In-depth reviews

Renault Arkana SUV review

“The Renault Arkana is a stylish hybrid-only coupe SUV that’s practical and well-equipped”

Carbuyer Rating

3.9 out of 5

Price
£24,420 - £30,050

Pros

  • Sleek looks
  • Frugal hybrid
  • Lots of standard equipment

Cons

  • More expensive than the Captur
  • Not very quick
  • Rear seats don’t slide

The Renault Arkana is the French brand’s latest SUV, slotting in between the Renault Captur and Renault Kadjar. It shares many parts and even some styling features with the Captur but it’s not simply a coupe version. For example, rear legroom is more generous than in the Captur, even rivalling the bigger Kadjar.

You may have noticed plenty of coupe-SUVs on the road recently; it’s a small section of the market that’s growing rapidly. Most of them wear premium badges and price tags to match, so the Arkana has few, if any, real rivals at the moment. The Citroen C4 offers similarly sleek styling (but less space inside), while the Toyota C-HR and Mazda CX-30 might also be on your shortlist. There are also shades of a saloon in its design, so it might appeal to buyers who would previously have bought a Renault Laguna.

Top 10 best 4x4s and SUVs 2021

The Arkana is a new model for UK buyers and the engine range is suitably modern. There are two options: an E-Tech hybrid version and a petrol option with mild-hybrid assistance that helps the stop/start system and acceleration. Both are similar to what you’ll find in the Renault Clio.

Because the hybrid has a small battery, which is recharged by the petrol engine, it doesn’t need plugging in. That does, however, mean that the Arkana E-Tech model doesn’t have an electric range to speak of, it’s just more efficient; you can expect up to 57.6mpg, which is roughly the same as the C-HR and the Kia Niro. With that economy figure, it’s no wonder that Renault isn’t offering a diesel option.

The hybrid doesn’t offer the performance that you might expect from the athletic styling. It feels quite sluggish, which isn’t too surprising given a power output of 142bhp. For comparison, the Hyundai Tucson hybrid has 227bhp.

The hybrid is expected to be the best-seller but the mild-hybrid petrol option is slightly cheaper. Despite having a little less power than the hybrid, it’s a second quicker from 0-62mph because it’s lighter. Renault claims up to 48.7mpg for this engine, which is pretty good for a petrol-powered SUV, but it still feels like it works hard to get the Arkana up to speed. 

The seven-speed automatic transmission is also unconvincing because it feels like it spends too long engaging the appropriate gear. Possibly because of its sporty looks, the Arkana R.S. Line model we tested also had firm suspension, which felt out of place in a family SUV. The Mazda CX-30 does a better job of offering a sporty feel and handling without becoming unsettled, while the Citroen C4 has a far smoother ride.

Inside, it’s very similar to the Captur and Clio, which could irk buyers spending more than £30,000 on a range-topping R.S. Line version. An impressive 9.3-inch touchscreen is fitted on two of the three trim levels, while there’s a long list of standard equipment. Safety kit is very generous too, no doubt helping the Arkana gain its five-star Euro NCAP rating. Top-spec cars even get self-parking functionality.

The Arkana is actually longer than the Kadjar, so there aren’t any practicality drawbacks. Rear space is good - the headroom essentially matches what you get in the Captur - and the boot is a decent size at 480 litres, even if it is quite shallow.

With a firm ride and slightly dull powertrains, the Arkana isn't as appealing for drivers as it first looks. Fuel efficiency and practicality are more impressive, and Renault's current offer of two years’ free servicing and a five-year warranty adds some lustre to the ownership experience.

Which Is Best?

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.3 TCe Mild Hybrid 140 Iconic 5dr EDC
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £24,420

Most Economical

  • Name
    1.6 E-TECH Hybrid 145 Iconic 5dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £25,450

Fastest

  • Name
    1.3 TCe Mild Hybrid 140 Iconic 5dr EDC
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £24,420

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