Renault Arkana review: A fuel-efficient hybrid SUV with coupe styling
The Renault Arkana is a coupe-SUV, but it lacks much substance to go with that style
The Renault Arkana succeeds in offering the trendy coupe-SUV look without a premium price tag or compromising on practicality too much. The Arkana misses the mark in several key areas, however, with both the interior design and driving experience failing to impress us. The latter is thanks in no small part to the underpowered and easily flummoxed full-hybrid E-Tech powertrain that’s now the only engine option. Ultimately, the Renault Arkana has some positive attributes, but we expect better, and so should you.
About the Renault Arkana
Introduced in Russia in 2019 before making its way over onto UK shores two years later, the Arkana is one of the more recent additions to Renault’s line-up and the brand’s first attempt at breaking into the niche coupe-SUV market. It’s based on the same underpinnings as the Renault Captur crossover, but the Arkana is larger, and the coupe-like roofline means it may appeal to more style-conscious buyers.
Of course, the Renault Arkana is hardly the only car on the market hoping to crack this demographic, with key rivals including the new Toyota C-HR, Peugeot 408 and Cupra Formentor. The futuristic-looking Hyundai Kona – our 2023 Car of the Year – also has the style to make a statement, while the Citroen C4 X is another SUV-flavoured French model with a sloping roofline.
Renault is in the process of overhauling its range, adding all-new models such as the Renault Austral SUV and Renault Rafale coupe, and giving the rest a nip and a tuck so they all share the same visual identity. The Arkana was one of the two models the French firm facelifted in 2023 – the other being the Renault Clio supermini. That said, the styling tweaks to the Arkana were so subtle it’s hard to tell it’s been facelifted at all.
Changes include a new pattern for the coupe-SUV’s front grille, as well as Renault’s redesigned logo. Meanwhile, the tail-lights are now slightly smoked, and the exhaust tips have been given a darker finish. The car hardly struggled to turn heads to begin with though, thanks to the sloping roofline, enormous headlight units and their C-shaped lighting signature, not to mention the sheer size of the thing The Arkana measures nearly 4.6 metres long.
The 138bhp, 1.3-litre petrol engine offered at launch has now been dropped, leaving the E-Tech full-hybrid setup as the only powertrain for the Arkana. It uses a 1.6-litre petrol engine and an electric motor that drives the front wheels, with the e-motor capable of doing so up to 37mph and produces 250Nm on its own. The Arkana E-Tech also features a starter generator to help fire up the engine when needed.
There are three main trim levels: Evolution, Techno, and Esprit Alpine. Standard equipment on the base model includes LED lights, 17-inch alloys, fabric seats, a seven-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while safety kit includes cruise control, traffic sign recognition, lane keep assist and a rear-view camera with parking sensors.
Techno trim adds blind spot warning and front parking sensors, plus a larger 9.3-inch screen and a 10-inch digital driver’s display, 18-inch alloys and wireless charging pad for a smartphone. Esprit Alpine models get a sportier look with dramatic-looking 19-inch alloy wheels, a gunmetal grey “F1 blade” element for the front bumper, suede seats and interior trim, heated front seats and steering wheel, plus adaptive cruise control.
The Renault Arkana continues to undercut many of its rivals, with prices starting from just under £27,000 at the time of writing. The most basic pure-petrol 408 or entry-level C-HR hybrid both start at over £31,000 – about the same money you’d pay for a top-of-the-range Arkana. But it might be worth spending that extra cash to get one of these similarly stylish Arkana rivals, for reasons we’ll get into later.
For an alternative review of the Renault Arkana, visit our sister site carbuyer.co.uk...
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe Renault Arkana is a coupe-SUV, but it lacks much substance to go with that style
- 2Engines, performance and driveThe Arkana fails to excel in any one area on the road, with the easily flummoxed E-Tech hybrid setup not helping matters
- 3MPG, CO2 and running costsEfficient E-Tech hybrid powertrain offers low running costs, and insurance shouldn’t break the bank either
- 4Interior, design and technologyThe Renault Arkana’s interior is a let-down in terms of both design and infotainment
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceThe Renault Arkana has a roomy interior and a big boot, so it’s more practical than it looks
- 6Reliability and safetySafety kit is very good, but Renault failed to impress owners in our most recent Driver Power survey