Save some coolness from the concept for production

Volvo planned to sell fewer than 10,000 of the C-30 hatchbacks annually in the United States. This year its sales through August are 2,256. Pictured is the 2012 model.

With all the eye candy coming out of the Frankfurt auto show this week, I can't help but think of my quirky little car.

I own a 2008 Volvo C-30 two-door hatchback.

It's a rarity and a reminder that, if done right, automakers can hit a halo home run.

The car elicits looks and comments just about anywhere I take it. Its design appeals to men and women alike. Most people ask about its fuel economy, how it handles and inevitably why they don't see more of these cars on the roads.

Most recently, a mechanic asked the top speed I've driven in it. I told him I go the speed limit. But, smiling inside, I knew the number.

Volvo planned to sell fewer than 10,000 of the hatchbacks annually in the United States when I bought it. This year its sales through August are 2,256.

I like that -- I don't want a cookie-cutter car, and I do not follow the crowd.

And it's a darn good car. It's front-wheel drive, which is handy for a Detroit winter. I like the grip on the sport-steering wheel. Its tight-shifting six-speed manual transmission makes it fun to drive. The five-cylinder turbocharged engine, which makes 227 hp and 236 pounds-feet of torque, means I get where I'm going fast.

And, most importantly, my 90-pound super dog, Chancey, fits comfortably inside.

The C-30 is based partially on the Volvo Safety Concept car that debuted at the Detroit auto show in 2001.

How many times do we see cool concept vehicles at auto shows that never come to life? And if they do, the automaker so waters down the conceptual design that the initial coolness morphs into a generic mass of metal with no personality.

Volvo didn't let that happen with the C-30. The result is an eye-popping niche vehicle that halos the entire brand, lifting it up and creating buzz.

It's an example for other brands to follow.



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