In-depth reviews

Renault Arkana E-TECH Hybrid review

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

Overall rating

4.0 out of 5

Pros

  • Styling
  • Fuel economy
  • Standard equipment

Cons

  • Engine noise
  • Not very quick
  • Slightly firm suspension
Car typeFuel economyCO2 emissions0-62mph
Hybrid56mpg108g/km10.8s

The coupe-SUV bodystyle has surged in popularity in recent years thanks to the BMW X4, Mercedes GLC Coupe, Polestar 2 and Audi’s Sportbacks. But all those examples are pretty expensive, and this is where Renault comes in with the Arkana. It's a more stylish sister car to the French brand’s conventional Captur and Kadjar family SUVs. 

The Arkana range kicks off with a petrol-engined variant that packs a 12-volt mild-hybrid system, but we’ve tested the E-TECH full-hybrid version that Renault expects will make up two-thirds of Arkana sales.

Under that coupe-esque body work is the same full-hybrid E-TECH powertrain also available in the latest Captur, and the Clio supermini we’ve previously tested. The Arkana E-TECH uses a 1.6-litre petrol engine and two electric motors with the power sent to the front wheels via a six-speed clutchless transmission. Like all full-hybrids, the Arkana E-TECH doesn’t need to be plugged in; instead, the energy for the electric motors is gathered by the regenerative braking system.

The larger of the two electric motors is used for kicking off driving in zero-emissions mode, while the second provides additional boost when you’re on the go. This system certainly pays dividends: on our test drive, which featured long stretches of nothing but A-road and country lanes, we saw the Arkana return 53mpg. And we think that figure would increase if you did more driving in town, where there’s more opportunity to drive on battery power. 

While its fuel economy may be stellar, the Arkana's performance is sluggish, despite what its styling may suggest. The E-TECH produces just 143bhp and takes 10.8 seconds to accelerate from 0-62mph. While doing so is a relatively smooth experience, the roar of the engine working hard to shift the heavy coupe-SUV around breaks the illusion of serenity.

The Arkana’s handling also isn’t as sharp as you might expect from a car styled to match the BMW X4, but it’s still fairly decent to drive. The suspension does feel slightly firmer than Renault’s other new models, but it’s still comfortable, aside from some slight jiggling at low speeds. And, apart from the engine droning when you push it, the Arkana is also quiet. 

Thankfully, if you go for the sportier Arkana over the boxier Captur, you don’t lose much in terms of practicality. There’s a 480-litre boot and rear legroom is similar to what you’ll find in Renault’s larger Kadjar SUV – although headroom in Arkana is tighter.

Staying inside, the Arkana’s cabin is plush and crammed with technology, with all but the base Iconic model featuring a 9.3-inch infotainment touchscreen that's slick, easy to use, and loads quickly, making it arguably one of the best you’ll find outside of the more premium brands. Entry-level cars feature a seven-inch unit, but do get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity.

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 assistance and safety distance warning – all of which contributed to its five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.

The Arkana is available to order now, with deliveries expected to begin in August 2021 and prices starting at £25,300 for the mild-hybrid variant and £26,300 for this full hybrid. For an extra £2,300, you can upgrade to S Edition trim, however the range-topping R.S. Line – which is expected to be the most popular of the three – starts at £30,900 with the full-hybrid powertrain. This gets 18-inch alloy wheels, a different front bumper design, sports seats and a hands-free parking system.

While the underwhelming performance doesn’t match the Arkana’s sporty looks, it doesn’t mean the Renault is an example of style over substance. The coupe-SUV still offers you plenty of space, a well finished and well equipped cabin, plus exceptional fuel economy, which taken together makes for an appealing package.

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