Premium compact car; Built in Belgium
  • 2-door hatchback
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $6,600 – $25,900*

2008 Volvo C30 Front

2008 Volvo C30 Rear

2008 Volvo C30 Interior

2008 Volvo C30 Profile

  • Acceleration
  • Instruments/controls
  • Front-seat comfort
  • Cargo room
  • Rear-seat entry/exit
  • Rear-seat room

Volvo’s sporty, fun-to-drive entry-level hatchback offers head-turning styling with a modicum of hatchback practicality. Easy to live with, the C30 feels “Euro-premium” overall. The version 2.0/R-Design models’ taut ride may turn off some shoppers. Bargain pricing wasn’t part of the equation for new C30s, especially when options were tacked on. Used-car prices won’t be cheap, either.


Seen first in Europe, the Volvo C30 was a new-for-2008 two-door compact hatchback from the Swedish automaker. Serving as Volvo’s smallest car, the premium C30 it shared basic design with the company’s S40 sedan and V50 wagon. Volvo’s C30 was 8.5 inches shorter than the S40, but not all that much lighter in basic form. Rivals included the Audi A3 hatchback and new BMW 1-Series coupe, as well as Saab’s 9-3.

Version 1.0 and top-line version 2.0 models were available. Both used a 227-horsepower 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder engine driving a six-speed manual transmission or optional five-speed automatic. Standard safety features included antilock brakes, traction control, an antiskid system, front side airbags, and curtain side airbags. Both models had four bucket-style seats.

Version 2.0 added an upgraded sound system, satellite radio, rear spoiler, sport suspension, and 18-inch wheels/tires that replaced Version 1.0’s 17-inchers. Many options were available only as part of the “Volvo

Yearly Updates

2009 C30
Volvo shuffled the C30 lineup for 2009. A new T5 model replaced the initial Version 1.0 trim level, and a T5 R-Design coupe replaced Version 2.0, again with a sport suspension and 18-inch wheels. A new Preferred Package included a power driver’s seat, fog lamps, and upgraded audio. Volvo’s navigation system with real-time traffic information joined the options list.
2010 C30
The 2010 Volvo C30 no longer required customers to purchase a “Custom Build Program” in order to equip this premium compact car with popular optional features.
2011 C30
The 2011 Volvo C30 got freshened exterior and interior styling.
2012 C30
Minor option-package revisions were the only change of note to the 2012 Volvo C30.
2013 C30
The 2013 Volvo C30 received standard rain-sensing windshield wipers and headlamp washers. There were also some additional option packages on offer, and two new paint colors. The engine now used synthetic motor oil and had longer service intervals.


transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

All C30 hatchbacks have a turbocharged 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder engine producing 227 horsepower mated to either a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission.

Turbocharged dohc I5
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.5/154
Engine HP 227
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 236
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
5-speed automatic

Road Test

An automatic-transmission C30 is peppy in all situations, with smooth, crisp shifts and little turbo lag. With manual shift, the C30 is eager to rev, providing good throttle response and satisfying strength at midrange speeds.

Fuel economy is reasonably satisfying for a small hatchback of this caliber. C30s with automatic averaged 18.6 mpg in mostly city driving, and 26.3 mpg with mostly highway use. A manual-shift C30 averaged 25.9 mpg with slightly more highway driving than city use. C30s use regular-grade fuel.

Ride comfort isn’t a strong point, at least for upper models. Version 2.0’s stiff sport suspension and 18-inch tires make for an always-firm ride that becomes borderline harsh, with abrupt vertical motions over sharp bumps. Its successor, the R-Design coupe, delivers a similar experience.

Expect good grip and balance overall, though fast turns can induce minor noseplow. Precise steering is a virtue, though some testers have found it a bit vague on-center, though it provides positive feedback. Brakes are strong and responsive.

Volvo’s engine is nicely subdued at cruise, though acceleration brings a gruff growl and minor turbo whistle-especially above 4000 rpm or so. Wind noise is noticeable, though hardly bothersome even at highway speeds. Plenty of road/suspension noise is evident at any speed.

Gauges are large and legible. Controls are simple and well-marked, though some testers complained of too many look-alike controls, which can be hard to locate at a glance. The C30 cabin feels upscale, with well-assembled, high-quality materials and fine control movement. Shoppers in warm climates should probably avoid the optional metal trim for the steering wheel and shift knob, as they get quite hot on sunny days.

Front seats provide ample headroom and legroom. Seats are firm yet comfortable and nicely bolstered for spirited cornering. Every C30 has a tilt/telescopic steering column, which helps tailor a good driving position.

Rear-seat headroom is only adequate for passengers under 5 feet 6 inches. Legroom is cramped if front seats are more than halfway back, and entry/exit requires contortions.

Cargo space is minimal, even by small hatchback standards. Rear seatbacks fold easily, though the load floor isn’t flat and the rear hatch opening is tight and oddly shaped. Some testers disliked the C30’s all-glass hatch, which leaves cargo plainly visible from the outside-and no cargo cover has been available. Small-items storage space is subpar, too.


Model Tested: 2008 Volvo C30 w/automatic

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 7
Fuel Economy - 5
Ride Quality - 4
Steering/Handling - 7
Quietness - 5


Controls/Materials - 7
Room/Comfort Front - 7
Room/Comfort Rear - 3
Cargo Room - 4


Value - 5

Total: 54


2-door hatchback
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
103.9 167.4 70.2 57.0
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
20.2 15.9 4
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.2 37.8 41.6 34.2
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: N/A Not tested. 2-door hatchback


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Front Passenger Injury - N/A

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Keyless entry
Description: The keyless entry remote may quit working in all functions because it loses its synchronization with the rolling code system requiring a new keyless entry unit. (2008-09)
Description: The auto-up window(s) may go only part way then reverse and go back down due to misalignment of the window of lack of lubrication on the window guides. (2007-09)
Description: A metal-on-metal knocking sound from the front end likely caused by damaged lower control arm bushings. (2007-09)
MP3 integration system
Description: The person receiving a call via the onboard Bluetooth system may have trouble hearing the call and revised software corrects the problem with the vehicle. (2009)
MP3 integration system
Description: A “USB Unreadable” message may be displayed on the infotainment screen on some vehicles and this is not a vehicle problem but a compatibility issue between some iPods and the system. (2009-10)
Parking brake
Description: The parking brake may become hard to release as the button can’t be pressed in far enough requiring periodic adjustment. (2008-09)

Recall History

Description: Section of power steering return line hose may not be properly vulcanized (cured), possibly permitting sudden hose rupture and rapid drainage of fluid, resulting in total loss of power assistance.
2010-2011 vehicles equipped with 6-speed manual transmissions
Description: The gearshift lever stud assembly may not have been tightened to the correct specification during assembly. If the gearshift lever cable or stud assembly becomes loose, it may not be possible to engage, disengage or shift gears. This condition can increase the risk of a vehicle crash. Dealers will torque the gearshift lever stud assembly to the correct specification free of charge.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.