(Photos By Burton/Heico)
STRATTON MOUNTAIN, Vt. -- Today we drive a car that gives us a tantalizing glimpse of a potential future, even as its predecessor is ready to roll.
While a new Volvo C30 hatchback will not be given to the press for testing until this summer, to be followed by its appearance on showroom floors, there is already a media buzz: This will be a huge car for Volvo and its enthusiasts. Hatchbacks with grunt could be the hot rods of the future, and I predict that the C30 even in this "civilian" form will be one of the best to hit the streets in years.
But let's hope the experimental version of the C30 I just drove, called a
Inside, finely stitched leathers surround the dash. Even the texture is preserved. The same care is used in the seats, which have dark leather surrounding a gray insert. Again, the fine stitching gives it a look of luxury.
Big knobs and buttons allow convenient operation of ride, audio, and climate functions from a floating control panel that is wafer-thin. It descends from the upper dash to the shifter.
Volvo teamed up with Burton Snowboards as well as the tuners at Heico Sportiv to build this one-off hot-rod version, and the tuners juiced the car to the gills. On top of the horsepower, it boasts 310 lb.-ft. of tugging torque. In third and fourth gears, that allows the driver to stomp the gas and get a surge of instant response.
And I loved playing with the gears. Six of them are plenty for rolling along the twisting, up-and-down roads between Vermont and New Hampshire. Pushing the engine, transmission, and tires -- that were specially designed for the showcase model -- showed me just how far this Volvo could go.
The cargo compartment has room for snowboards and boarding boots can be tucked beneath a rear deck, which is heated. I think the snow-boarding term for this would be "sick." And that's what a 20-something woman actually said to me when I stopped for a cup of coffee in Brattleboro . She liked my ride. This was not her father's Volvo.
The front end still says "Volvo " but the rear end has another statement.
First, the fenders are downright pumped. Big and bulging, sort of Jose Canseco-ish. They flare above the rear tires, giving great definition to the back that Volvo aficionados will appreciate (picture the old and fabled 1800 ES). The rear gate is a big piece of glass.
But there is no doubt this is a modern car with modern features, including air bags, Heico coil-over suspension, and a Haldex all-wheel-drive system that sends power and braking wherever needed for optimum control.
And there is a lot to control. The 2.5-liter engine is boosted by a Borg-Warner turbocharger that is cooled by air and water.
The good news is that in the past decade I have driven a couple of cars that are affordable and fun for the everyday driver: The Audi A3 and this Volvo.
Unfortunately, the Volvo I just drove is not a production version -- yet. It will be shipped back to Sweden and crushed.