The Renault Arkana 2021 model is a new hybrid in Renault's range. Officially known as the e-tech hybrid, this version of the Arkana is still based on the CMF-B platform that Renault uses for the Clio V and the Captur II.
Two versions of the Renault Arkana are being made. The first is a turbocharged 1.3-litre petrol engine with a mild hybrid electric support that the petrol engine is turned off when the car is idle.
The other is the e-tech hybrid which features a 1.6-litre petrol engine and full hybrid functionality. It is this version of the Arkana, available from Sep 2021, that is the subject of this review.
To begin with, the e-tech Renault Arkana has a very modest range indeed. It comes equipped with a lowly 1.2 kWh battery which is only powerful enough to provide up to 3 km of range on electric power alone. The point about the small battery compared to many other hybrids is that it is there to help with fuel economy rather than to provide electric-only power.
The design of both the full and the mild-hybrid has been to produce a coupe SUV that uses as little fossil fuel as possible in a range of different driving situations.
As such, you cannot plug the Arkana in to charge it up. instead, every cell in the battery pack is charged via the car's forward motion.
According to Renault, this means the car will produce just 4.8 l per 100 km and 108 g of CO2 per km in ideal conditions.
As most in-depth reviews will point out, this is one of the key selling points of the Arkana, something that thousands of consumers in Asia and continental Europe have already bought into.
As a car that provides a hybrid solution without the need to plug the vehicle into the mains or a charging station, all of the electric costs are covered when your fill up with petrol.
Because of the battery, you will necessarily consume less fuel than you otherwise would do but this makes it very difficult to make a direct comparison with full PHEVs in its class.
What is important to note, however, is that the benefit in kind rate you get with the Arkana is set at 26 per cent. For comparison's sake, the Renault Captur PHEV is 11 per cent.
What's more, the insurance groups the car occupies are 14 and 15. This is low compared to the Toyota C-HR and the Mercedes GLC but if you were to opt for a Kia Niro, you'd expect to fork out less for insurance.
When it comes to the car's warranty, the French carmaker provides a warranty package for up to 3 years from date of first registration with unlimited mileage during the first 24 months, then limited to a total of 60,000 miles (100,00 miles for 100% electric vehicles) or 3 years whichever comes first. The recommended service interval for the Arkana has yet to be confirmed, however, so buyers should be aware of some potential ongoing costs in this area.
You can buy the car with a three-year service plan, however, at a cost of £500. Road tax for a new Renault Arkana is £145.
Considering that the Arkana can offer an economy rate of 58.9 miles per gallon, few people will worry about how nippy it is. However, given the sloping roof design of the SUV coupe-style, you might expect this model to be reasonably fast out of the blocks.
Renault's design, however, feels like you are never getting anywhere even when you floor it. The 0-62mph offered by the model is a sluggish 10.8 seconds. Even worse, the ride makes you feel every one of those seconds.
The top speed does not compare favourably to other cars in its class, either. The model tops out at 107 mph while a BMW X4 xDrive30i, by comparison, will get to 146 mph. It can achieve 0-62mph in just 6.6 seconds.
Nevertheless, Renault claims the Arkana is not really in the same bracket as such prestigious SUVs. This is more of an entry level model and its performance is reflected in the price.
This model pulls away well in its electrical mode, something that city dwellers will appreciate. However, when the petrol engine kicks in, it feels somewhat unrefined.
You do get three driving modes to play with, however, Eco, Sport and MySense. The B mode button allows you to adjust the level of the car's regenerative braking system. This means you can maximise efficient driving whether you are in rush hour traffic in the city or enjoying an open stretch of motorway.
Like a number of other SUVs, the sloping rear of the Arkana's design is what gives it its sporty appearance. There are three trim levels to choose from with the model, the entry-level iconic as well as the S Edition and the RS Line.
The top trim level looks great and provides you with adaptive cruise control. 18-inch alloys come as standard but the RS Line also offers chrome exhausts.
As many reviews of Renault's exterior styling point out, the Arkana comes with LED headlights as standard. What's more, the Arkana has a high ground clearance so it feels like a genuine SUV even though it has a swept-back look.
The e-tech hybrid version of the Arkana has rotary dials and buttons on offer so not everything is run from the car's 9.3-inch touchscreen. The auto provides a seven-inch driver display behind the wheel which is well laid out.
Auto heated sports seats are on offer but only with the RS Line trim. Helpfully, the coupe design does not mean the rear seats feel like they lack headroom. However, as many reviews state, the legroom is a bit cramped in the back.
In the rear, the boot is quite spacious for cars of this class. The SUV provides 480 litres of storage room in the boot, more than enough for most family trips and in excess of what the Captur offers.
In terms of infotainment, there is a menu based touchscreen system. You can connect this to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto if you subscribe to those services. Air vents and USB chargers are provided in the rear. You can fold the back seats down, too, if wanted.
When the Arkana was tested by Euro NCAP for safety in 2019, it was awarded a five-star rating. The Arkana scored most highly for the safety of adult occupants while child passenger safety also scored well, especially when occupying the rear seats. Side head airbags are offered in the front and back.
Owners can expect speed and lane assistance as standard plus a raft of auto-braking systems that will slow the car's wheels down when pedestrians, cyclists and other road users are detected.
Isofix connections are available in the car's passenger seat and the back.
The French styling of the Arkana means that - at first glance - it looks like a more expensive car than it is. The styling has more in common with cars made by Mercedes or BMW than other Renault models, such as a Captur, for example.
It is not all about price, however, because the Arkana does let owners down with its ride and the auto gearbox which never feel first-rate.
Nevertheless, the £26,000 asking price for an Arkana will catch many people's attention. At this price, way beneath that of some of its competitors, some of the Arkana's relatively minor shortcomings will be easy to overlook.
This is especially so when the low running costs of the model are taken into account, as well. By comparison, however, the £30,900 that Renault is asking for the RS Line maybe a little more than the UK market will bear.
That said, you will get a traffic sign recognition function with that version of the car, so the extra money doesn't all go on interior trim.