2013 Volvo C30 Polestar Limited Edition
The Volvo C30 debuted for the 2008 model year and gave Volvo buyers something that they have craved for years – a sporty model. In its base format, the C30 pumps out a stout 227 horsepower from its 2.5-liter inline 5-cylinder engine. Though it was relatively powerful, Volvo felt it needed a little bit more by developing a Polestar version of this hot hatchback.
We first caught a glimpse of the C30 Polestar concept way back in 2010 and we expected to see a production model shortly after, but it never happened. This 2010 concept boasted a 450-horsepower, turbocharged 2.5-liter engine, leaving the sky as the limit with the production model.
Finally, after two years of development, Volvo has announced that it will release a limited number of production C30 Polestars to the public. Along with this announcement comes a press release showing off its features and, more importantly, its specifications.
The question hanging over the head of this new arrival in big bold letters is “Can it live up to the hype?” We definitely do not expect 450 ponies from this 3-door Polestar hatchback, but it still has some pretty big shoes to fill.
UPDATE 10/30/12: The Volvo C30 Polestar Edition was spotted at the 2012 SEMA Auto Show! It definitely caught us by surprise, we’ll tell you that. But seeing it there has convinced us that this sports car deserves to be in the company of all those sick machines.
To find out if Volvo hit a homerun or struck out with the C30 Polestar Limited Edition, click past the jump.
2013 Volvo C30 Polestar Limited Edition
Horsepower @ RPM:250
Torque @ RPM:273
Volvo only added small changes to the exterior of the C30 in the process of converting it to the Polestar, but the changes are obvious. The first thing Volvo did was drape the exterior in a beautiful coat of Rebel Blue, which is all new for the 2013 model year. You’ll also notice that even the unsightly plastic wheel flares and side skirts on the standard C30 are replaced by sleeker add ons painted the same color as the body, giving the Polestar a much cleaner look. Also added in is a body-colored lower lip on the front fascia. The revised side skirts, wheel flares, and front lip are all borrowed from the R-Design model.
Up front, you get a set of dual Xenon lights that move in the direction the car travels for optimal lighting through turns. A pair of headlight washers keep your nighttime vision at a maximum by keeping the lenses free of debris at the push of a button. During the daytime you get the added safety of LED daytime lighting. Keeping the windshield free of water is a set of rain-sensing wipers.
On the corners, you get a set of 17-inch Styx alloy wheels covered in a matte black. This adds a little extra color and style to the Polestar, farther separating it from the other trim levels. The final addition, that we are informed of, is the addition of Polestar badges on the front, rear, and sides of the C30, as well as an R-Design logo on the front grille.
We really wish that Volvo would have added a little more flare to the exterior of the C30, but we can appreciate the simple additions in order to retain a clean look.
On the inside, there’s a key component that identifies this car as a limited edition: a number plate telling you what number in the series your C30 Polestar is. You also get full-leather seating in either a two-toned format using off-black and Calcite or just plain off-black. The C30 Polestar Limited Edition also comes packed with the same features found on the C30 T5 R-Design Premier Plus, which includes: power sunroof, power driver’s seat with memory, soft cover for the cargo area, auto-dimming rearview mirror with a built-in compass, and power passenger’s seat.
There are also a ton of optional interior features via the Platinum trim level. This trim level gives you a premium sound system with Dolby II Pro Logic Surround Sound, 10 speakers, and 650 watts of eardrum pleasing power. The Platinum trim level also adds in a navigation system with real-time traffic updates and map care, and SiriusXM radio.
Brought over from the R-Design C30 into the interior of the Polestar model is a watch-dial instrument cluster, aluminum inlays throughout, a sports steering wheel and sport pedals. For an added fee you can toss in a climate package, which includes heated front seats, electronic climate control and an interior air quality system.
Above and beyond the federally mandated safety features (airbags, antilock brakes and dynamic stability and traction control), the C30 Polestar Limited Edition also includes Volvo’s Side Impact Protection System – six dual-chamber side airbags and a carefully engineered steel cage – and Volvo’s Whiplash Protection Seating System – the seats tilt rearward and move toward the rear of the car to help absorb impact and reduce stress on the neck.
Engine and Drivetrain
Under the hood is likely the most anticipated part of the C30 Polestar Limited Edition, thanks to its 450-horsepower concept back in 2010. Well, we hope you didn’t set your expectations too high, as the Polestar will sorely disappoint, if so. Polestar, Volvo’s performance arm, advanced the ignition timing of the base 2.5-liter T5 engine and increased airflow into the combustion chambers to add 23 horsepower and 37 pound-feet of torque. This brings the 2.5-liter 5-cylinder to a total of 250 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. That’s relatively impressive for a compact hatchback, but a far cry from the 450 ponies that the concept boasted.
One benefit of tuning in this manner is that the C30 Polestar does not lose the fuel efficiency of its base-level cousin. With a 6-speed manual transmission, the C30 Polestar gets 21 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. With the Geartronic 5-speed automatic, the C30 Polestar gets 21 mpg city and 30 mpg highway.
Sorry, Volvo, but someone buying this sort of car isn’t looking for economy; they want raw power! One benefit of this type of tuning is that it leaves lots of room for growth via the aftermarket realm.
The C30 did receive some suspension upgrades to make it worth the extra cash. Polestar made the suspension on the C30 about 30 percent stiffer than you’ll find on the R-Design model. Mono-tube dampers build up their pressure 20 percent faster, so there is less body lean due to the shocks giving way. Stiffer bushings on the front end make the steering ratio 10 percent quicker than the R-Design model.
Fortunately, Polestar paid closer attention to the suspension than it did with the C30’s engine.
Pricing and Availability
The term “Limited Edition” actually means something in the case of the C30 Polestar, as Volvo is only producing 250 examples. Fortunately, it will be relatively affordable with its base MSRP of $32,445, plus an $895 destination charge. That’s only $4,595 markup from the 2013 C30 R-Design’s base MSRP.
The biggest competitor that the C30 Polestar will have is the 2013 VW Golf R. First and Foremost, the Golf has a longer tradition and far more respect earned in the automotive world than the C30. The Golf R has five colors, giving you a little more to choose from, so you’re not stuck only with blue. Plus the Golf R is an all-wheel-drive vehicle, unlike the C30 Polestar, which only comes in front-wheel drive.
The Polestar has the edge in torque at 273 pound-feet vs. 243 pound-feet, but the Golf R squeezes 6 more ponies from its 4-banger than the Polestar’s 5-cylinder. Plus, the Polestar is very unlikely to beat the Golf R’s 6.2-second sprint to 60 mph, despite the torque advantage, due to the Golf’s AWD system.
The Polestar comes in about $1,500 cheaper than the VW Golf R, but the Golf R’s AWD system more than pays for that difference. However, where the Polestar overtakes the Golf R is in exclusivity… There are only going to be 250 C30 Polestars built. Unfortunately for the Volvo, the Golf R simply crushes it in standard features too, giving you dual-zone climate control, heated seats, Bluetooth, iPod interface and heated mirrors all standard. Plus, you can get a 4-door Golf R, making it good for families too.
The Volvo C30 Polestar Limited Edition is cool. It has plenty of power, only 250 models will ever grace the streets and it is just cool to drive a performance Volvo. If you are looking for pure performance, you will want to opt for its Golf R. We also left off the fact that you can get into a 6.2-second Focus ST for about $10K less and the 305-horsepower WRX STI hatchback for just $3K more.
However, if you like the exclusivity and are willing to take a hit in performance for that exclusive Polestar club, then snag one up when Volvo releases it in October 2012. We’ll say that Volvo hit a solid double with this one, despite swinging for the fences...