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Quick but smooth
The lightweight C30 wrings plenty of fun out of its 227-horsepower turbocharged 5-cylinder engine. But it's a good-natured Volvo kind of fun.

Even with the thin-rubbered 18-inch performance wheels, the emphasis is on a comfortable day-to-day ride. The C30 is no sports car, but its steering is quick and responsive. Feedback is good despite finger-light effort, and the car is well-balanced in turns.

Like the rest of the car, the steering wheel in my test car had a cool, organic design and felt nice to use, alternating between warm leather and cool metal as I ran it through my hands. (The car in the picture has the standard steering wheel, without the metal insert on the inner rim and textured grip.)

My test car had a six-speed manual transmission. The squared-off shifter was shaped more like an automatic transmission's gear selector, making it less pleasant to slap around quickly. But the shifter and clutch felt good and are designed for easy daily use rather than snappy, race-car shifting.

NEXT: Economically challenged

Last updated April 17 2008: 11:43 AM ET