Cars Coming Soon: Volvo Hopes to Turn Corner with Performance Division

Volvo C30 PCP

Will the Volvo C30 PCP take on the BMW M3?

A couple of weeks ago I included Volvo on a list of car brands that might be better off dead.

I wouldn’t have done that had I known the Swedish/Chinese company was planning to take on the vaunted BMW M Series and Mercedes-Benz AMG division.

What’s that, you say? A performance Volvo?

Yes. Stop laughing, gather yourself, open your mind to the fact that anything is possible, and then follow the jump.

The Volvo of the past was known for being two things: boxy and safe. In fact, I’m reminded of the movie “Crazy People,” in which Dudley Moore proclaims a new slogan: “Volvo. They’re boxy, but they’re good.”

These days, the only remaining Volvo that might be considered boxy is the V70, and it’s been discontinued. With the boxy label out and its safety reputation still somewhat intact, the next logical step for Volvo is to go down the performance path, right?

2011 BMW M3

Watch out M, here comes PCP

Volvo’s brand may not be quite there yet, so it might be a longshot, but the company appears to be getting serious about launching a performance division by partnering with a racing company called Polestar to produce a limited run of 5-cylinder turbocharged 400-hp AWD C30 hatchbacks that’ll wear a PCP nameplate.

While you’re free to make your own hallucinogenic joke, in this case PCP stands for Performance Concept Prototype and will likely show up on the backside of hi-po Volvo models of the future. Ultimately, maybe even on performance trims of all future Volvo models.

Pricing on the C30 PCP will be around the same as the BMW M3, which I think will make for a pretty tough sell.

As a fan of performance, though, I’ve got to hand it to Volvo for injecting some passion into a brand I’d already written off. (As a side note, Volvo USA recently posted a cool video on YouTube, showing the production process of an S60.)

If its performance is comparable, would you consider a Volvo C30 PCP over a BMW M3?


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Used Volvo V70
Used Volvo C30
Used BMW M3
Used Volvo S60


  1. Well, you can’t make a BMW simply by putting a powerful engine in a car. If you could, GM would have been making them for a long time. When you tear down a BMW (I’ve torn down or seen more than a dozen torn down) you note that every surface, even the door pockets, is “engineered” and everything on the car works towards a quality driving experience. They really excel at steering, and the car just seems glued to the road because it instictively goes where you point it. In the previous discussion on the Corvette, that’s a contrast– The Corvette has inferior steering complicated by oversized tires (to create handling that isn’t engineered into the car) and handling a Corvette is a fight with the steering wheel.
    Pre-Ford Volvo was one of the weirdest cars I ever drove. I got one thrust on me by a rental agency, and it took me into the second day to figure out where the durned remote mirror controls were hidden. I also found out the trunk wasn’t locked unless you deliberately locked it with the key– I’m sure that made it a thieve’s favorite in Orlando (where I was working at the time). The steering was the worst I’ve ever used– the car simply liked to wander from left to right and you had to constantly resteer– kind of like driving a boat.
    Ford Volvo was a bit less weird, but they still had awful steering– you constantly had to fight it and it was stiff, so you’d be tired by the time you got where you were going. First rate stability system and a good, tight chassis though, although it ate expensive tires at a rapid pace.
    Frankly, the thought that Volvo can engineer a BMW-grade performance vehicle is ludicrous to me.

  2. If the price is right, which it won’t be. But I’ve been wrong before.

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