What Car? says...
What do coupé SUVs and caviar have in common? Well, it’s all a question of money. You can easily get hold of either if you’ve got lots of cash, but it's much trickier on a budget – and that’s where the Renault Arkana steps in.
The Arkana won’t fit on your blini and doesn’t go well with smoked salmon, but it does combine slinky styling with a healthy dash of practicality. It also has the raised driving position SUV buyers adore, and all at a price that’ll have you slapping your back pocket in appreciation.
You have two different engines to choose from depending on your needs: the TCe 140 mild hybrid or, if you have your eye on greater economy and emissions savings, a 'self-charging' hybrid badged E-Tech 145. Once you’ve picked your engine, there are four trim levels to choose from, plus a few options so you can personalise your car.
Finding an affordable coupé SUV is getting easier, and not just since the arrival of the Arkana. If you’re happy with something a bit smaller, there’s the BMW X2, the Toyota C-HR and the VW Taigo, while the Cupra Formentor is one of our favourites and is available with an even greater range of engines, including plug-in hybrids (PHEVs).
Keep on reading this comprehensive review of the Renault Arkana to find out how it drives, what it’s like inside, how practical it is and how much it will cost to run. We'll also tell you how it compares with other coupé SUVs you might be considering.
Remember, if you do decide to buy one – or any other make and model of car for that matter – make sure you check out our free What Car? New Car Deals pages. They have lots of the best new coupé SUV deals.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
The first of the Renault Arkana’s two engine options – and the one you’ll want if you need to keep costs down – is the TCe 140. It’s a 138bhp 1.3-litre turbocharged petrol with mild-hybrid assistance, which means it has a small electric motor to improve the petrol engine’s efficiency.
On the road, it’s responsive as you pull away but lacks mid-range shove, so you have to work it hard to get to higher speeds. The 0-62mph time is 9.8sec, which is peppy, but beaten by the Cupra Formentor 1.5 TSI 150.
The other choice is the hybrid E-Tech 145. Total power is 143bhp, and because the electric motor works instantly at low speeds, it's fine for easily pottering around town. Once outside the city limits where the non-turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine has to take over, acceleration is noticeably less sprightly, leading to a 0-62mph time of 10.8sec. That's slower than the TCe 140 and many cheaper alternatives, such as the Citroën C4.
The E-Tech 145 will get better fuel economy, and switches from electric to petrol power very smoothly. Sadly, it can sound rather thrashy getting up to motorway speeds, which is at odds with how quiet it can be when running on electricity alone. The TCe 140 isn’t much better, but both engines settle down when cruising. Wind noise can be heard across the windscreen area, but road noise is well contained.
Whichever engine you choose, it’ll come with an automatic gearbox (a seven-speed with the TCe 140 and a six-speed with the E-Tech 145). They both change gears smoothly, but TCe 140's box is a bit hesitant.
What’s the ride like? Well, it’s firmer than in most rivals – including the Toyota C-HR – and if you drive over a deep pothole or razor-edged expansion joint you’re greeted with a hefty thud. It’s not all bad, though, and controls body movements well over undulations and speed bumps so you and your passengers don't get bounced around, as they might in the softly-sprung C4.
The Arkana handles pretty well too. It’s not as agile as the Formentor or the BMW X2 but has decent grip, not too much body lean and precise steering that’s pleasingly weighted. We wouldn’t say it’s fun, but its sure-footedness gives you confidence on a B-road.
The interior layout, fit and finish
Finding a comfy driving position in the Renault Arkana is easy. The steering wheel has a full range of rake and reach adjustment, and the seat is supportive.
Behind the steering wheel sits an easy-to-read digital instrument display in one of two sizes. The entry-level Evolution trim includes a 4.2in one with the TCe 140 or a 7.0in one with the E-Tech 145. In Techno trim and above, you get a 10in display with either engines.
The dashboard is easy to use, with physical controls for all the important functions, including the climate control. The Cupra Formentor has some annoying touch-sensitive controls that are fiddlier to operate.
You sit higher up from the ground in the Arkana than you do in the Formentor, although visibility out of the front of the Arkana is worse, due to chunkier windscreen pillars. As with most coupé SUVs the sloping roofline means visibility out of the back isn’t great.
On the plus side, rear parking sensors, a rear-view camera and LED headlights are standard on all versions, with front parking sensors added with mid-spec Techno trim. R.S. Line gives you even more assistance, with its hands-free parking system.
You get an infotainment touchscreen on all versions, starting with a 7.0in one on Evolution trim. That's smaller than a lot of competitors, including the Formentor and the VW Taigo. On Techno and above you get a 9.3in screen.
The larger screen has a high resolution and responsive software, but some of the icons are small and a bit hard to find. The iDrive infotainment in the BMW X2 is easier to use because it comes with a physical rotary controller. All versions of the Arkana come with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring, with built-in sat-nav on all trims except entry-level Evolution.
The interior quality feels like a step up from the Toyota C-HR (which has more hard plastics), especially in its rear-seat area. The Arkana has more soft-touch materials, the switches feel as well damped as they do in the C-HR and it feels just as well screwed together. The Formentor feels plusher still.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
The front seats in the Renault Arkana go back far enough to accommodate long legs and there’s plenty of width, so you won’t be rubbing elbows with your passenger. Head room isn’t particularly good, with taller adults liable to find their heads closer to the roof than in the Cupra Formentor.
Storage space is pretty competitive. The door bins are big enough and there are a couple of generous cupholders, plus some storage under the front armrest and a useful cubby with room for a phone or wallet in front of the gear selector.
You’ll find a six-footer will have more leg room in the back of the Arkana than in the Toyota C-HR. The middle-seat occupant won’t have to straddle a bulky central tunnel, although the higher seating position will require them to slouch to stay clear of the roof. The Formentor has more head room.
The E-Tech 145 has a smaller boot than the TCe 140 (480 litres versus 513 litres) because its hybrid battery pack lives under the boot floor. Even the smaller of the two has enough room for several carry-on suitcases or a set of golf clubs, and is bigger than the boots in the Citroën C4, the Formentor and the C-HR.
A two-level boot floor is standard with the Arkana, allowing you to minimise the loading lip and ensure there’s no step in the floor when you fold down the rear seats. They fold in a 60/40 split rather than the more flexible 40/20/40 split you get in the BMW X2.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
A sloping coupé SUV roofline often means a higher price, but that's not the case with the Renault Arkana. It costs less than the Toyota C-HR, undercuts the Cupra Formentor by a decent chunk and is not much more expensive than the smaller Citroën C4 or the VW Taigo.
It's also predicted to hold its value against depreciation similarly well to the C-HR after three years. Remember, you can compare the best prices by checking our New Car Deals pages.
The Arkana should be affordable to run, too. The TCe 140 mild hybrid officially averages around 49mpg while the E-Tech 145 hybrid should average around 60mpg when the engine is running, and can also drive short distances on electricity alone.
The TCe 140's CO2 emissions are lower than the Formentor 1.5 TSI 150’s, so combined with its competitive P11D value, it attracts less company car tax. The E-Tech drops the CO2 emissions lower still – to below 110g/km – making it a slightly cheaper company car choice.
Don’t forget, though, you can buy a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) Formentor, which will cost you less in tax as a company car, and electric cars – such as Citroën ë-C4 and the Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron – reduce the bill even more.
The Arkana's entry-level Evolution trim is relatively well-equipped, with 17in alloy wheels, cruise control, automatic headlights, automatic climate control and keyless entry. We’d upgrade to mid-spec Techno to get a bigger infotainment screen, plus adaptive cruise control, a leather steering wheel, 18in wheels and extra safety kit.
Above that, there are two top-spec trims that sit alongside one another: one for the TCe 140 and one for the E-Tech 145.
R.S. Line – for the TCe 140 – adds wireless phone-charging, electrically operated heated front seats and a heated steering wheel, plus sportier styling. The E-Tech 145's E-Tech Engineered gets the same equipment but has more reserved styling.
The Arkana scored the full five stars in its Euro NCAP crash test in 2019. It performed well for protecting adult occupants up front and children in the rear. All versions get automatic emergency braking (AEB) and lane-keep assist. Techno adds blind-spot monitoring and a rear cross-traffic warning system.
The model didn’t feature in the 2022 What Car? Reliability Survey but Renault as a brand finished 18th out of 32 manufacturers. That’s above Volkswagen, Audi and Nissan but way below Toyota, which claimed second place.
Every Arkana comes with a five years or 100,000 miles warranty – two years longer than you’ll get with the BMW X2, the Formentor or the Taigo.
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Our favourite trim is mid-spec Techno. It doesn’t cost much more than entry-level Evolution but adds luxuries such as front parking sensors, a larger digital driving display and a larger infotainment screen with built-in sat nav.
Yes, Renault gives you a reversing camera and rear parking sensors as standard on the Arkana. Mid-level Techno trim adds front sensors, and the top-spec trims includes a self-parking feature.
|RRP price range||£26,995 - £31,295|
|Number of trims (see all)||3|
|Number of engines (see all)||1|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||hybrid|
|MPG range across all versions||57.6 - 60.1|
|Available doors options||5|
|Warranty||3 years / 60000 miles|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£1,338 / £1,615|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£2,677 / £3,231|