In-depth reviews

Renault Arkana SUV - Engines, drive & performance

The Arkana isn’t quick but it is reasonably good to drive

Carbuyer Rating

3.9 out of 5

Engines, drive & performance Rating

3.0 out of 5

Such a svelte shape might give you the impression that the Arkana is going to be quick but that’s not the case. Efficiency is higher on the priority list than driver thrills, as is the case with many hybrids. The hybrid’s powertrain is very smooth but it’d be even more refined if the engine didn’t have to strain to move the chunky SUV body. It’s quiet the rest of the time and feels at its best when driving at lower speeds.

The driving experience is decent rather than exciting. Most buyers won’t have any complaints with the handling, as it remains fairly composed unless you really push it, but the ride is rather firm for a family-focused SUV. Renault has given the car a stiffer setup than some of its other models, perhaps in an attempt to inject a sporty feel, but it hasn't been a huge success. The Mazda CX-30 and Ford Puma are more fun to drive, without feeling overly sharp when you hit a bump. The range-topping RS Line throws all the sporty styling cues in, including 18-inch alloy wheels and a sharp bumper design, but it won’t make the Arkana feel more dynamic from behind the wheel.

Renault Arkana hybrid engine

Likely to be the most popular choice, the Renault Arkana E-Tech uses a 1.6-litre petrol engine mated to two small electric motors. Total output is 140bhp - plenty for a car the size and weight of a Clio but not quite enough for a larger SUV - and the 10.8-second 0-62mph time is rather leisurely. It’ll keep up with traffic in most cases and a top speed of 107mph means that motorway cruising shouldn’t seem too strained.

Petrol engine

The other choice is a 1.3-litre petrol engine with a small 12-volt mild-hybrid system to supplement the petrol engine. It’s 2bhp down on the hybrid with 138bhp but weighs less and has a quicker 0-62mph time of 9.8 seconds as a result.

While this looks pretty good on paper, the reality is that the engine has to be worked quite hard just to keep the Arkana up to speed with normal traffic, and it sounds rather coarse at medium revs. Try to pick up the pace and the seven-speed automatic gearbox also feels out of its element, so you aren't quite sure how much acceleration will be available when pulling out of a junction or overtaking slower traffic.

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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