Archive for volvo c30

Volvo C30 – 2006-2012

Posted in Desirable machines, News, Rust in peace with tags , , , on 17/10/2012 by Alexander

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.


A question of coupés (1)

Posted in Car conception, Crap cars, Desirable machines, General opinions with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 26/01/2011 by Alexander

I’ve been itching to write an entry on coupés for yonks, but I had to make a caveat first. So much so, that this single entry is dedicated to just that: what defines a car as a coupé?

Now, the origins of the term as applied to road vehicles is ancient, dating from horse-drawn carriages, and, like so many other terms (like driving, dashboard and chassis), as you can see for yourselves in the Wikipedia article. But what I’m interested in here is how the term is applied to modern cars, and how I’ll apply the term in this here blog.

To start off, there are certain cars that are called coupé, but actually aren’t really.

  • Two-door hatchbacks (e.g., Fiat Puntos and Audi A3s) – The term ‘two-door hatchback’ says it all. Just because certain greasy-haired thugs like to drive around in them far too fast than they think they can handle and have words like “Sport” and  “GTi” glued onto the back,  that doesn’t confer them the necessary style they need to be considered more than quick city cars.
  • VW Scirocco – Let’s be honest, it’s more of a stunted van than anything else. If anything, I’d say it’s more than the above two-door hatchback designation than a proper coupé.
  • Volvo C30 – Yes, it has a lot of style and is derived from a four-door saloon (S40), but again, it’s closer to the above examples.
  • Porsches, Ferraris and other cars of high-performance ilk – A coupé is all about style and beauty. If what’s under the bonnet and how fast does it go around the Nurburgring is more important than this, it’s a sports car or supercar or whatever.
  • Aston Martins – A grey area. They’re equipped with powerful V8s and V12s, and are meant to go very fast. But they’re not as sharp around tracks as most of their big-engined brethren, and ooze style from every metaphorical pore. Tough one.
  • Japanese sports cars – Take the Mazda MX-6 or the second-generation Nissan 200SX. Or the Datsun Z, for that matter. Are they sports cars or just sport style? Like the Astons, a grey area.  But I’d nudge them towards the sports car section.
  • “Faux-coupés” – I made this term up myself. Just now. With this term, I mean utter automotive crap like the Ford Puma, the Opel/Vauxhall Tigra or the awful Toyota Paseo. No style and no substance.

Coupés are, very basically, style-mobiles. They’re meant to cruise along and make heads turn. It doesn’t matter what’s propelling it, whether it’s a V6 or a 1.6-litre diesel, it’s what  beholders behold that counts. It’s the type of car the driver will slow down to look at him/herself when passing by shop windows, and does it very often for a long time. Having one is like being married to an extremely hot woman. You’ll forgive all the flaws and setbacks every time you just gaze upon the splendour of their looks.

Usually they’re based on a saloon model, and are just prettier, two-door versions of the same car. And the insanity of the thing is that they’re usually more expensive and less practical than their four-door counterparts, yet people still want them. Why? Because, as I’ve tried to press home in the previous paragraph, they look so good. Ask someone and they’ll probably deny it, but driving a good-looking car is incomparable, and I’d venture to say anyone would agree it beats driving a faster yet uglier car.

So that clears that up. Next time I can get on with it and write about specific coupés.

Zonda what?

Posted in Desirable machines, Upcoming cars with tags , , , , , , , , , on 22/02/2010 by Alexander

For some strange coincidence, I like cars with a “C”. My favourite is the Citroen C6, and in the only times I’ve wavered in my conviction for my S60, it’s been considering a Volvo C30, or a Citroen C3 Pluriel or a Citroen C4. And the Passat CC is a definite fave of mine, right along with all the others I’ve just mentioned.

So I was doing my round of car blogs, when this cropped up. As a rule, I’m not one to glance twice at a so-called supercar. Ferrari and Lamborghini can spew out any overpriced death-trap and I couldn’t car less, because it’s all about many-hundred horsepower, and race technology and utter twaddle like that. I’m flying in the face of popular opinion here, but to me nearly all of those exaggeratedly priced exotica look all pretty bland and similar amongst themselves.

So along comes this upstart Italian company, led by a bloke called Pagani, and makes the outrageous Zonda. So it has a big Mercedes V12 in the middle and chucks out some hundred horsepower and bla-bla-bla, but what really catches the attention of the beholder is how crazily different and outstanding it looks amongst its supercar bretheren. Perhaps the only car that springs to mind for its outlandish bold aesthetics is the Lamborghini Reventon, which looks far more like a stealth fighter than it does a car. However, even the Zonda feels the weight of years, and ten of them for a car is by all mean a long career. So a new one is in the works, and it’s pictured here. And talking about outlandish aesthetics, this is a fabulous-looking vehicle, and not just in supercar terms, it’s fabulous-looking in any car terms. That front end is wonderfully curved, and strikes just the right balance. The berlinetta shape has to be a consequence of the cockpit-forward, mid-engined layout, but looks sumptious, not to mention rare, in a day when most cars strive for a coupé-look even if they are mid-engined.

And the whole effect is heightened by the colour and those gill-like things, which make it look like a nippy Batmobile. That’s what makes this car stand out, it’s crazy, quirky, head-turning aspect. It could be powered by a two-stroke engine for all I care, it’s the leap forward in downright beauty that makes it a desirable car for me. The Zonda isn’t bad-looking, but falls into the category of supercars that have a hard-to-swallow shape that comes more from a preoccupation of aerodynamics than the intention of looking great. And what’s the point of it going fast, if it’ll break into bits as soon as it hits 200mph?

Of course, it’s all very nice, but if the Zonda is anything to go by, it’ll cost €1,000,000 and only ten will be made each year. A pity, because I’d live to see one of these live in the flesh (or in the metal, as it were), and I suppose the few super-rich customers will keep it under lock and key and only flahs it around in -monte Carlo or Lake Como.