Volvo C30 – 2006-2012

Everyone loves to root for the underdog, except when it comes to cars. Ask anyone in the street and they’ll prefer a hugely popular 3-series or C-Class over a less successful, more discrete yet equally competent and reliable non-German alternative. I won’t go into why this is so (it’s badge snobbery, plain and simple), but if it were my money, I’d always, always pick the plucky, unsung outsider over the Teutonic option mass opinion always favours. 5-series, E-Class or A6? Give me a Citroen C6 any day. VW CC or A5 Sportback? Volvo S60 for me, please. A3 or Scirocco? Volvo C30, hands-down.

And it would seem the funky compact Scandinavian has reached the end of the line, as production will be ceasing in December. I’ve always loved the exterior styling, the glass tailgate, the gorgeous minimalist Swedish interior and the range of engines, which ranged from frugal (1.6 litre diesel) to fricking-well fast (the T5!).

But alas, the C30’s production run had issues that hampered its sales performance. First, it was terribly overpriced in its market segment, where it had to contend with the very popular Audi A3 and later, the VW Scirocco. Even though its most sold version, the 1.6 diesel, had a more powerful yet smaller engine than the A3’s 1.9Tdi, the Volvo brand image and a high price drove its main potential customers, i.e., badge conscious young rich brats, into the arms of the four-ringed Golf, I’m sorry, A3. The post-2010 facelifted C30 DRIVe was drastically cheaper than its previous equivalent, but it showed that the C30 could’ve and should’ve been cheaper from the start. Another big factor in the C30’s lack of success was the profound uncertainty that surrounded Volvo’s future when Ford said it wanted to sell off the Swedish brand, and its subsequent sale to Chinese company Geely. It’s hard to sell a certain car when its manufacturer’s viability is in question, as well as being sold to then-unknown foreign owners from a country without much of a reputation for car-manufacturing. Consequently, big chunk of the C30’s production run was during this time of crisis.

I’m very sad to see the C30 go, since it was a car I really wanted to buy back in 2006 when it came out, and if the hiatus between it and the Volvo 480 is indication, will probably mark the last time Volvo will be competing in this segment of the market for a long, long time.

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