Volvo C30

It's not always hip to be square-just ask Volvo. For years the Swedes have been trying to figure out how to shed their signature rectangular look in favor of one with sharper, sexier, younger lines. Well, the C30 is definitely thinking outside the box. In fact, it's the sleekest, most aggressive-looking Volvo yet. The sports-car character of this hot hatchback is underscored by a slanted snout, wide front air scoops, low-mounted driving lights, a smart-looking roof spoiler, bumper-mounted twin tailpipes, and a neat two-tone finish.

Yet it is still undeniably Volvo. This proto shares a platform with the 540 sedan, and even though it's shorter and a bit wider than the four-door, this coupe seats four rather comfortably. It packs a turbocharged 2.4 liter inline-5 engine-good for 260 horsepower and 268 lb.-ft. of torque-and a 6-speed manual transmission. Plus, of course, there are the signature safety features, including side and front airbags, whiplash protection, and an audible alert when you get too close to another car or object in the roadway, The trunk is a bit tight (leave the big bags at home unless you want to fold down the rear seats), but it's a small price to pay for this more shapely Swedish sled.

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