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In-depth reviews

Renault Arkana review - stylish and practical hybrid SUV

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

Carbuyer Rating

3.9 out of 5

Owners Rating

4.0 out of 5

Read owner reviews
Price
£26,980 - £31,280

Pros

  • Sleek looks
  • Frugal hybrid
  • Lots of standard equipment

Cons

  • More expensive than the Captur
  • Hybrid system gets flustered
  • Rear seats don’t slide

Verdict – is the Renault Arkana a good car?

Although the Renault Arkana might appear to be a coupe-SUV version of the Renault Captur at first glance, it’s actually more spacious and offers a genuine middle-ground between the Captur and the larger Renault Austral, with an extra dose of style. It will appeal to buyers after a cheap-to-run mainstream coupe-SUV thanks to its frugal fully hybrid powertrain. It may not be the most practical or affordable car in its class, but Renault clearly wants this less well-established model to stand out in the crowd, and an extensive list of standard equipment is thrown in to boost its appeal.

Renault Arkana models, specs and alternatives

The Renault Arkana was introduced as a new coupe-SUV model in 2021 slotting between the Renault Captur and Renault Austral in the brand’s lineup. While it does share some parts and even styling cues with the Captur, the Arkana does more than just offer a sleeker look – rear legroom is more spacious than in the Captur and isn’t far off that of the larger Austral.

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Originally a niche body style reserved for more premium badges, you might have noticed that coupe-SUVs have started to pop up increasingly more often on UK roads in recent times. The Renault Arkana is one of the more recent additions to the market, and one of the most affordable, meaning it has few direct rivals. The Citroen C4 offers a similarly sleek design, but space is more limited, and buyers might also consider cars like the Toyota C-HR and Mazda CX-30. The Arkana’s design may even appeal to buyers who would have previously bought a saloon car like the Renault Laguna.

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The engine range is suitably modern. It was originally launched with 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 and Captur. As of spring 2023, the mild-hybrid is no longer available, leaving the E-Tech hybrid as the sole option.

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 than a regular petrol car. You can expect up to 58.9mpg, which is roughly the same as the C-HR and the Kia Niro. With that economy figure, it’s no wonder Renault isn’t offering a diesel option. There’s no electric version either, but Renault caters for drivers who want an EV with the Megane E-Tech Electric crossover.

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 and a heavy battery. For comparison, the bigger Hyundai Tucson hybrid has 227bhp, and consequently feels far more sprightly.

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The automatic gearbox is also unconvincing because it feels like it spends too long engaging the appropriate gear. The suspension feels firm but not uncomfortable, although the Mazda CX-30 does a better job of offering a sporty feel without becoming unsettled, while the Citroen C4 has a far smoother ride.

Inside, the Arkana feels very similar to the Captur and Clio, which shouldn’t irk buyers even considering it’s a more upmarket model. An impressive 9.3-inch touchscreen is fitted on higher spec versions, 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 Austral, 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. On paper fuel efficiency and practicality are more impressive, and Renault's usually generous pricing and finance offers, plus a five-year warranty adds some lustre to the ownership experience.

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Renault announced a facelift for the Arkana in mid-2023 to keep it on top of its game, and the facelifted cars themselves started to arrive in UK dealers towards the end of the same year.

The facelifted Arkana gets a new grille design, which also varies in finish depending on the trim level. There’s also a new aerodynamic ‘blade’ style lower grille surround in a nod towards Formula 1 cars, shared with the Renault Austral SUV and latest Clio facelift. The refresh is finished off with updated LED headlights and Renault’s latest design of badges.

Trim levels changed slightly, with Evolution, Techno and E-Tech Engineered becoming Evolution, Techno and Esprit Alpine. Evolution gets Renault’s ‘Easy Link’ seven-inch touchscreen as standard, with Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay, but a reworking of the interface means information now spans a larger area than before. There are also electrically adjustable heated door mirrors, autonomous emergency braking tech, reversing camera and parking sensors, plus automatic rain-sensing wipers.

Techno gets a body-coloured version of the blade front design element and different 18-inch alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors, auto-hold function for the electronic parking brake, larger 10-inch driver information display and 9.3-inch central screen, interior ambient lighting colours, rear armrest with cupholders and faux leather upholstery. 

The new flagship Esprit Alpine gets bigger 19-inch alloys, a rear spoiler and a matte grey finish for its exterior trim, plus dual-exit exhaust tips. It also features heated, and powered front seats, a heated steering wheel, a frameless auto-dimming rear-view mirror, faux leather and suede upholstery and adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go and lane centring assist.

Colours include Glacier White, Pearl White, Metallic Grey, Metallic Black, Flame Red, Zanzibar Red and an all-new Midnight Blue shade.

Just the one 143bhp 1.6-litre E-Tech hybrid powertrain is offered, mated to a standard-fit automatic gearbox. According to Renault, the latest Arkana can run for up to 80% of the time on electric power alone around town, and return up to an official 60.1mpg while emitting from as little as 105g/km of CO2.

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Which Is Best?

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.3 TCe Mild Hybrid 140 Iconic 5dr EDC
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £25,550

Most Economical

  • Name
    1.6 E-Tech FHEV 145 Evolution 5dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £26,065

Fastest

  • Name
    1.3 TCe Mild Hybrid 140 Iconic 5dr EDC
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £25,550
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