We can always rely on the French to bring us something stylish and effortlessly chic to adorn our roads.
Thus Renault brought us the lovely Clio, the delightful Captur – and now the elegant Arkana, an SUV with a beautiful coupé styling that delivers so much more than it promises.
Renault has been way ahead of the game since they introduced the all-electric Zoe to us nearly a decade ago and now they give us their first fully formed hybrid designed from the Tarmac upwards.
The Arkana with its sleek coupé lines, twin exhaust, signature headlights and taillights, is yet another example of how the French company can put the ooh la la into an SUV.
It comes in Iconic and S Edition but it is this R.S. Line that is destined to be the bestseller if UK sales reflect the popularity of the Arkana which had a soft launch earlier this year in Europe.
It has a special front bumper and badging on the wings, 18ins red and black alloys with red highlights and glossy black door mirrors. It can also be specified with a black roof.
The interior is just as memorable with red R.S. Line highlights on the steering wheel and dash with red topstitching on the door panels and a special carbon-fibre-look trim.
There are R.S. design cues on the steering wheel and R.S. leather seats, sporty aluminium pedals and a leather gear knob with topstitching. It looks fantastic.
Better even than that is the hybrid powertrain which is both extremely quiet – even when the 1.6-litre petrol engine is working in tandem with the electric motors – and will give you up to 58.9mpg while spitting out a mere 108g/km of emissions.
This powertrain has been developed using Renault’s experience with electric cars but also from advances made with its Formula 1 technology which requires better fuel efficiency and lower emissions.
The result is a car that is both neat and clean in its response and dynamic in its performance. It is also clever, working out for you when you need the electric and petrol motors working together and when the all-electric mode will do.
Alternatively, you can choose to be in all-electric mode at the press of a button.
There are three modes – the default My Sense, Sport and Eco and a ‘B’ on the gearstick allows you to strengthen the effect of braking and deceleration on the recharging process – because of course, this is a non-plug-in hybrid so no messy cables.
Should you feel unready yet to move to this kind of hybrid then Renault is also launching a mild hybrid with a 1.3-litre engine delivering 140hp with the same lovely bodystyle. So you won’t miss out.
The Renault Arkana heralds the electrification of Renault’s fleet with 90 per cent expected to be electric by 2030 but it also lays down a marker in the SUV fields – cars don’t have to be big and brutish to be quite beautiful.
Maggie Barry is an Award winning journalist, she regularly travels in Europe and beyond to test drive cars. A former lecturer in journalism and motoring editor of Media Scotland she has written for and contributed to the Daily Record and Sunday Mail among others. She is on the panel judging the Scottish Car of the Year and Women’s World Car of the Year. She lives near Glasgow with her husband and several cars.
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