The car hits its stride on mountain roads. It's far from lightweight, so handling is closer to a proper sports sedan than a classic hot hatch. To some, that may sound negative, but there is a level of stability you don't get in something that may be more tossable. Understeer is present under trail-braking, but finish braking before entering the turn and great initial bite is the reward. The front end hooks up better than any other Volvo I know of. The customary vague, disconnected, floating feeling from the front tires is now replaced with great feedback and quick reactions.

The Haldex system takes full advantage of the extra boost. Getting hard on the throttle past the apex results in slingshot-like launches onto the next straight. Drivers will have a tough time provoking oversteer, unless they're in the snow, but the balance is comfortable. The feeling is similar to a well set-up front-wheel-drive car, just with significantly more acceleration out of turns.

I'm even more convinced that Volvo is going to become a real player in the premium small car segment. The C30 represents what many customers expect from a Euro hot hatch. It represents something a little different in the market.

While some European manufacturers are doing things to make their vehicles more mainstream, it seems Volvo has purposely left some interesting features in the C30; a distinctly European look inside and out. If North American customers can only convince the company to build an all-wheel drive version, Volvo may really have something.

Heico C30 Wu
*Layout
Transverse front engine, all-wheel drive

*Engine
2.5-liter in-line five, dohc, 20-valve,Heico software and turbo-back exhaust, Aquamist water injector

*Suspension
KW/Heico threaded body coilovers

*Wheels And Tires
Heico Sportiv Volution, 8x18
Toyo Proxes T1R, 245/40

*Exterior
Heico front and rear bumpers, side skirts and flares

*Interior
Custom upholstery and leather headliner, snowboard and boot storage in the rear

*Performance
Peak Power: 300 hp @ 17.4 psi

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