Renault have been busy electrifying their model range of late, with a mixture of pure electric, plug-in hybrid & self charging hybrid cars rolling off the production line. Whist most will look familiar, Clio, Megane & Kadjar, for example, they’ve also launched a new model altogether, the coupe-SUV Arkana, a car sure to turn a few heads. We got to grips with one recently & this is what we thought.
Choose from Iconic, S Edition or R.S Line. Iconic features 17″ Bahamas diamond cut alloy wheels, automatic headlights & rain sensitive front wipers, rear-view camera & EASY LINK 7″ touchscreen with Nav, plus Apple CarPlay & Android Auto. S Edition adds, 18″ Pasadena diamond cut alloys, Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot Warning & the larger EASY LINK 9.3″ touchscreen. Range topping R.S Line includes, R.S. Line black leather & suede upholstery with red stitching, heated front seats & hands-free parking.
Two engines are offered; the E-TECH Hybrid 145 auto, the one we tested, or the TCe mild hybrid 140 auto EDC. The former comes with a 6 gear auto box, 148Nm’s of torque, CO2’s of 108g/km & a combined MPG of 58.9. The more powerful EDC features a seven-speed auto box, 260Nm’s of torque, CO2’s of 132g/km & a combined return of 48.7 MPG.
Our S-Edition E-TEch 145 Auto, comes with plenty of safety features, including, emergency brake assist, Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist, Over-Speed Prevention (OSP), Blind Spot Warning & front and rear parking sensors. You also get an electronic parking brake with auto-hold, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, a rear-view camera, Adaptive Cruise Control, leather steering wheel, automatic headlights & rain sensitive front wipers, automatic climate control, a hands-free keycard, extra-tinted rear windows & tailgate & automatic high beam headlights.
The dashboard & control set up is that same as you’ll find in a number of the current Renault range. So, you get either a 7″ or 9.3″ touch screen & quality, soft-touch grey, chrome & black plastics. The rest of the interior is nicely finished, with colour coded, comfortable seats & on our test car, a neat light-up fringe to the dashboard. There are some small piano black buttons under the touchscreen, that allow you to select several functions including EV & separate circular, heating controls sit underneath these.
The dashboard is very ergonomic, making it easy to reach all of the controls. The 9.3″ touchscreen infotainment display has been designed to lean towards the driver & with it’s portrait shape, comes with crystal clear graphics. It’s also easier to reach, to touch & to use than most of the competition. Simply scroll left or right to select the page you’re looking for, in our case mostly to re select Eco for every journey – you’ve also got My Sense or Sport drive modes to choose from.
The cabin is surprisingly generous, as the Arkana is actually longer than the Kadjar. Front & rear passengers get good head & leg room. The boot comes with a generous 513 litres & the cabin features plenty of useful cubbyholes, door pockets as well as a sizeable glove box. Only under armrest storage disappoints.
Its quite difficult to explain the on road feeling or benefit of driving the E-TECH Hybrid. Certainly, the six-sped auto gearbox makes driving easy & Renault’s version is certainly superior to the CVT boxes found in Toyota’s. However, as with the Toyota CVT gearbox, you do still get a lack of immediacy when you accelerate, as the gearbox rather winds up before letting loose the power you’re seeking. Things generally perk up from 3,500 revs, but it’s getting there that proves tiresome.
There is 12V hybrid assistance, which basically adds a bit of energy that would otherwise be lost under braking, otherwise, it drives & feels like an other self-charging hybrid. Motorway progress is comfortable, urban driving relaxing & the plethora of standard equipment means that progress is made safely with the latest tech & connectivity also offered.
The chassis & suspension do show up a little over poor road surfaces, ( what doesn’t ) & as far as handling goes, the cars longish size means it rolls a bit on twisty roads. Straight line progress is pretty good, although the car does let in quite a lot of wind noise from the windscreen.
The Arkana is certainly different & to our eyes is a good looker. It’s also practical & pretty frugal if driven sensibly. Two years of free servicing & a five-year warranty, are attractive too.
The auto gear box is un-engaging. The cars chassis struggles to protect you from the UK’s bad road surfaces. BIK is 25%.
The French have a habit of producing different cars to everyone else & although the Arkana isn’t as out there as many Renaults of the past, it’s coupe shape makes it decidedly different & in a rather bland sector, that has to be a good thing. Furthermore, it ticks all of the safety & tech boxes. From a company car perspective, it’s highish BIK, means that there are other Renault with plug-in hybrid drive trains, that offer much lower BIK.
Model: Renault Arkana S-Edition E-TECH Hybrid 145 Auto.
Engine: 1.6-litre petrol
Transmission: Six-speed auto
0-62mph: 10.8 seconds
Top speed: 107mph
Economy: 58.9 mpg