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
£24,810 - £30,640

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 a new SUV model that slots 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.

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 and Captur.

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 58.9mpg, 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. There’s no electric version either, but Renault caters for drivers who want an EV with the Megane E-Tech Electric crossover.

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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.

The E-Tech 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 E-Tech hybrid model, 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. This contributed to us failing to match Renault’s economy figures on our test drive.

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 RS 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 shouldn’t irk buyers even considering that the range-topping RS Line version costs over £30,000. An impressive 9.3-inch touchscreen is fitted on three of the four 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 range now starts with Evolution trim. Previously called Iconic, this model features plenty of equipment including a rear-view camera, automatic lights and wipers, climate control and a seven-inch touchscreen with phone connectivity. Techno (replacing S Edition) adds the bigger touchscreen, front parking sensors and auto high-beam headlights.

RS Line adds a sportier focus, plus kit like hands-free parking and upgraded seats, which are heated and electrically adjustable in the front. Choose the E-Tech hybrid and the RS Line is effectively replaced by a brand-new ‘E-Tech engineered’ trim level that adds exclusive detailing and gold highlights.

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. 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.

Which Is Best?

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.3 TCe Mild Hybrid 140 Iconic 5dr EDC
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £24,810

Most Economical

  • Name
    1.6 E-TECH Hybrid 145 Iconic 5dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £26,040

Fastest

  • Name
    1.3 TCe Mild Hybrid 140 Iconic 5dr EDC
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £24,810

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