed at interrupting GenY’s traditional perceptions of a Volvo. Will it capture the hearts, minds, and pocketbooks of a demographic beyond Volvo’s traditional customers? …only time will tell.


Engineers and designers at Volvo have taken Ford’s C1 platform (used for the European Ford Focus in early 2004 and currently used by the Mazda3, Mazda5, Volvo C70 Coupe/Convertible) and built a hip hatchback with some urban flair. Already being sold in the U.K., the C30 is also destined for the U.S. market with a date set for summer 2007. Even though 75% of the 65,000 Volvo C30’s produced annually are destined for Europe, thousands will be shipped to the United States. Whether it was the success of the MINI Cooper or Volvo’s wish to tap into a younger demographic, they have decided to focus on a new segment. According to Fredrik Arp – President and CEO of Volvo Car Corporation, the new C30 “is a car that aims for a group of young singles, or couples, with intense urban lifestyles”.


Exterior Styling
The C30’s exterior styling expands on Volvo’s break from boxy in the hopes of attracting those younger consumers. The C30’s exterior keeps with some of Volvo’s contemporary styling cues including the front fascia (grill, headlights, etc.) distinctive Volvo tail lamps and a confident stance – accentuated by the broad shoulders that have become a Volvo hallmark. A break from tradition may come with the relatively large, frameless glass rear hatch that not only improves the driver’s visibility but also helps perpetuate the sloping roofline giving the C30 a sporty silhouette. Adding to the C30’s long list of options, two distinctively different spoilers are available to enhance the sportiness and break up the downward slope at the upper edge of the glass hatch.

Interior Perks
On the interior Volvo has removed the traditional rear bench seat and replaced it with two bucket seats positioned slightly inboard allowing for some generous head, shoulder and leg room (although rear passengers should watch driver and front passenger seatbelts on ingress/egress). A ‘floating’ center stack (similar to S40/V50/C70) with simple, straightforward controls cascades into the center console and compliments small but useful storage spaces. We can’t leave the center stack however without mentioning the standard 160-watt stereo system or the prospective buyers choice of a 650-watt Premium Sound system that comes with a digital 5X130W ICE Power amplifier from Alpine®, with Dolby ® Pro Logic II Surround sound, and 10 speakers. It makes me wonder if they would throw in a guitar a la Volkswagen’s promo?

Legendary Safety
We can’t really get away from talking about Volvos without speaking to their legendary safety features, and in the C30 they are well represented. The front end of the C30 incorporates the same structure as the S40 and V50, while the interior supplies airbags, safety belt pretensioners, a Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS), and a side Impact Protection System (side airbags and Inflatable Curtain). The C30 is also available with BLIS (Blind Spot Information System), which will help the driver identify another vehicle in the blind spot at the rear sides of the car.
Hitting the Target
Whether equipped with front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive, the rumored lackluster handling of the C30 may not scream ‘sport coupe’ but it may not have to. With a hip image and a 218 horsepower turbocharged Inline-5 (no Diesels are planned for the US market – yet), along with the C30’s pledge of versatility and utility in a small package, it might be the right entry level Volvo in a segment with very little competition… The only hesitation comes from years of hatchbacks not necessarily being big hits in the U.S. market (AMC’s Pacer?). Whether the C30 has the distinction of targeting enough young singles and couples with ‘intense’ urban lifestyles (or even ‘empty nesters’?) to be a success, only time will tell.

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