It is an important model – Renault’s first purpose-built hybrid car. It is also the company’s first SUV with coupe styling, a design promoted by BMW, Audi and others with much success.
So, why have we heard so little of the Arkana? Why is it, as the word arcane suggests, a secret? Perhaps it is not regarded as a proper Renault because this model is built in Korea as part of a deal with Samsung.
It is, in fact, quite a smart car. I’m not a huge fan of coupe-SUVs to be honest. Coupes are fabulous and so are SUVs. But if you combine an SUV with a coupe, you rob it of headroom in the back, which seems to me to be a little pointless.
Maybe I’m out of fashion but I maintain the best SUVs have good headroom for all occupants, not just those in the front.
Arkana tested here is a hybrid with a 1.6 litre petrol engine and an electric motor. The test model, with a few extras aboard, costs just under £30,000 and is a decent car. The ride is excellent, the equipment level admirable and it is recognisable as a Renault, which is a good thing.
Arkana is powered either exclusively by electrified powertrains: an advanced E-Tech hybrid and an efficient new TCe 140 mild-hybrid. Arkana E-Tech hybrid produces 145bhp, while returning up to 58.9mpg, and produces as little as 108g/km in emissions. Those are decent figures which stack up well.
Both powertrains exclusively use smooth and responsive automatic transmissions for a refined ride.
Arkana has a simple range line-up with Iconic, S Edition and R.S. Line specifications to choose from, with both powertrain options available for each. All models boast striking designs with distinctive features, with the sportier R.S. Line specification offering sporty details.
Inside, it has a range if hi-tech features with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity plus touchscreen infotainment systems are available, including a 9.3in portrait touchscreen and over-the-air software updates.
It is a spacious car, even allowing for the sloping back. There is up to 513 litres of boot space on offer, with generous rear seat space with no compromise.
Arkana was awarded a five-star crash safety rating by Euro NCAP, bolstered by a suite of the latest advanced systems. All models feature Active Emergency Braking System, Traffic Sign Recognition, Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keep Assist.
Now even though Arkana is a joint venture model it slots well into Renault’s range of eye-catching SUVs alongside the Captur and Kadjar. Renault say it has an athletic stance with good road presence and it’s hard to argue with that.
Renaults are usually good-looking cars and this one is no different. It features distinctive 100 per cent Renault LED Pure Vision lighting complemented by signature C-shape LED daytime running lights, which gives an instantly recognisable profile from the front.
Lower down, skid plates offer an added touch of SUV ruggedness both at the front and the rear, finished in dark grey on Iconic, grey on S Edition and gun metal on R.S. Line models to offer unique designs across the three distinct Arkana specifications.
All versions feature diamond-cut alloy wheels as standard, ranging from 17in ‘Bahamas’ wheels on Iconic to 18in ‘Pasadena’ on S Edition and 18in ‘Silverstone’ wheels for the range-topping R.S. Line with red spoke detail for a sporty look.
Tinted windows and black lower door protection round off the design on all models, enhancing the side profile with a sporty look and either chrome or gun metal inserts, depending on the trim level, while chrome exterior trim details on S Edition add greater sophistication.
The S-Edition tested here is smart enough but the R.S. Line is the one I would choose with a range of muscular additions include a front bumper with a Formula One-style horizontal front blade that stretches the full width, finished in gun metal, with honeycomb grille and gun metal skid plates.
R.S. Line badges denote the sportier model on the Arkana’s wings, while gloss black door mirrors and window trim also ensure it stands out as the most dynamic model in the line-up along with the black lower door protection with gun metal insert. At the rear, R.S. Line models also feature matching gun metal skid plates.
A distinctive rear 3D LED lighting signature is standard across all Arkana specifications, with a light bar stretching across the tailgate. It gives the Arkana a signature look from the rear.
S Edition and R.S. Line models can also be enhanced with an optional contrasting black roof.
The interior is attractive. The raised SUV ride height means access is easy to a spacious cabin that’s cleverly disguised behind the Arkana’s sleek body. The front offers generous accommodation for the driver and front passenger, while the rear seats have been positioned to maximise the amount of head and legroom for even the tallest occupants. For those using the Arkana as a family car, the raised height makes accessing child seats easier, and the view out for all is unrivalled for a car with coupe styling.
The central stack housing the “infotainment” screen, piano key-style buttons and heating controls are easy to operate, well placed and finished in quality materials.
Arkana S Edition and R.S. Line models also feature a choice of eight ambient lighting colours to bring added vibrance to the interior, with illuminated strips along the doors and dashboard panel that can be changed.
Renault’s E-Tech hybrid powertrain technology has been extensively developed with knowledge and expertise gained from Renault’s experience in Formula One, with 150 patents protecting the innovative technology. Following introductions in the Clio, Captur and Megane, the Arkana is the first Renault vehicle to be available exclusively with hybrid technology, designed as a hybrid from the start.
The E-Tech hybrid powertrain combines a 1.6-litre petrol engine with a 1.2 kWh lithium-ion battery and two electric motors, which combined, produces 145hp, 148Nm of torque from the 1.6-litre petrol engine and 250Nm of torque from the electric motors. This version of the Arkana will go from 0-62mph in 10.8 seconds.
This is a decent package, a stylish coupe-SUV at a good price.
Renault Arkana S-Edition E-Tech hybrid
Price: £28,600. Price as tested £29,800 with metallic paint (£650), black roof (£300) and space saver spare wheel (£250). Range starts at £25,300
Engine: A 1,598cc engine plus electric motor
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Performance: Top speed 107mph, 0 to 60mph in 10.8 seconds
Economy: 58.9mpg combined
Insurance: Group 16
Warranty: Five years, 100,000 miles