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Expert Review

Renault Arkana SUV (2021 - ) review

The Renault Arkana is a stylish, coupe-inspired twist on the crossover norm with style aplenty and a choice of hybrid engines

The Auto Trader expert verdict:

3.5

Available new from £26,395

The mash-up of coupe-inspired styling and SUV stance is a popular format in the premium sector, with the likes of the BMW X4, Audi Q5 Sportback and Mercedes GLC Coupe all putting a sleeker spin on their boxier, more conventional relatives. Renault is now doing the same for compact crossovers, the new Arkana sharing its basis with the popular Captur to combine a chunky, high-riding stance with a sportier roofline. Though there’s no plug-in option as there is on the Captur the Arkana offers mild and full hybrid versions, the latter under Renault’s E-Tech branding.

Reasons to buy:

  • tickBest infotainment system for the price
  • tickUnusual looks
  • tickEasy to drive

At a glance:

Running costs for a Renault Arkana

It feels like a great buy, given it offers even more space than the popular Captur on which it is based
I’ve always loved Renaults and the brand feels very family friendly, humble and good value for money. The Arkana is no exception and with prices starting at £25,000 for this large family car it feels like a great buy, given it offers even more space than the popular Captur on which it is based. Be warned, though, you have to step up to the mid-range S Edition to get the larger infotainment screen, which makes all the difference to the value you feel you are getting for the money spent, and transforms the experience in this car. For the cheapest running costs go for the E-Tech hybrid version, which uses a version of the battery assistance featured on the Clio E-Tech Hybrid we recently ran on long-term test. It helps with efficiency and CO2 figures but not by as much as some company drivers might like, so if you really want to save on Benefit In Kind and other tax costs you’re better off with the Captur E-Tech, which is available as a plug-in.
Expert rating: 4/5

Reliability of a Renault Arkana

Renault came 10th out of 29 brands for reliability in Warranty Wise’s 2020 report, so worry no more
Popular opinion suggests reliability of French cars remains a concern but the data doesn’t support that view any more. Peugeot, for example, has recently been ranking above Volkswagen in many of the reliability and consumer satisfaction surveys while Renault came 10th out of 29 brands for reliability in Warranty Wise’s 2020 report, so worry no more. The Arkana is the first SUV to be built form the ground up as a hybrid, so we’ll see how things go, but the technology has been rolled out across other models, such as the Clio, and all seems well so far.
Expert rating: 4/5

Safety for a Renault Arkana

Step up to the mid S Edition version and you get everything you need
The tall seating position gives great visibility of the road ahead in congested areas, and there is a good level of standard safety kit for all cars, including active emergency braking, traffic-sign recognition, lane-departure warning and lane-keep assistance systems. Step up to the mid S Edition version, and you get everything you need, including an auto hold brake function, blind-spot warning light, active cruise control and rear cross-traffic alert. The latter is a must these days for reversing out of drives onto busy roads or in busy supermarket car parks. The top spec offers hands-free automatic parking for you, but we’ve always quite liked parking our own cars…
Expert rating: 4/5

How comfortable is the Renault Arkana

The rest of the materials and styling feel a little long in the tooth
The downside of those trendy, sloping rooflines is often a lack of headroom but Renault is proud of the fact there is barely any difference here between the Arkana and seemingly much larger Kadjar SUV. However, the rest of the materials and styling feel a little long in the tooth - our test R.S. Line car had a black interior with bog-standard cloth, suede and leather surfaces, whereas the competition is stepping up into technical weaves on its fabrics, as well as vegan ‘leathers’ and wool blends. Here the combination of red stitching on the black suede had a jarring 90s vibe about it.

Features of the Renault Arkana

The vertically-oriented 9.3-inch touch-screen and its easy-to-use menus is one of our favourite systems around
Configurable digital instruments are all the rage these days and rivals like Volkswagen, Hyundai and others all offer their own variations on this theme. The French market, left-hand drive Arkanas we drove included a full-width display that impressed us with bright, clear and fresh-looking graphics, so it’s a disappointment to learn UK models seemingly won’t get this, the fanciest version available here being a smaller central screen with reduced functionality. Renault was at a loss to explain why this might be the case and it’s a shame we don’t get the best the Arkana has to offer here, though saying that the central vertically-oriented 9.3-inch touch-screen with its slick menu system is one of our favourite systems around and makes the upgrade to S Edition worth every penny. CarPlay and Android Auto are standard and all cars have DAB, Bluetooth and USB charging sockets but, again, you have to go for the mid-trim S Edition to get live traffic and weather information, 4G and Google search.
Expert rating: 4/5

Power for a Renault Arkana

The E-Tech is a ‘full’ hybrid and can operate for short distances on electric power alone, though you can’t plug it in to charge
There are two power options: the TCe 140 EDC and the E-Tech 145 Auto, the numbers indicating the power output in horsepower but only telling half the story. The first is what’s known as a mild hybrid, meaning a small electrical boost from a beefed-up starter/generator replacing the alternator to help smooth out the start/stop system. The E-Tech is a ‘full’ hybrid and can operate for short distances on electric power alone, though you can’t plug it in to charge and, at best, you only get a couple of miles at the discretion of the car’s black boxes rather than the 30 or so you get on the plug-in version of the Captur. Best will in the world you’ll rarely make it to the end of your road before the petrol engine fires up but experience of the same system in our Clio long-term test car suggests the electrified boost off the line and improved efficiency are well worth having. Both versions are smooth, with light steering, but in this day and age, for those reasons we’d go for the E-Tech Hybrid.
Expert rating: 3/5

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