BY BRIAN BYRNE
THERE’S a thing about coupe-styled crossovers in the premium space which has prompted echoes in the mass market. Renault’s Arkana is one such result.
That the model was first launched in Russia is a reflection of that — premium coupe SUVs have done well there. And Renault has a strong place in that same market, being the fourth biggest seller.
The Arkana that launched a while back in Ireland is on a more updated platform than its Russian counterpart, which is going to make it much more suitable for our part of Europe.
In size it is longer than the Kadjar compact SUV from the same stable, though narrower and not as high. It is larger in every dimension than the Megane C-segment hatch, while the two cars also share many details in their front style. An electric competitor of equivalent size is Volkswagen’s ID 4 and Audi’s Q4 Sportback e-tron would be in the same size space.
The style is catchy. Sometimes the designation of a coupe-SUV can result in a clumsy looking design, especially from the rear. But they’ve got this one looking quite cool, and the 4-door format makes it an easy everyday car for those who need to carry passengers. The boot capacity is a good 25pc more than in the Megane.
The interior is well finished, even in this era of strong style and quality right across the motor industry. It’s familiar to those who have driven recent models from the brand, with clean detailing, an upright vertical centre screen, and digital main instruments which can be formatted with different views. The piano-key style switches and the excellent rotary knobs for the climate control are clearly labelled and ergonomically well placed.
Renault aren’t going for an electric version of the Arkana, though both versions available here are electrified — a mild hybrid, and a full petrol hybrid, the latter a first from Renault. I’ve driven both, and though the experience this week is for the mild-hybrid, the driving sense is similar for the two.
Arkana only comes with an automatic transmission, in the review car with a 7-speed dual-clutch unit they call EDC. Dual-clutch transmissions, first introduced in mass market by the Volkswagen Group, are responsible for quite a big chunk of the growing penetration of automatics on our roads — this year representing almost half of all cars sold here.
In the Arkana there is a choice of drive modes, which can be personalised to preference. Among other things, they change the shift patterns of the transmission. I found the most satisfactory mode to keep it in was Sport, where the shifts weren’t hesitant as they were somewhat in the other modes.
Driving the car overall proved it to be an accomplished model, with good sound and wind insulation, and a reasonable 9.8s sprint offering adequate performance. The claimed fuel consumption of around 6L/100kms seemed to be close to actual, which is pretty fair for a biggish car.
The target customer for Arkana is probably the youngish professional, who wants a bit of style in a car that is nevertheless practical for all everyday needs.
It’s not for speed, but there’s good substance.
What I like: Solid and stylish.
Price: From €28,990. (Rising to €30,340 from January 1st).