The Volvo P1800ES is arguably the coolest and most unheralded sports cars from the 1970s. It’s still around and without too much difficulty could be mistaken for the current Volvo C30.
The current version has also been discontinued, which means 40 years from now it will look as hip and the P1800ES, now also in its 40s. Both have the unique-to-the-industry tapering roofline and glass hatchback.
Volvo has always been known for industry-leading safety features. But the Volvo C30, introduced in 2008, is several steps away. It’s a perceived sports car, and it never sold particularly well. The 2013 edition is available in T5 and R-Design trims. Both trims have a five-cylinder engine, with the top-line R-Design equipped with a sport suspension.
The Volvo C30 hasn’t been redesigned since its debut, but it has been updated with swept-back headlights and a more curved bumper.
The Weekly Driver Test Drive
Although it has a turbocharged five-cylinder engine, the Volvo C30’s performance doesn’t match its appearance. While acceleration, steering and stability are satisfactory, the ride is bumpy. The Volvo C30 averages 21/30 mpg city/highway, according to the EPA, and that’s far from the best in its class. The MSRP range is $25,500-$32,850.
The Volvo C30 is well made, modern and has a strong list of standard features for its class, including current tech standards HD Radio, Bluetooth and a USB port. But that’s where the Volvo’s savvy ends. The console function buttons and dials are not easy to see and correspondingly are not simple to use.
New but simultaneously retro-cool exterior.
Small cargo area.
Hasn’t changed much since its 2008 debut.
Unattractive performance wheels.
What Others Say:
“Though it’s been around for a few years, this clever two-door hatch still looks and feels as fresh and modern as the day it was introduced. Maybe it’s because you don’t see many out on the road, but that just means people have been missing out on a good thing.” — Edmunds.com
“It might not be as Teutonically-sophisticated as the GTI, but we had an absolute blast bombing around in our little white test car during our evaluation.” — Left Lane News.
“Overall, the C30 is livable but not practical. It’s sporty, but not a high-performance sports car.” — Cars.com
“It’s not utilitarian, it’s not super-fast and it sure isn’t cheap.” — Cars.com.
The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:
“My family owned a Volvo sedan in the 1970s, and it was strong, sturdy and safe. So it’s always been easy to appreciate the Swedish machines since I drove our family car from Los Angeles to San Francisco as a 17-year-old kid with a new license.”
“Still while the Volvo C30 is cool to look at, it hasn’t held up as better options have come to the forefront like the Audi A3 and Volkswagen GTI.”