Playing about with an online viewer which allowed me to have a rotatable 360 degree view of Volvo's latest C30 made me think of that old sketch of what is in one orientation an old woman and when viewed the other way up, a beautiful young girl.
Viewed from directly ahead, the C30 looks almost identical to much of the rest of the range of saloons and estates, with its distinctive Volvo grille and elegant lines. However, a quick tweak of the mouse metamorphoses it into something completely different.
Let's not pretend otherwiseÃ¢Â€Â¦ this car is a car for two people, with a facility to allow two extra people to climb into the back once in a while if needs be.
Access to the front seats, however is exceptionally easy and legroom and general airiness is very impressive for a car of this size. One downside is that to achieve this accessibility, the doors have been made very large, which makes them correspondingly heavy. Not a problem if you're on the flat, but try opening them when you're parked facing uphill and it's a different matter entirely. You need muscles like Arnie to be able to swing those doors open when parked like that. Fine if you're a young male whipper-snapper like me, but I bet there's many a Mum or Granny out there who would not fare so well. Additionally, even once Granny has seated herself comfortably, she can't turn around and reach far enough behind her to get at the door pillar where the seat belt buckle lives. If those two aforementioned hitch-hikers were to take up residence in the rear seat it then becomes a bit of a palaver getting the front seat back into its original position again. It proved to be heavy and cumbersome, and not something you'd want to be doing on a regular basis. It is a car for the young at heart and young of body who have the physical resources to be able to handle its challenges.
On the Open Road
But... and this is where the C30 redeems itself, once out on the open road the C30 impresses enormously. It is so comfortably at home when stretching its legs at 70 that the miles are literally eaten up effortlessly.
A round trip encompassing Cardiff, Heathrow Airport, Brighton, Southampton and back to Cardiff all in one day left me feeling none the worse for wear and in fact I thoroughly enjoyed the drive. It really is a fantastic mile-eater! This is where I think it really stands out from others. Despite its smaller size than its other Volvo siblings, it is far better suited to longer cruises than shorter urban activity. It gave the impression of great solidity and build quality but at the expense of a certain Ã¢Â€Â˜heaviness' that marred its practicality around town.
All things considered, the C30 is a fantastic, enjoyable, economical car to drive and the open road puts it right in its comfort zone, but as a baby-carrying runabout I would say to reassess straight away and look at the similarly-priced S40 instead.