Tuesday, November 9, 2010


On test… Volvo C30 T5 R-Design

Let's play the word-association game.

I say “Volvo”. You say......“safety!” Of course you did. It’s practically involuntary. And given their history of innovations in automotive safety, hardly surprising too. For decades now, Swedes in white lab coats have been beavering away inventing stuff like three-point safety belts and side-curtain airbags, not to mention providing long-term job security for a legion of crash-test dummies.

These days though, someone has clearly been adding a little Absolut the morning coffee. In a very un-Volvo frame of mind, Olav and his mates have thrown caution to the wind and created a genuine hot hatch. The car in question is part of Volvo’s new face-lifted C30 range of which the T5 R-Design heads up these svelte lookers. It’s not often a mid-life nip ‘n tuck alters a car as much as what’s been achieved with the C30. Thanks mainly to a re-profiled front end, the entire C30 range has been transformed from a pretty car into a far more macho beast. What before was a Cool In The City run around for young urban women, now looks a lot more like a street racer for the blokes.

Especially when you add the R-design body kit package. Lowered side sills, a rear spoiler, a lower front chin and racy 5-spoke, 19 inch alloys push the boat out even further, deep into “I kick yøur böttom at da røbot” territory.

The car has the chops to back all this up as well. The T5 still has the 5-pot turbo motor shared with the Ford Focus ST, and in the Volvo it pushes out 169Kw with 320Nm of torque. Forced induction is the vogue these days and as with most new-gen turbo engines, the T5’s is a wonderfully versatile motor that will provide sufficient low-down torque to go along with the impressive top end. It’s no deep throated V8, but there’s also something special about that high-pitched turbo whine – especially when exercising one’s rev limiter rights up and down the 6-speed manual gearbox.

What you’re going to like the most is the way this baby handles. Volvo have done a Volvo and basically created a car that feels taut and sharp, yet without the ability to bite you on the arse should you over cook it. Thanks to the R-Design’s tweaked “sports chassis” you can take it to the limit where, in a calm Scandi accent, the chassis’ feedback will then tell you to take it easy… unless of course you’re wearing a dark-visored, white, full-face crash helmet and are rumoured to carry an emergency koeksister in your cubby hole. Then it says nothing. Price: R335 600.