REVIEW: Renault Arkana E-Tech Hybrid

There must be advantages for a car’s name to start with the letter ‘A.’ In various lists it’s always going to be one of the first cars mentioned.

Renault say the name ‘Arkana’ is derived from the Latin word arcanum, which means secret. Well, the ‘secret’ is out and the Arkana was named the best Medium Crossover/SUV at the recent Continental Irish Car of the Year awards dinner in the Aviva Stadium.

It sure is a fine, comfortable motor. Officially it’s compact crossover, with a very stylish sloping rear roofline.

The Arkana is not only the French carmaker’s first coupé-styled SUV, it’s also their first purpose-built hybrid. The distinctive-looking Arkana is built at the Renault-Samsung Motors plant in South Korea.

Renault already have two neat SUVs in their stable, the Captur and Kadjar and the arrival of the Arkana will no doubt allow some Renault owners to possibly move up a notch to the Arkana.

The Arkana was introduced to the Irish media on a beautiful autumnal day last September at Palmerstown House in Kill. We remember it clearly, as it was the first major motoring evening in the country after two elongated lockdowns.

I drove a fully hybrid version and if you take your foot off the accelerator you will notice the needle on the dash drop into ‘charge’ mode. The car starts up on electric power, which means a significant fuel saving is made, while reversing is now managed by electricity alone.

And have you ever heard of a ‘dog clutch’? It’s yet another example of the advanced technology in the car’s automatic transmission system that features what’s called an intelligent ‘dog clutch’ that allows the Arkana drive in all-electric mode more of the time.

Inside, the dash is dominated by a massive infotainment screen, a bit like a Tablet. You will never have to listen to ads on radio stations again, just keep switching stations by touching the screen.

The seats are comfortable, but a bit dark. However, the interior décor is lifted thanks to a few nice touches of red stitching on the seats and there is a touch of red on the dash and doors also.

Prices start at €30,340 or €252 per month on PCP. My 1.6-litre test model cost €34,915. Road tax is €190. It’s available in Hybrid and Mild Hybrid. I don’t normally check the brand of tyres on test cars, but this time the unusual name caught my eye. The Arkana was fitted with Kumho tyres, which like the car are also made in South Korea.

My test car came with a plethora of extras including, Blind spot warning and Easy Park Assist. I am always afraid to try the latter service, in case I get any scratches! There are so many goodies available, and I know that it’s only when you go into a dealer to buy new that you realise the exact price. But you don’t have to opt for every extra that’s mentioned in the brochure.

The boot is massive, but no spare wheel; that space underneath was taken up by the hybrid technology. Talking of technology, plenty of USB charge-points for all those mobile phones that family members may own.

It’s a fine comfortable car and while post-Covid inflation is driving up the cost of cars, I think this Renault is reasonably priced.