Volvo C30, 2008: Bill Belew's Car Buzz

James Raia

Volvo C30, 2008: Bill Belew's Car Buzz 1I first saw a Volvo up close when I spent a year one winter in Buffalo, NY. A Volvo sedan in front of a dealer was completely mangled. Smushed. Ready for the scrap heap. There was a sign next to it, “The Driver Walked Away From This Crash Without A Scratch.”

So, the first thing I wanted to do when I recently got in the 2008 Volvo 2 Door Hatchback C30, was roll it down a hill, it into a paper wad, err,metal wad, make it look like mashed potatoes, a pile of corn cobs and see if I could live through it.

A friend here in San Jose, Calif. rolled his Volvo. It just made him dizzy. The car was shot, but my friend is still alive.

Safe indeed. So safe, the Rollover Protection System (ROPS) kept righting me whenever I tried to do wrong. The extra high strength hydro frame meant safe and heavy. I parked perpendicular to a curb on a 20-degree incline in San Francisco and my petite wife couldn’t open the door facing up the hill because it was too heavy. She was afraid to open it downhill for fear the door would smack its neighbor and start a row of cars tumbling down the incline like dominoes.

Volvo C30, 2008: Bill Belew's Car Buzz 2

I like safe. My wife and I have a new daughter, Mia Mei, to watch out for. She traveled with us from time to time so I could also get feedback from her “Ouch! Waa!” were her comments. I had to deliver her through the hatchback and over the back seats in order to get her into the baby car seat. Too often, I bounced her head off the head protection system. The car needs something to guard child from dad. Still, Mia’s SUV-sized baby stroller fit snugly behind the back seat under the hatch.

I am not a little man. Six feet-plus and on the wrong side of 200 pounds. Okay, wrong side of 210 pounds. I couldn’t get my hands around the steering wheel. My hands can span 11 keys on a piano, but cannot reach around the steering wheel. Good-looking grip, for sure. But on cold mornings, a child could stick their tongue on it. On hot afternoons, it could heat coffee.

Speed? I am used to stepping on the gas and having the car respond by saying, “You talking to me? You want to make a reservation for when to go faster?” This 2.5-liter, 5-cylinder all-aluminum had no problems taking orders. A spiffy-looking red car came up on my rear (my wife said it looked like someone sat on it) and tried to pass me on my right side. A half-second later and I could see the car was far enough in my rear view mirror that it didn’t objects in the mirror may be closer than they appear.

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The front seats have weight sensors for multistage airbags. Mac users will be happy to know their desktops, you know the kind that looks like ET with a flat-screen face, are heavy enough to be protected in an accident.

A trunk is not necessary. The glove box is deep enough to hold a snowboard and a pair of skis and maybe a couple fishing poles. I think you might be able to reach the oil dipstick through it. My wife thought the baby could fit.

The MSRP sticker price on the car I drove is $28,605 (destination charges not included). The EPA estimates are 19 mpg in the city, 27 mpg on the highway.  The estimated fuel costs for a 15,000-mile year are $2,048 at $2.80/gallon. (The manufacturer’s price-per-gallon cost estimate almost made me roll over laughing and take the car with me thus fulfilling my initial wish.)

The first friend I showed the car to remarked, “This doesn’t look like a Volvo.” It’s sharp, snazzy, sporty, good-looking. I wish she had been talking about me. There’s also a 48-month/50-mile warranty — on the car, not me.

Article Last Updated: June 5, 2008.

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