REVIEW: Renault Arkana Hybrid

The Renault Arkana, which made its Irish debut in 2021, was the first purpose-built hybrid from the French manufacturer. The first version did reasonably well selling over 163,000 units across Europe. Now the Arkana, which has been described as an SUV with a coupe look, has got a mild upgrade.

Those tweaks include styling changes to the exterior, with a new black band linking the headlights and the new Renault logo at the centre. Depending on the trim, the details of the logo’s diamonds are Black, Satin Chrome or Dark Chrome.

There is also a new ‘aero blade’ design for the front bumper, finished in body colour on the Techno version and Satin Grey on the Esprit Alpine.

At the back, the tailgate now gets a Dark Chrome Renault logo, which matches the badges and exhaust pipe tips. The grille and window surrounds also get new finishes depending on the version you opt for. You also now get 19-inch alloys in the top of the range version.

Inside, the Arkana has a new infotainment system, which includes a seven-inch touchscreen featuring Renault’s EasyLink software, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connections.

The interior is dark as the black roofline matches the black seats. However, the décor is brightened somewhat by tiny French flags on the seats plus you get red, white and blue stitching on the doors, steering wheel and seat belts.

Any Renault car I have driven in recent years had a very frugal engine and the Arkana was no different. When I picked the 1.6-litre hybrid version on Monday morning the range shown was 830km and believe me the range was the slowest moving item in the car. The more careful I drove the more the range increased.

As it’s really an SUV you get a slightly raised seating position. As usual, most of the controls are on the infotainment screen, except for the Air Con which has three large buttons. It’s not a massive screen, unlike some of the huge ones I have experienced in recent cars.

There is ample room in the back seat for three adults. The boot is huge, but with some of electronics for hybrid located in the boot, no room for a spare wheel.

I think Renault were one of the first manufacturers to introduce a key fob whereby the car locks when you walk away from it and the doors unlock when you approach the car, once the key fob is your pocket or handbag. A few more companies have now copied the Renault example and well done to them also.

Motorists know that Renault is a French manufacturer, but many people are not really concerned as to how the cars get to our showrooms. Renault were for many years distributed by Bill Cullen’s group and more recently they were independent. But since the end of 2023, Renault’s Irish franchise is held by the Cedar Group, who also handle the distribution of Nissan and Dacia cars in Ireland.

Prices start at €32,590 for the Evolution TCe 140 version, while my Esprit Alpine E-Tech 145 version will cost you €40,690. My test car came in a Universal White colour, but if Ireland is too wet for a white car, there’s a good choice of colours available, including Midnight Blue.

If you drive sensibly, the only time you will need to visit a garage or forecourt filling station will be do the Lottery.