Hot hatch Heaven

Volvo C30 Geartronic
Volvo C30 Geartronic.jpg
Sticking to road like your favourite superglue, this 2.5-litre turbo takes some beating in the upper echelons of the hot hatch club, burning all and sundry with a mighty 180 kilowatts.

She is a bit of a fighter, too, and gets plenty of snarls at the traffic lights from wannabe boy racers – of all ages. Though, when you are behind the wheel of the R-Design, the need to take up the enticing invitation to play dice is like putting the Stormers up against your son’s rugby team; it is hardly a fair fight.

Some farmer in his Discovery 3 thought he would have me robot to robot, but was sadly deluded once the turbo kicked in (all the way up to the speed limit, of course).

From 0-100, the Volvo smashes the Golf GTI, while cornering is sublime – sticking to the road as if it were on rails. Being a front-wheel drive, there is a great deal of power going into the front, so it could benefit from a rear-wheel/all-wheel drive system, which would also facilitate more sideways action.

The interior is tastefully decked out, with limited tech gizmos, to give you that racing feel. To boot, you can fit in two baby seats in the back, and let your kids enjoy the effortless ride and grunty engine note.

Consumption really depends on how you drive: When hammered, it will sip juice faster than a parched sailor. When cuddled, the C30 is surprisingly economical, giving more fuel to the thought that your driving style determines your consumption. Hummer drivers excluded.

I get the feeling unmarried individuals may find that ‘business’ picks up, as the R-Design is a real head-turner and, because of its relative rarity, gives you an advantage of exclusivity.

A car that looks so good and drives even better does tend to encourage slightly faster driving. While staying in Hermanus recently, we decided to take a scenic drive,with no particular destination in mind.

First off, it is the kind of car that begs to be driven. Before long, we got lost, not sure of directions. The next sign we saw read, “Welcome to Cape Agulhas, the mostsouthern part of South Africa”, which was a bit of surprise, considering it was over 150 kilometres from home!

The strangest part about the R-Design Geartronic is its rarity: at just under R400 000, it is in GTI country price-wise, but I have not seen another on the road – though I am surrounded by cheeky GTI drivers at a dime a dozen. The verdict is 9 out of 10: definitely the best front-wheel-drive hot hatch on the market.


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This edition

Issue 72