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A Brief Interlude – A Volvo C30 T5 Appears

Well, Things have happened. I had a car, and now I don’t.

Long story short, Although the Swift was an amazing car, my feet were itchy and I needed something new to play with. This resulted in me listing the car for sale, with little to no interest.

Unfortunately when I listed it the market was heading down again, with interest rates increasing, and fewer people having spare money for toys.

So, if I couldn’t sell it, could I trade it for a new toy?

As it turns out, yes. The seller of a Volvo C30 was interested in a trade. We met up, went over each other’s cars, took them for a drive and a few days later the trade was done. I was suddenly down one Swift, and up one C30.

Now, anyone who has read this blog for a while, and knows Volvos, will know that I reviewed an S40 T5 a while back, and did not care much for it. So it may be a surprise that I would take on a C30, which is more or less an S40 with fewer doors (same platform, same engine, same basic interior).

To be honest, the mindset was simple; I haven’t owned a Volvo, and it’s a 5 cylinder turbo. Thats all.

So, what had I just picked up?

It was a 2012 Volvo C30 T5, New Zealand new, with about 164,000km on the clock. It was quite tidy, had a full service history, and drive well.

This was a facelift model, which has a whole different front to the older ones (see the review of S40 above, they had a similar front with smaller pill-shaped headlights), and a couple more horses under the bonnet.

Being NZ New it had both up and down sides. On one hand, everything was in English (as the displays can be hard to convert), and it had all the manuals and booklets. On the other hand, the options ticked were weird; It’s the top of the range T5 with heated half leather seats, but it’s not got xenon headlights, and it had the absolute poverty spec radio. Sadly it also doesn’t have the R-Design style pack, which makes it look just a bit nicer.

Speaking of the radio, it’s one thing that I really did not get on with in this car. It was so low spec it had ZERO audio inputs other than FM and CD. No Aux, and no Bluetooth audio. The stupid thing is that it had Bluetooth, but only to connect a phone for calls. Apparently the next model year had BT audio, and all levels of radio above this one had an Aux in the center console. In the end, I had to suffer through listening to either the radio or Spotify via an FM transmitter.

The car itself is almost exactly as per the review of the S40. it was solid on the road, and punchy down low. Unfortunately this also translated to the car feeling heavy and cumbersome when pushing on, and the engine didn’t really do much when revved. The auto was certainly not geared for performance either, always trying to jump into the highest gear as quick as it could, opting to kick down instead of hold gears. A sport mode would have made it 100% more tolerable, but all you had was a lazy tiptronic mode.

It was a nice enough car to drive though. It was easy to put miles on, and the creature comforts like cruise control, heated mirrors and heated seats (oh, and an amazing heater/AC) made it pleasant.

What didn’t make it pleasant was the aftermarket Dream Science catback exhaust the previous owner fitted. From what I gather, it was designed for a Focus St 225, and the previous owner adapted it to this car (which is why the rear valance under the bumper had to be cut out). This thing DRONED. It might have been OK in a manual Focus where you can drive around the worst RPM for drone (between 2500 and 3500rpm), but that RPM is where the auto just wanted to hang out. Get up the revs and the 5 cylinder warble came through, but other than that it was just a loud, brain mushing, BRRRRRRRRRRRR noise.

The C30 does have a cool style. I prefer it with the narrow pre-facelift front, but the rest of the car is a great piece of design. Big wide hips that are almost flat on the top in the rear, and big swoopy lines.

I probably could have got along with the car a bit longer, but the lethargic auto and terrible audio setup were really killing the car for me, but the final nail in the coffin was living with the drone. One day after driving the car home from work, with a headache already, the drone pushed me to the brink and it was listed for sale that night.

Shortly before I listed it though, I did manage to fix one big issue. The interiors on Volvos of this age don’t seem to age well, with glues failing and seat stitching splitting apart. The glues on this were holding ok, but the driver’s seat was literally coming apart at the seams.

It was ugly, and no doubt hindered the previous owner selling it too.

The plan was to fit some tailored seat covers the car came with, over top of the damaged skins, but long story short, I rage quit that job (no, I don’t want to talk about it) and just worked on making the most of what I had.

Now, before anyone says anything, I do not condone repairing airbag seats yourself, it should only be done by a trained professional. etc etc.

To ensure the big split on the bolster wouldn’t show through the seat cover I stitched it up. This ended up being the final solution, but whatever.

I started with this

And using a really sharp needle, some heavy thread, and a pair of pliers to pull the needle through, I started to sew it back together

Remember, this was meant to be a rough and ready solution to go under a cover, so don’t judge me.

I finished the rest of the sewing, and honestly, it looks a lot better than it did.

You can see the actual “leather” (or plastic, it’s not leather, I’m sure) on the bolster is damaged too, and someone has tried to fix it by filling the cracks and painting it black. It didn’t work. The previous owner tried to cover it (successfully I might add, I didn’t notice it until later) with what I think was insulation tape, which I had to remove as it started to peel off and break into pieces.

I gave the split in the base bolster the same treatment too

Once the seat was back in, I think it was a huge improvement

With the seat “fixed”, the car was listed and within a couple of days I had a buyer. One night I got a text message asking what my lowest price for the car was, to which, like usual, I reply “make an offer”.

Because this wasn’t marketplace, he actually did. He said he needed to adapt the car to hand controls due to a disability, and wanted another C30 since his previous one “had to go to insurance”, and due to the cost of the conversion he could only afford a certain amount. The amount was bang on what I was hoping to get (and more than I was trying to sell the Swift for), so later that night he transferred the money into my account, and the next day the car was dropped off at an address about 10 mins away from home.

It happened very quickly, even with me being very transparent on things like the state of the seats and the deafening exhaust, he just wasn’t bothered. To be fair, C30 T5s, especially NZ New ones, are very rare, so it’s possible he just knew what he wanted and chose to jump on it.

So that’s where we are currently. Im down a toy. Lucas has stepped up to be the reliable second car (to which, honestly, he is doing well, even with his insatiable thirst for fuel), and I’m in the market for a new toy. Who knows what I will end up with at this point, so watch this space.

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