Renault Arkana: Mid-sized family crossover drives softly and subtly

Plenty of room in the car, which is surprising given the coupe lines of the silhouette

Given Ireland's love affair with the crossover, it's hardly surprising Renault has added another one to its model mix. The Arkana crossover lines up next to the Kadjar and above the Captur, offering another hybrid option to the Renault range as well.

New to western Europe, the Arkana has already recorded strong sales in South Korea – where it's sold as the Samsung XM3 and in Russia, where a version built on a different platform has done very well, according to Jeremy Warnock, Renault Ireland's product manager.

Irish motorists have a fondness for the mid-sized family crossover, which makes up nearly 30 per cent of all new car sales these days, says Warnock. “You really need to be strong in this segment,” he says.

The Arkana’s coupe crossover format has been around in the premium segment for a while with cars like the BMW X6 and Mercedes-Benz GLE coupe , although they have failed to establish themselves as more than niche variants in that market.


Renault's Irish management, however, reckons the Arkana can secure a sizeable new growth area for the brand. Paddy Magee, Renault Ireland country operations director, said that of the Arkana buyers since its August introduction at dealers only 30 per cent were trading in SUVs, so there is a big chance to bring in first-time crossover customers to this market.

Two powertrain options are offered in the Arkana. The first is a 1.3 litre turbocharged petrol engine with a fuel economy of 5.8l/100km (48mpg) and CO2 emissions of 131g/km. This is billed as a mild hybrid as it features a 12-volt starter generator to improve start-stop functions.

The other is the E-Tech Hybrid version, which combines a 1.6-litre petrol engine with a 1.2 kWh lithium-ion battery and two electric motors. Delivering a combined output of 145bhp it claims emission of 111g/km and a fuel economy of 4.9l/100km (58mpg).

Renault says the hybrid power is delivered through a new transmission system that aims to maximise the time this Arkana spends in all-electric mode. During a short drive in the car, however, the transmission left the engine over-revving, particularly when you kick down at motorway speeds. Though it was smooth in all-electric power in slow traffic, the transition between engine and electric power wasn’t well managed by this gearbox. Renault doesn’t seem to have mastered the marriage of battery and petrol power in this set-up just yet.

As with all Renaults these days, the Arkana is an easy drive when driven easy, and is soft and subtle in terms of ride quality. There’s also plenty of room in the new car, surprising given the coupe lines of the silhouette. Despite the swooping roofline, the Arkana delivers 513-litre boot (480 litres on Arkana E-Tech Hybrid) of bootspace.

Prices start at €28,990 for the 1.3-litre petrol and €30,490 for the hybrid version. Add €2,100 to bring either version up to the mid-grade S Edition and a further €2,600 to the top-level RS Line specification.

Renault reckons it will have an even sales split between the two engine options, but that the vast majority of buyers will opt for either the mid-level S Edition or top-level RS Line specification.

Michael McAleer

Michael McAleer

Michael McAleer is Motoring Editor, Innovation Editor and an Assistant Business Editor at The Irish Times