What Is It?
This is the Renault Arkana, a grand-looking coupe-SUV that is designed to imitate much larger and more expensive vehicles of the same type – such as the BMW X4 – for a far lower price. Renault itself positions the Arkana as the flagship of its three crossover-SUV ranges, but oddly enough, it’s not based on the larger Kadjar model but the smaller Captur. Nevertheless, it stands out because there are few direct rivals to it at its price point; if you were interested in alternatives to the Arkana of the same sort of money and power, then the Mazda CX-30, Toyota C-HR and even the Citroen C4 could all be considered as options.
What’s Good About It?
Renault’s current corporate styling cues make for attractive cars and the Arkana is no exception to this rule. With its C-shaped headlights, a full-width light bar at the back and that swooping roofline, this is the only outright coupe-SUV at this sort of money. Rivals, such as the Toyota C-HR and Mazda CX-30, look more upright and ‘conventional’ than the Renault Arkana does.
The interior is very high quality, with lots of nice materials used, a good, simple-to-use layout and plenty of technology. On the mid-grade Techno and higher cars, the central infotainment screen is enlarged from seven inches in the base-spec Evolution models to 9.3 inches here. Techno Arkana models have a large 10-inch digital instrument cluster, too.
The Arkana is available in 7 colours with several interior options for those who like to customise, read our Renault Arkana colour guide for more details.
What Could Be Better?
There are two powertrains, the upper of which is badged ‘E-Tech Hybrid’ and has an advanced automatic gearbox that gets its inspiration from Formula One technology. However, it occasionally makes clunky gear shifts and can be quite noisy under hard acceleration, and therefore it might not be to all tastes – if that’s the case, you’ll be better off looking at the mild-hybrid 1.3-litre TCe model instead.
Also, for a big and luxurious-looking SUV, the Arkana’s ride quality can sometimes be a touch firm, especially in the higher trims on their bigger alloys. It’s never outright uncomfortable, but some competitors do the surface-bump-smothering thing better.
What’s It Like To Drive?
Of the two hybrids, the lower-powered is called the TCe 140 Mild Hybrid (MHEV) and teams a 1.3-litre turbocharged petrol engine with a little bit of electrical assistance, to save fuel. It cannot drive forward on electrical power alone, though – it can only coast with the engine switched off for short periods of time – which means those who want some electric-only driving capability should look at the E-Tech 145 Hybrid. This has a 1.6-litre petrol engine and stronger hybrid gear including a small lithium-ion battery pack, meaning it can be driven on electric power only for short periods.
No Arkana is especially quick, but in truth, it’s a car much more suited to leisurely driving than ‘enthusiastic’, despite the pretensions of the sporty coupe body. It’s suitably refined and comfortable in most respects.
It is also an easy car to steer and position on the road, and – despite the sloping rear screen – visibility out in all directions is not too bad at all when you’re driving it. So you don’t have to make a lot of compromises in having the Arkana’s rakish-looking body.
How Practical Is It?
Considering it is based on the smaller Captur crossover and not the Kadjar, the Renault Arkana is a surprisingly spacious vehicle. This is because its external dimensions are big – it is more than 4.5 metres long, when most of its rivals are considerably shorter, and it has a longer wheelbase than anything else remotely comparable. This means rear legroom is pretty generous, while headroom in the back is admirable, especially considering the ‘coupe-like’ roofline at the back. Very tall people might find it restrictive, though.
The more powerful hybrid version has to sacrifice some boot space due to the packaging of various electrical items. So, whereas the TCe 140 MHEV has a 513-litre boot, and up to 1296 litres if you fold down the second row, the E-Tech 145 Hybrid has equivalent numbers of 480- and 1263 litres. However, in either case, the Arkana has a larger cargo area than pretty much anything else you might be considering, this side of a Hyundai Tucson.
In terms of cabin storage, the Arkana is perfectly fine – there are the usual stowage spaces and cubbies dotted about the interior, while the door pockets are acceptable if not incredibly deep.
How Much Will It Cost Me?
Prices start at less than £30,000 for the Evolution and Techno editions of the TCe 140 MHEV, meaning we can get you into an Arkana for around £350pcm.
They should be efficient cars to run, too. The E-Tech Hybrid will be the cheapest on the wallets of both private and business users, given it has low CO2 outputs of 108-109g/km and a combined economy figure of 58.9mpg. But the TCe 140 won’t break the bank either, emitting 130-132g/km depending on its trim grade and recording an official 48.7mpg average economy. These figures are believable, too – we spent a week and 310 miles with an Arkana E-Tech and it easily achieved an overall 56.4mpg during that period.
There are three specifications for the Renault Arkana TCe 140 MHEV, which run Evolution, Techno and R.S. Line. The E-Tech 145 Hybrid, meanwhile, is sold in the first 2 of these specifications, but then has its own top trim grade (instead of R.S. Line) called ‘E-Tech Engineered.
Base cars are fairly well stocked, with essentials like 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control and a speed limiter, parking sensors at both ends of the car and a rear-view camera too, keyless entry and start, climate control, and a whole host of useful advanced driver assist safety (ADAS) systems. Stepping up to Techno brings the fancier interior digital displays (9.3-inch portrait for the dashboard infotainment and 10-inch cluster in front of the driver), as well as luxuries such as adaptive cruise control, while the R.S. Line is essentially a sporty styling exercise, inside and out. The E-Tech Engineered has much the same kit as the R.S. Line, but without the bolder exterior body kit and with gold stitching inside, where the R.S. Line has red details.
Anything Else I Should Know?
The Renault Arkana nameplate was actually on sale in Russia for 2 years before the vehicle launched here in the UK.
What Alternatives Should I Look At?
More of a chunky family hatchback than a crossover-SUV, but the funky C4 is supremely comfortable to travel in. See how the C4 compares to the Arkana in our dedicated article.
Kind of like a Mazda3 hatchback, only a bit taller and bigger. And that means it’s excellent.
Probably the closest in concept to the Arkana, the Toyota has strong hybrid drivetrains and a great chassis.
The Vanarama Verdict: 7/10
"The Renault Arkana offers stylish looks and a top-notch cabin, complete with lots of snazzy technology and plenty of interior space, at a price that way undercuts similar vehicles like the BMW X4 and Audi Q5 Sportback."
3 Things To Remember About The Renault Arkana:
There’s little else like it at this price level
All models have some form of hybrid system
Don’t expect a lot of power from this coupe-SUV