New Renault Arkana 2023 facelift review: a case of form over function

We try the facelifted version of Renault’s hybrid coupe-SUV

  • 3.0 out of 5

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    In terms of space inside, there’s enough room for four adults, a surprising amount of headroom, plus space under the front seats for rear passengers’ feet. There isn’t a whole lot of storage inside, but the 480-litre boot is very respectable.

    Unfortunately, the Arkana continues to be let down by its full-hybrid powertrain, which is now the only option. This uses a 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and an electric motor powered by a small 1.2kWh battery to drive the front wheels, while a starter-generator fires up the engine when needed. 

    You always move away using the electric motor, and can silently glide around city streets and car parks on electric power. We found if you’re gentle with the throttle, the four-cylinder engine only butts in as you approach 30mph. But if you try to accelerate hard, as you would when joining a motorway for instance, the electric motor provides a decent amount of initial shove, before quickly throwing in the towel. At that point the engine roars into life. 

    Body control and grip on twisty B-roads isn’t too bad, but we wouldn’t say the Arkana is a particularly fun car to drive, either, due in part to the numb steering. Switching from the default ‘MySense’ drive mode to ‘Sport’ only makes the steering heavier and the throttle responses slightly sharper, but doing so also causes the engine revs to hang on after you lift off the accelerator.

    So where does the Arkana feel most at peace? Oddly for a car of this size, it’s in town, where the electric motor does most of the heavy lifting and the commanding driving position allows for a good view ahead. Rear visibility is limited by the sloping rear screen which quickly becomes dirty from rain, dirt or dust that rolls off the roof. And with no wiper back there, you’ll have to clean it yourself.

    The facelifted Arkana is available in Evolution, Techno and Esprit Alpine trims, and continues to undercut rivals, with prices starting from £26,995 and rising to £31,295 for top-of-the-range examples. For context, the most-basic pure-petrol Peugeot 408 is currently priced at £31,225, while the new Toyota C-HR hybrid starts from £31,290.

    Model: Renault Arkana E-Tech Hybrid Esprit Alpine
    Price: £31,295
    Powertrain: 1.6-litre 4cyl petrol, e-motor
    Power/torque: 142bhp/250Nm
    Transmission: Six-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
    0-62mph: 10.8 seconds
    Top speed: 107mph
    Economy/CO2: 57.6mpg/110g/km
    Size (L/W/H): 4,568/1,821/1,571mm
    On sale: Now

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