Volvo C30 2.0D SE

ENTERING the strange world of retro can be a minefield for car manufacturers.

We have seen some modern retro-influenced designs that really worked such as the new MINI and the late-lamented Rover 75 and some that could have done better such as the new VW Beetle and the Jaguar S-Type.

But one manufacturer that waved the retro stick over a coupe design with a high degree of subtlety is Volvo with its C30 Sports Coupe.

The C30 is the modern successor to the great Volvo P1800 of the 1960s made famous as the car of the fictional detective Simon Templar, otherwise known as The Saint .

The P1800 was a hard act to follow and was a style icon of its day.

So the modern sports coupe from this Swedish manufacturer had to salute its predecessor in a special way and the design team concentrated on recreating a glass rear hatch which was reminiscent of the classic P1800 ES estate model of 1970. The front end of the C30 looks very modern but the further back along the car you look the more of the P1800 ES you see,

The result was treated with some mixed reactions when it came to the UK but it has now really taken off and is playing a vital role in the rising sales figures of Volvo. Volvo achieved a 90 per cent sales rise in Britain in February over the same period last year.

An added accolade is that a performance specialist is creating a 400PS high-speed concept of this model,

The P1800 was a glorious handful of a car that could easily attain 100mph but had an classy elegance all of its own which few cars of its time could emulate.

Its modern version, the C30 does the same and a lot more. This car was a powerful 2.0 diesel SE model which was packed with a number of options including sat nav, a powered driver's seat, lowered sports suspension and a high-performance audio system which bumped the basic price of £18,610 up to £23,060.

Quite a difference to the P1800's price of £1,948 quoted at the Earls Court Motor Show of 1962, and a hefty ascent from the C30 range's lead-in price of £14,495.

But you do get a lot for the money. The 2.0-litre diesel, allied to the more upmarket SE specification brings a much more premium feel to this car. It can attain 127mph in manual gearbox form and zoom to 60mph in 8.8 seconds while attaining a combined mpg figure of 49.6mpg.

But the lowered sports suspension allied to the already excellent steering make it very plain that the new VW Scirocco has not got it all its own way in the sports coupe stakes.

Top marks go to the astonishing simplicity of the controls, many of which are housed in a clever backless 'flying buttress' between the transmission hump and the facia. The C30 now has a proper solid luggage cover and not the floppy sheet of other earlier versions I have tried.

The C30 is available in four trim levels S, SE, SE Lux and R-DESIGN and will have the choice of six engines including the 99g/km CO2-emitting 1.6D 109ps DRIVe with Start/Stop right up to the turbocharged T5 producing 230ps.



Volvo C30 2.0D SE


Mechanical: 136bhp, 1,997cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 127mph

0-62mph: 8.8 seconds

Combined MPG: 49.6

Insurance Group:7

C02 emissions: 151g/km

Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles


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