Cars & Bids Bargain of the Week: 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar

There are front-wheel-drive hot hatches, AWD ones, and occasionally RWD ones, but luxury ones might be the rarest. While the Golf R and 2023 Integra qualify, and the GTI is arguably near-luxury, overall, the segment is rather sparse. However, one somewhat unexpected automaker once offered an alternative to those choices. And this week on Cars & Bids, you can try snagging an example of that alternative: a 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design with a Polestar tune.

Right at the end, Polestar gave the Volvo C30 hot hatch an extra shot of Swedish speed

The rear 3/4 view of a blue 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition on a racetrack
2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition rear 3/4 | Volvo
2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition
Engine2.5-liter turbocharged inline-five
Horsepower250 hp
Torque273 lb-ft
TransmissionSix-speed manual
Five-speed automatic
Curb weight3211 lbs
0-60 mph time5.9 seconds (manual)

Before it spun off to focus on electric cars, Polestar was Volvo’s racing and then performance division. And just like its German counterparts M and AMG, Polestar gave a few Volvo road cars a touch more speed. Cars like the V60 Polestar, for example, a 362-hp station wagon with Ohlins suspension. But before it spiced up the wagon, Polestar turned its attention to another Volvo: the C30 hot hatch.

In standard form, the FWD Volvo C30 is more lukewarm than hot. Yes, it’s comfortable, stylish, and its funky rear hatch gives it great visibility. Also, when’s the last time you saw a five-cylinder car? However, while the standard C30 is decent fun, it’s also heavier, slower, and not as agile as the contemporary GTI, MotorTrend says.

The ‘regular’ Volvo C30 R-Design fixes some of those issues. It has a quicker steering rack with stiffer bushings, lower ride height, body kit, rear spoiler, as well as stiffer springs, shocks, and anti-roll bars. But Polestar thought it could go further. And it proved so in 2012 with the bonkers 450-hp, AWD C30 Polestar Concept.

Unfortunately, that car was a bit too extreme to put into production, especially since Volvo was about to end C30 production. But it garnered enough attention for Volvo, which rarely shouts about its performance side, to throw enthusiasts a bone. That bone was the 2013 C30 R-Design Polestar Limited Edition.

Polestar only retuned the ECU for more power, torque, and responsiveness. As a result, the C30 R-Design Polestar Edition handles much like the standard car, MT says. But it genuinely responds better to throttle inputs and surges stronger in the middle of its rev range. So, it’s 0.3 seconds quicker to 60 mph. And it has a sweet electric-blue paint job.

A Euro-bought copy of these limited-edition hot hatches is up for grabs on Cars & Bids

A blue modified 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design with Polestsar tune in a parking lot
Modified 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design with Polestar tune | Cars & Bids

Although Polestar offered its ECU tune as a stand-alone Volvo C30 R-Design feature, the Limited Edition comes with more than just that. Also, it’s significantly rarer than a retuned R-Design. Volvo only sold 250 Polestar Limited Editions in the US.

The car currently listed on Cars & Bids technically isn’t one of them. Its original owner ordered this 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design while serving Germany with the US Air Force. After moving back to the US, they sold the car to its current owner. As it wasn’t originally sold in the US, it doesn’t have the Limited Edition’s numbered plaque or black wheels. However, it’s otherwise identical to the ‘actual’ Polestar Limited Edition.

So, in addition to the Polestar ECU tune and previously-mentioned performance features, this 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design has 18” wheels, leather upholstery, and an R-Design steering wheel, pedals, dials, and aluminum inlays. Also, it has Xenon headlights with washers, heated front seats, a power-operated sunroof, and dual-zone automatic climate control. It has rain-sensing wipers, navigation, and keyless ignition, too.

The black-leather front seats and black dashboard of a blue modified manual 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design with a Polestar tune
Modified 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design with Polestar tune front interior | Cars & Bids

However, this Polestar-tuned C30 R-Design isn’t stock. In addition to some fender decals, it has an additional Elevate ECU tune. And it has the corresponding Elevate downpipe and cat-back exhaust. The seller hasn’t dyno-tuned it, but Elevate claims this setup should add at least 12 lb-ft of torque and 10 hp.

Overall, this 2013 Volvo C30 is in solid shape. Apart from some scattered chips, scratches, dents, and scuffs, the only significant issue is a non-functional Bluetooth microphone. The seller claims it will work by auction’s end, though.

Plus, it has just under 100,000 miles on the clock and has an extensive service history. In the last three years, the seller replaced the radiator, coolant reservoir, passenger-side inner-axle CV boot, and tires. Also, they flushed the brake fluid and cleaned the injectors in 2020, and just replaced the oil and transmission fluid.

This Polestar-tuned 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design is a rare luxury hot hatch bargain

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As of this writing, this 203 Volvo C30 R-Design is listed at $10,000 with three days left in the auction. No, it’s not a ‘real’ Polestar Limited Edition, but it’s functionally identical—and it has a manual. And as of this writing, the only other similarly-equipped C30 with under 100,000 miles on Autotrader costs twice as much.

Seeing as it’s a modified used luxury car, a pre-purchase inspection is recommended. Overall, though, these C30s tend to be reliable, FCP Euro says. They also share a lot of parts with the Mazdaspeed3 and European Focus RS, which means aftermarket support is solid. And because it shares a platform with the AWD S60 and V50, theoretically, you could turn a C30 R-Design into a Polestar Concept clone, FCP Euro claims.

But even if you don’t, a Polestar-tuned Volvo C30 is a solid alternative to more ‘mainstream’ hot hatches.

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