Bringing more style and a dynamic design to Renault's SUV range, the Arkana is something new for the French brand. It follows a now-popular trend of creating an SUV with a sloping roofline to entice buyers who fancy something that looks sportier. It's on sale in Ireland now.
In the Metal:
There are only so many ways that you can add a coupe-like profile to a high-riding SUV, and the Renault Arkana pulls it off with a design that is less fussy than some of the others. The front is the most identifiable aspect of the design that follows the Renault look seen in other models like the Megane and Kadjar. It becomes a bit more anonymous when you see it from the side and the rear, though Renault's prominent badging means those driving behind will get to know the Arkana name.
What you're looking at here is the Renault Arkana's highest specification, called RS Line. Of the trio available this is the most distinctive due to its unique front bumper and 18-inch 'Silverstone' alloy wheels. RS Line badging on the front wings and contrasting black door mirrors also feature.
The RS Line specification also adds to the interior. Most obvious is the black leather and suede-effect upholstery with contrasting red stitching that extends into the seatbelts. Small RS logo tags on the sides of the front seats are similar to how Volvo adds small Swedish flags to its seats - and that's no bad thing.
A 9.3-inch portrait-style touchscreen display at the centre is positioned up high and is much slicker to use than the previous generation of Renault software. Phone mirroring is possible and there are two USB charge ports in the front as well.
In the E-Tech Hybrid version of the Arkana, a 94hp 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine is augmented by an electric motor, the latter powered by a modest 1.2kWh battery. The result is a combined maximum power output of 142hp and an official combined fuel consumption figure of 5.0 litres/100km.
If you stick to typical town and city driving, then you'll appreciate the smoothness and general refinement of the Arkana. It gives the best performance when it isn't being hurried along, which is something of a paradox for an SUV with sporty styling. Keep the momentum up and getting from A to B is a relatively relaxing experience.
If you press the engine into more strenuous action the result is one that may be familiar to existing hybrid owners. The revs rise, but not a great deal else happens. This became more evident when tackling more hilly terrain during our test route where the 1.6-litre engine ended up sounding strained and the automatic transmission was at times confused as to what to be doing.
This is a car that does its best work on the slower, flatter stuff. The constant hunt for energy recovery means that the Arkana doesn't quite sail along, but nor is it the one-pedal driving experience that you'll find with an electric car.
What you get for your Money:
The Renault Arkana has a starting price of €28,990 in Ireland and there are three specification grades to choose from: Iconic, S-Edition and the RS Line. Standard equipment on the Iconic specification includes 17-inch wheels, a seven-inch infotainment system, keyless entry and automatic climate control.
Mid-level S-Edition models start at €31,090 and gain 18-inch wheels, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beam headlights, a 9.3-inch touchscreen display and rear cross traffic alert. The range-topping RS Line costs from €33,690 and gains different exterior styling, unique 18-inch wheels, front and rear parking sensors and heated front seats.
The attractive styling of the Renault Arkana will appeal to buyers keen to have an SUV that isn't so boxy. A nicer interior (in the RS Line at least) is an improvement on Renault's past exploits and when tackling the easier day-to-day stuff it puts in a good performance that should give more frugal drivers rewarding fuel economy figures.