This new Renault is right on the pulse. Available as either a petrol hybrid (HEV) automatic or mild petrol hybrid (MHEV) with a manual gearbox, the Arkana sits in a niche of its own. Slap bang in the middle of the ‘C Sector’, the most popular car size sector in Ireland representing 49% of the new car market you will find what looks like the love child of a Renault Megane and Renault Kadjar.
The Arkana has already racked up a following in other global markets where it is also sold as the Samsung XM3. It is an impressive looking car that hints at sportiness. Its silhouette pays homage to the likes of BMW’s X4, a what you say? Remember the X4 – the four-door coupe version of the X3 SUV! The whole ‘four-door coupe SUV’ thing is a growing design trend and has been a slow burner since the original BMW X6 was launched. Since then Mercedes-Benz (GLE Coupe/GLC Coupe) and others have built similar models and in various sizes too. The idea with building niche models is to never lose an existing customer to familiarity/boredom and to also attract new buyers to a brand they might not have considered. The Arkana is refreshingly different but is there substance to its appearance? Frankly yes. Inside you’ll find seating for five, an impressive dash layout and level of modern technology and despite the slopping roofline reasonable headroom in the rear too – plus there is a huge boot! Up to 513 litres of boot space is available (480L in the HEV) – we nearly gasped at its size the first time we popped the boot!
Renault’s existing C Segment cars; the Megane and Kadjar SUV will no doubt lose sales to the four door Arkana. At 4568mm long the Arkana is longer than a Kadjar (4489mm), its slightly narrower too and has a lower roofline (-42mm). These dimensions give the Arkana a nice stance. The Arkana’s long wheelbase helps deliver interior room and is even longer than Renault’s range topping Koleos SUV. The Arkana’s styling isn’t as blocky as Kadjar’s SUV inspired form – yet it ticks the crossover SUV design style that is growing more popular. full length doors and a bit of extra ground clearance. At the minute overtly chunky SUV styling is being seen for what it is – inefficient. In terms of aerodynamics the Arkana has a more slippery profile and its sloping rear design is far more aerodynamic than any SUV.
Renault is on its way towards fully electric motoring but in the meantime it is ramping up its electrified offerings. The Arkana’s engine choice is limited to Petrol. The ‘E-Tech Hybrid’ Arkana (HEV) has a 1.6 litre petrol engine/hybrid electric power train. The automatic ‘self charging’ hybrid pushes out a healthy 145hp. It’s two electric motors get power from the onboard 1.2kWh lithium-ion battery (charged by the engine and regenerative braking). The hybrid system defaults to electric drive whenever possible. Renaults quotes a 111g/km CO2 emissions figure while the hybrid manages to deliver a diesel-like average fuel consumption of 4.9L/100km. The second engine choice is a mild hybrid (MHEV) called the TCe140, with, you guessed it, 140hp. Under the bonnet is a 1.3 litre turbocharged petrol engine married to a manual gearbox. As it is a mild hybrid there is a 12 volt starter/generator instead of a conventional starter motor that aids fuel efficiency and stop/starts. It delivers relatively impressive fuel consumption for a petrol car with 5.8L/100km and its CO2 emissions average at 131g/km.
We tested both versions on a wide variety of roads and surfaces and found the character of each quite different despite their similar power outputs. The mild hybrid was more eager to nip about the place and felt more involving to drive, while the pure hybrid felt a little more restrained and dare I say composed. We tended to drive each version a little differently. The Hybrid is the more future proof of the two but is dearer to buy in the first place. The trim line/grades and exterior colour choices are very impressive and the range topping ‘R.S. Line’ grade is very cool. The level 2 ‘S.Edition’ grade is impressive also and has the usual ADAS and other toys you’d expect as standard.
It wasn’t so long ago that the compact family car range was dominated by cars like the Golf, Corolla, and Focus but today they share the limelight with SUVs – ironically built on the very same platforms. If you look at the new car market today you will see many car makers have more than one model in each class and the new Arkana is a case in point. Ireland Arkana pricing starts from €28,900 ‘Iconic’ (€30,490 HEV ‘Iconic’). Orders for Arkana in Europe are flying in and Ireland’s 2021 stock is all but sold out. Renault Ireland expects a 50/50 sales split between hybrid and MHEV. The Arkana delivers style and space so its safe to say this niche Renault won’t be niche for very long!