Volvo C30 DRIVe: Economy twin test

Volvo C30 DRIVe: v Ford Focus Econetic

So called 'eco' cars are nothing new. Manufacturers who use 'green' as a way of describing products with low emissions and high fuel economy sound a little old-hat. Cars need to be fuel efficient, it's that simple. No need for the green badge.

The 'DRIVe' badge on the Volvo C30 long-termer is there as a way of highlighting the car's green credentials. The lower case 'e' tells us, in an understated way, that this is an environmentally friendly car.

Last month my colleague Chris Ebbs handed back the keys to a Ford Focus Econetic after a six-month test and, like the Volvo, it wears its green credentials with pride.

They are both small family hatchbacks claiming to be eco-friendly, but which is best?

Here's our Focus Econetic v C30 DRIVe head-to-head.

Fuel economy and emissions

Volvo - Official combined fuel economy 61.4mpg; Parker's best fuel economy 49.1mpg 

CO2 emissions 99g/km

Ford - Official combined fuel economy 65.7mpg; Parker's best fuel economy 54.4mpg

CO2 emissions 114g/km (without start/stop)

*current Econetic models - Official combined fuel economy 70.6mpg; 74.2mpg with start/stop

CO2 emissions 104g/km; 99g/km with start/stop

Ford win 

Practicality

Volvo - It's not hugely practical especially for young families with their first child. The coupe design yields limited boot space and that means that you can't even carry a set of golf clubs without folding the rear seats down. That doesn't bode well if you have a couple of kids with a pushchairs and all the other stuff that you need for a day out. You might even struggle to get all your stuff in on shopping trips. It's a three-door only and pushing the front seat forward to get in the back can be a faff too.

Ford - The Focus trumps the C30 on all fronts: the boot is easily big enough for a set of golf clubs (my benchmark) and it should be sizeable enough for a family's needs. Fitting in all the shopping should be a cinch too. It's also a five-door with a plenty of head- and legroom in the back.

Ford win

Value

Volvo - The C30 we are running is the SE Lux version that has all the bells and whistles and for that you'll pay £20,590. With that we have extra aluminium effect trim on the skirts and around the headlights. We get aluminium effect on the console and gearknob, plus we've got two-tone cloth seats, 17-inch alloys, Bluetooth handsfree and heated seats. However, if you opt for the standard version DRIVe that costs £17,690, you get alloys, climate control and stability control and start/stop as standard.

Ford - Our Focus Econetic cost £19,695 with a communications pack that included sat nav, iPod connectivity and Bluetooth. However, Ford has just announced that it will be cutting its prices on August 2, 2010, making the cheapest Econetic just £16,645. Thing is you have to pay an extra £1,000 for alloys, a further £500 for start/stop and you only get aircon with no option for climate control. So, pitching it against the Volvo with the same level of equipment you'll pay £18,145 - £455 more expensive than the C30.

Volvo win 

Residual values

Volvo - Residual values after three years/36,000 miles range from £6,553- £10,566

Ford - Residual values after three-year benchmark range from £5,323 - £7,115

Volvo win

Performance

Volvo  - The 107bhp C30 DRIVe accelerates from 0-62mph in 10.9s and top speed is 118mph

Focus - The 88bhp Econetic accelerates from 0-62mph in 12.2s and stop speed is 112mph

Volvo win

Ride and handling

Chris and I have driven both and we came to the same conclusion: it's a draw. Yes, the Focus is grippier in corners and turn-in is very crisp, but the Volvo is more relaxed on the motorway and there is less body lean in the corners.

Draw

Comfort

Every time I get out of the Volvo I feel relaxed, but that was not the case with the Focus Econetic. That 88bhp diesel was much more vocal because with the lower power output, it had a lot more work to do. The Volvo's seating position is superior and the seats themselves much comfier and supportive.

Volvo win 

Desirability

The Volvo's design splits the office. Some like it, some hate it. I think it looks better than the Focus and that coupe shape should win many admirers. Chris hates the rear end of the car, but I think it's a signature design that stands out. The projected residuals should be a pointer to desirability which suggests that the Volvo takes victory again.

Volvo win

Head-to-head result

Volvo 5-2

 

Alternatives

Seat Leon 1.6 TDI Ecomotive S 5d

Skoda Octavia

Volkswagen Golf 1.6 BlueMotion (105) SE Stop/Start

  

Current mileage: 7871

Average mpg: 49.1mpg