In-depth reviews

Renault Arkana review - Engines, performance and drive

The Arkana features efficient petrol-hybrid models, but isn't particularly fun to drive

Given that the Renault Arkana shares parts with the comfortable Captur, we expected it to be smooth, but that wasn’t the case in our initial test drives. The large 18-inch alloys proved to be a detriment to the ride, crashing into potholes and drain covers and resulting in an unpleasant driving experience. Even on stretches of road without potholes, the Arkana tended to shimmy and shake where its rivals such as the Toyota C-HR are comfy and smooth.

Sometimes we’ll put up with stiff suspension and a bumpy ride if the car is designed to be sporty and is fun to drive. Yet despite the coupe-like looks, the Arkana isn’t sporty to drive at all - the steering is numb and the body rolls in corners because of the high ride height. Sadly, this means it’s not much fun on urban or rural roads.

The Arkana isn’t even a great option for motorways because there’s quite a bit of wind and road noise. However, the engine settles down at speed and is quiet and smooth, plus the auto gearbox means it’s pretty easy to drive. Adaptive cruise control on mid-spec models and up is useful for long trips, too.

Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed

There are two engine options, the first being a 1.3-litre petrol unit with mild-hybrid assistance. This motor has 138bhp and 260Nm of torque, though the starter-generator can add an extra 20Nm when possible. This is mainly used to reduce emissions rather than for performance.

It offers quiet performance at low revs, but if you want to accelerate quickly you need to rev it harder, and when you do this it can sound quite strained. It’s not helped by the automatic gearbox, which isn’t responsive enough. 0-62mph is reached in 9.8 seconds, which is a second faster than the E-Tech hybrid model.

The hybrid version uses a 1.6-litre petrol engine along with an electric motor, resulting in 140bhp. Torque is split between the engine and motor - the former has 148Nm and the latter has 250Nm. This version uses an auto gearbox as well, though it’s not the same dual-clutch unit as in the petrol model - it’s a different box designed to work with the hybrid powertrain. We found the six-speed automatic a little sluggish, and it wasn't particularly smooth when transitioning from electric power to engine propulsion.

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