Renault Arkana E-TECH Hybrid review

Renault's hybrid-engined coupe-SUV may not have the performance to match its sporty styling, but it's well equipped and returns fuel economy to rival the best diesels

Renault Arkana
Overall rating

3.5 out of 5

Pros

  • Styling
  • Fuel economy
  • Standard equipment

Cons

  • Engine noise
  • Transmission
  • Not very quick
Car typeFuel economyCO2 emissions0-62mph
Hybrid56mpg109g/km10.8s

These days, whenever a carmaker launches a new SUV, it’s almost inevitable that a coupe version will follow: just look at the BMW X4, Mercedes GLC Coupe and Audi's Sportbacks, for example. The pattern extends to electric cars, like the Volvo C40 and Volkswagen ID.5, too.

However, these are pretty expensive upmarket models, which is where Renault comes in with the Arkana: a sleek and stylish sibling to the more conventional Captur that costs from around £28,000 in full-hybrid from.

The range kicks off with a petrol-engined variant packing a 12-volt mild-hybrid system, but it’s E-TECH full-hybrid version we're concentrating on here – the one Renault expects to make up two-thirds of sales. Under the coupe-esque body is the same full-hybrid powertrain also available in the Captur and Clio.

It comprises a 1.6-litre petrol engine and two electric motors, with power sent to the front wheels through a six-speed clutchless transmission. Like all full hybrids, the Arkana E-TECH doesn’t need to be plugged in; instead, the energy to top up its small battery is gathered by the regenerative braking system.

The larger of the two motors is used for starting off in zero-emissions mode, while the second provides additional boost on the go. This system certainly pays dividends: at the end of our test drive, which featured stretches of dual-carriageway, bursts of twisty country lanes and sitting in town traffic, the Arkana reported 42mpg economy. And that would increase with more driving in town, where there are more opportunities to proceed on battery power alone.

But while its fuel economy is good, the Arkana's performance is sluggish, despite what its styling suggests. The E-TECH engine produces just 143bhp and takes 10.8 seconds to accelerate the car from 0-62mph. While this is a relatively smooth experience, the transmission takes its sweet time changing gear, leaving you stuck with the roar of the engine working overtime; there are no paddles on the wheel to shift gears yourself.

The Arkana’s handling also isn’t as sharp as you might expect from a car styled like a BMW X4. Instead, covering miles is a more comfortable affair than you might think, making this a great solution for those who want rakish looks without the firm and sporty suspension that often goes with them. On the downside, the cabin can get noisy at speed and the engine's droning when you push it hard dispels any sense of serenity.

Thankfully, if you go for the sportier Arkana over the boxier Captur, you don’t lose much practicality. There’s a 480-litre boot and rear headroom is good for a car with such a sweeping roofline, although kneeroom is lacking a bit in the back.

Staying inside, the Arkana’s cabin is plush and crammed with technology, with all but entry-level Evolution trim featuring the same 9.3-inch infotainment touchscreen as the brand’s ZOE electric supermini. It’s not the slickest unit on the market, and some may find trying to hit icons on the tablet-like touchscreen difficult while on the move, but overall it won’t infuriate you. The Arkana also comes as standard with LED headlights and a comprehensive list of safety kit, including traffic-sign recognition, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist and safety distance warning.

Overall, it's an appealing package that combines coupe styling with effortless hybrid fuel economy and a well finished, well equipped cabin – plus a comfortable ride for those who don’t want the firm suspension that often comes with a car looking like this. However, the rakish Renault’s underwhelming performance, powertrain and refinement may be what turns potential buyers onto its rivals. For a more in-depth look at the Arkana, read on for the rest of our review...

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