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Volvo C30 : Life really does begin at 30

LAST week I enjoyed the ultimate driving experience ... and I also had a Volvo C30.

That's not to put down the baby Volvo's credentials, it just happened to follow hot on the heels of a four-day Mercedes S Class odyssey.

Ask any motoring hack worth his salt: 'What is the best drive of all?' and the vast majority tell you the S Class rules.

One or two plonkers will invariably tell you that it's not, but don't listen to them, they do not know what they're talking about.

The S Class is the closest thing to sex in a car, than, erm ... sex in a car.

EXCITEMENT

I had two semi-naked girls in the back seat of mine on Saturday evening, and neither could stop tittering with nervous excitement as I went through the gears and showed just what I could do when armed with bags of BHPs and RPMs.

Okay, they were both bridesmaids who were showing off an unnatural amount of artificially bronzed skin and we were on the way back from the church where I had just officiated as best man, but they were almost naked and excited nonetheless.

So you can see why it was always going to be hard for the Volvo C30 to live up to such a lofty experience ... well, not a bit of it.

The Volvo C30 has more in common with the S Class than you think.

For me, it is the ultimate driving experience for small cars.

There is bags of pace, a real feeling of quality and a sense of exhilaration that is usually the preserve of the supercar, like our aforementioned friend.

For some reason the Volvo hasn't made a great go of it since its birth four years ago, so you could say it's at a stage of mid-life crisis.

Now, anyone I know who is at that crossroads usually ends up making an utter tit of themselves by redesigning their wardrobe to make them look like a Bee Gee, trading in the wife and getting themselves a sports car.

However, the people at Volvo have managed to carry off a near perfect makeover for the C30, practically reinventing it and creating a supersexy hot hatch.

The C30 was one of the head turners of the year so far for me, and it must be said the sexy Orange Flame Metallic and silver trimming made it unavoidable for even the most one-eyed of observers.

There is a very crisp honeycomb grille, and superbly styled angular lights, as well as a sportier front, and more bright colour options including a Lime Grass Green.

Now the vast majority of rubberneckers were younger drivers and passengers, but I still felt, despite my early stages of middle age, that I was driving a very hip little number.

However it was the overall performance and drive of the C30 that really got me going, more than any grass green, metallic orange or luminous pink paintjobs could ever do.

The take off and acceleration was quite stunning for a car that I wrongly suspected would be at best, 'reliable and able'.

Indoors there is a delicious choice of trim options, a very snazzy feel.

For such a small car of course there are bound to be problems with booth space, and there was - it is very small, but you're not buying an MPV here.

But it was on the road that the C30 impressed the most, thanks to a superb all-round performance, great handling, and supple ride.

The 2.0-litre diesel model is expected to be the big seller, and so it should be.

The best in the range includes my eco-friendly DRIVe version, with a 1.6-litre diesel hooked up to a stop-start system.

The Volvo C30 will cost you between e25,700 to e35,650 depending on spec.


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