LOS ANGELES – Volvo Cars of North America LLC stages the North American debut of its C30 small car at the auto show here.

Riding on Ford Motor Co.’s C1 global architecture, the same platform underpinning the S40, many of the design cues of the turbocharged C30 remain true to the concept unveiled last January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

For instance, there are seven different floating center stack looks available, says Steve Mattin, Volvo Car Corp. design director, including the aluminum treatment found in the concept car.

The front-wheel-drive C30 is powered by a turbocharged 5-cyl. engine that makes 218 hp and 236 lb.-ft. (320 Nm) of torque. A 0-60 mph (97 km/h) acceleration time of 6.2 seconds is expected.

It has the same 103.9-in. (264-cm) wheelbase as the S40 but is 8.5 ins. (22 cm) shorter, with the wheels pushed out to the corners and accentuated by large shoulders.

“This is the smallest Volvo car but with the most muscular shoulders,” Mattin says.

The C30 is Volvo’s latest attempt to attract a younger consumer, VCNA President and CEO Anne Belec says. She says Volvo’s average North American buyer is 42 years old, and the S40 currently has the youngest demographic in Volvo’s North American lineup.

“We are definitely aiming for a youthful-minded type of customer,” she tells reporters. “Some of them are going to be driving this vehicle for their first vehicle and some of them are going to be adding to the stable.”

Belec says the marketing campaign for the C30 primarily will be Web-based, and many accessories, both factory-made (snowboard and bike racks) and supplier-produced (appearance add-ons) will be available.

She sees the C30’s primary competitors as the Mini Cooper, Audi A3 and Volkswagen GTI and promises it will be priced competitively with those models.

Annual U.S. C30 sales are targeted at 10,000 units. “But I think the car has potential, and it could surprise us by doing even better than that,” Belec says.

The launch of the C30 at the end of next summer will mean Volvo won’t have a full year of sales in 2007.

This has been a recurring issue for the auto maker, as the shortened availability of the new C70, launched in the U.S. in the spring, has limited total Volvo sales this year, down 7.9% to 98,053 units through October.

“We haven’t been operating with a full portfolio all year long,” Belec says. “Our main reason comes from not having all the cars we typically have to sell.”

She says a softening in the luxury segment really hasn’t been an issue for Volvo. Although sales of utility vehicles have suffered in general this year, Belec says the XC90 has “out-performed the SUV segment.”

However, Ward’s data shows XC90 sales down 7.8% through October to 27,059.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com