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First Drive

First Drive: Renault Arkana

The story: Renault describes the Arkana as a coupe-SUV that is the beginning of its new C-segment offensive, ahead of a new electric Megane next year.
Key rival:Cupra Formentor
Efficiency:56.5 mpg
On sale:Now

Renault’s first foray into the coupe-SUV-crossover niche-within-a-niche is a car designed around the key words of sporty, spacious and hybrid, according to the French brand.

Described as the beginning of a new C-segment offensive, the Arkana is Renault’s first coupe-styled SUV and launches with hybrid or petrol power, the latter of which gets a minor efficiency boost from its mild hybrid tech.

But it’s the full hybrid (although it’s not a plug-in) that will be of interest to the fleets that will account for 35% of Arkana sales (the rest comprise 40% retail and 25% Motability). As already depolyed in the Clio, it combines 1.6-litre engine with an electric motor capable of powering the car in isolation for short periods for a total of 145hp, and offers emissions kicking off at 108g/km, rising to 112g/km on the top-spec RS Line driven here, which is expected to be the most popular trim level.

The Arkana is slightly lower and longer than the Kadjar crossover, making it the longest SUV in Renault’s range now the Koleos is no longer offered.

First Drive - August 2021 - Renault Arkana - Image 2That sloping roof certainly has an impact on rear headroom, although it’s still reasonable for bigger adults. The boot is big too, at 480 litres for the hybrid and 513 for the 140hp petrol model, which doesn’t have to house the hybrid’s batteries.

Renault’s hybrid system works well in switching between powertrains without fuss, and the engine is quiet and refined unless you push it hard. On the move, there is some wind and road noise, although that is amplified by the refinement of the mechanical bits. Considering it packs 145hp, the Arkana feels rapid, and the hybrid system’s presence is made obvious by the initial push of acceleration.

The cabin is neat, with nice materials and design, while the latest 9.3-inch touchscreen system is fitted as standard on all bar the entry model.

First Drive - August 2021 - Renault Arkana - Image 6There aren’t many direct rivals to compare the Arkana with. It’s slightly more expensive, longer and much more efficient, but less practical than its Renault Kadjar crossover sibling, and the hybrid Toyota C-HR is the logical rival model. More powerful than the 122hp C-HR, the Arkana is slightly larger and slightly cheaper, and matches the Japanese model for emissions.


paul barker



The verdict

Neat-looking, efficient thanks to its hybrid powertrain, and tidy to drive.