The Renault Arkana is a sporty-looking compact SUV that is available with pure petrol or petrol-hybrid technology. It is competitively priced, well equipped and also boasts low running costs making it quite the attractive all-rounder.

Renault Arkana side
Renault Arkana rear
Renault Arkana interior

The good

Styling, economy, practicality and on-board tech

The bad

Performance lacks real firepower

Tech Specs

Price from
Combined Fuel up to
0-62 from
10.8 seconds
max speed up to
co2 from

Test Drive

Renault Arkana E-Tech esprit Alpine (2024)

Renault has given its dynamically-styled five-door Arkana a mild makeover and slimmed down the choice of trims and powertrains for would-be buyers.

There are spec levels called Evolution, Techno and esprit Alpine, and it was that range-topping model that we tested, priced at £31,295.

In fairness, the Arkana was already a good-looking car with its clever blend of sporty coupe and practical SUV styling, but designers have added to the appeal with a re-styled Renault badge at the front positioned overlapping the new-look diamond-mesh grille and bonnet. The grille itself is flanked by slimmer lights with distinctive C-shaped daytime running lights.

At the rear, the new badging is just as prominent and the lights have a smoked cover for added effect. Additional design cues include black door mirrors, a sloping roofline, twin tailpipe elements finished in glossy black, an F1 blade esprit Alpine bumper and model-specific 19-inch esprit Alpine alloy wheels.

Moving inside, the interior is upmarket, clutter-free and very well equipped with a wealth of technology to explore. The main focal point is a 9.3-inch infotainment screen with navigation offering access to the likes of the smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, DAB radio, voice recognition, a reversing camera (with parking sensors) and lots more besides.

A clear 10-inch display screen offers all the vital driving data and the climate control functions are operated via three separate dials which is far more convenient than having to navigate endless drop-down touchscreen menus simply to adjust the temperature.

Throughout the cabin, there is eye-catching artificial black leather and suede upholstery which is neatly finished in contrasting blue stitching. This can also be found on the doors, steering wheel and seat belts.

The seats are powered and, along with the steering wheel, can be heated against the winter blues. Getting a comfortable driving position takes a matter of seconds and all dials, controls and readouts are ideally positioned for driver useability.

Renault has dropped the option of a 1.3-litre engine for the Arkana. In fact, there is just one powertrain available which sees a 1.3-litre 145hp petrol engine with two electric motors. The engine generates 148Nm of torque and those motors add a further 250Nm. So, you would imagine with that sort of firepower, the Arkana would be fired out the starting blocks like a cannonball, but that’s not the case as such. It actually takes a somewhat lengthy 10.8 seconds to reach 62mph and maxes out at 107mph. And according to official WLTP-tested figures, the Arkana esprit Alpine version can deliver a combined 57.6mpg with carbon emissions of 110g/km.

The car starts up in EV mode so is very quiet as it pulls away and it remains in electric-only form for about 80 per cent of city driving. The acceleration through the automatic transmission is smooth enough, provided you are gentle with the accelerator. Drive with a heavy right boot and the car puts in quite a vocal protest.

It’s a very composed and confident motorway cruiser eating up the miles with ease and it is also well-balanced with good grip on more testing country lanes. It just seems to lack any dynamic punch which is a shame considering its sporty good looks.

The steering is nicely weighted though with ample driver feedback and comfort levels also impress thanks to the vehicle’s highly effective suspension system that does a very worthy job of ironing out any road undulations.

There are drive modes but these have to be accessed via the touchscreen which is a bit of a chore. These are called My Sense, Eco and Sport and they alter the dynamics of the car a little.

When it comes to practicality, the Arkana has bundles of space up front so even the tallest of drivers will be able to get a comfortable driving position. Back seat passengers do not fare quite so well though with fairly limited legroom, especially if the front seats are pushed well back. And taller rear passengers will find their hair brushing the headlining due to the sloping roof design of the vehicle.

There is ample room in the back for a trio of youngsters and Isofix fixtures to the outer rear seats make light work securing child seats if needed,

The well-sized boot can swallow 480 litres of kit, increasing to 1,263 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat. In addition, there are numerous practical storage compartments scattered throughout the cabin, including a glovebox, front and rear cup holders, some trays, central cubby bin, door pockets, seat back nets, plus USB ports for all occupants.

Driver visibility is good, but not great and that’s down to two factors. Firstly, the trio of large rear headrests that obscure a chunk of the back screen. And secondly, due to the car’s sporty styling it features a sloping roofline design and that results in a fairly narrow rear window.

All in all, the Renault Arkana is a beautifully styled car that’s feature-rich and is very easy to drive. It may lack some real fizz when put to the test but it is an economically-sound car that also delivers impressive day-to-day running costs.

Test Drive

Renault Arkana S-Edition E-TECH Hybrid 145 Auto (2021)

Renault’s first hybrid SUV has arrived and it’s turning plenty of heads thanks to its sleek coupe-styled design and wealth of on-board technology.

It boasts the sort of appearance that is generally sported by the high-end German marques, but this French newcomer brings with it its very own style of chic and flair.

With a rakish roofline and small tinted rear windows, it has a sporty feel, but it’s also spacious and practical inside so ideal for a smaller family. Factor in the chunky wheel arch mouldings, skid plates and chrome tail pipe and there is a hint of SUV muscle in the mix too.

So, it’s a bit of a mixed bag but, in reality, it works really well especially with striking 18-inch diamond cut alloy wheels and full LED headlights with C-shaped daytime running lights to help the Arkana stand out.

Powering the Arkana is a 1.6-litre petrol hybrid E-TECH engine that works with two electric motors to deliver 145hp and 148Nm of torque. And that translates into respectable, if not blistering, performance figures with a 0-62mph sprint time of 10.8 seconds and maximum speed of 107mph.

The vehicle, in mid-range S-Edition trim level, is priced at £28,600 (£29,800 with options) and, according to official figures under WLTP testing, can deliver a combined 58.9mpg with carbon emissions of 109g/km.

The interior is clutter-free and neatly laid out with comfortable fabric and synthetic leather upholstery. The main focal point is a 9.3-inch infotainment screen with navigation, Google search and traffic information. There is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, Bluetooth, a DAB radio and a clear seven-inch driver information display behind the wheel where all the vital driving data is on show.

Although the Arkana is not explosive out the starting blocks, it delivers an accomplished performance with nice acceleration through the six-speed automatic gearbox. There are drive modes called My Sense, Sport and Eco along, with an EV-only button for pure electric driving when there is enough charge.

These modes alter the mannerisms of the front wheel drive car with Sport mode sharpening up the handling quite considerably. The road holding out on the quieter country lanes and B roads is assured with well-weighted steering offering plenty of feedback.

There is a little noise and a slight reluctance to pull away when travelling at higher speeds on motorways, but the Arkana can cruise with ease at 70mph.

Then in busier town centres, the all-round visibility is excellent and there is a B setting on the gear lever that increases the level of regenerative braking. This enables single-pedal driving which is perfect with lots of stop, start city driving.

Passenger space is also good and a trio of youngsters can easily fit in the back on long journeys. A couple of adults would be fine unless the front seats were pushed right back and there are lots of places to store away bits and pieces.

The boot can swallow 480 litres of kit, increasing to 1,263 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat. This is slightly less than the purely petrol driven version because of the positioning of the battery pack.

Elsewhere, there is a glovebox, door bins, front and rear cup holders, seat back pockets, a small central cubby box, a tray and a slot to store the keycard.

The Arkana is heavily based on the Renault Captur so gains the same high standard of safety features and also received the maximum five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.

There is active emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, brake assist, lane departure warning with lane keep assist, front and rear parking sensors with a rear-view camera, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, Isofix fittings, a full suite of airbags and plenty more besides.

All in all, the Renault Arkana is an accomplished newcomer that ticks all the right boxes for anyone looking for a reliable, generously-equipped car that is fun to drive, practical and economical to run. Fair to say, it’s quite the all-rounder.

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