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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

Owners Rating

4.0 out of 5

Read owner reviews
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 and sporty 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 fairly smooth but it’d be even more refined if the engine didn’t have to work so hard to get the chunky SUV back up to speed quite so often. It’s quiet the rest of the time and feels at its best when driving at lower speeds.

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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 upset when you hit a bump.

Renault Arkana hybrid engine

The full-hybrid Renault Arkana E-Tech uses a 1.6-litre petrol engine mated to two small electric motors and is now the sole powertrain choice, with the mild-hybrid no longer available to buy. Total output is 142bhp – 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 situations, though, and a top speed of 107mph means that motorway cruising shouldn’t feel too strained.

Petrol engine

The other choice was a 1.3-litre petrol engine with a small 12-volt mild-hybrid system to supplement the petrol engine, but is no longer available to buy as of spring 2023. It’s 4bhp down on the E-Tech 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 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.

It’s a disappointing experience because the same engine is a bit perkier in the Captur, while that car also rides better than the Arkana. The overall impression is that the Arkana isn’t quite as well-developed as the Captur.

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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
    £26,155

Fastest

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