Thought only the big German brands were doing coupe SUVs? Renault has something to say about that…
After some shuffling in the range (the Kadjar lasted barely two years) expect to see the Arkana stick around. It’s sourced from Korea, which means it’s cheaper and easier for Renault to import than its predecessors.
It’s built on the same bones as the Captur, but it’s 341mm longer on an 81mm longer wheelbase. It fits in the same parking space as a Mazda CX-5, although its roofline makes it less of a family wagon, and more of an aesthetic statement.
Does it have the substance to back up its swoopy style?
The Intens on test here is the mid-range Arkana model, with a starting price of $37,490 before on-road costs.
That closely aligns it with the range-topping Renault Captur Intens ($35,790 before on-roads), which is similarly-equipped but smaller than the Arkana.
It also drops it into one of Australia’s hottest new-car segments.
The closest price partner in the CX-30 range is the G25 Touring AWD ($38,690 before on-roads), while an optioned T-Roc 110TSI ($33,990 before on-roads and packages) sits neatly alongside the Arkana Intens.
See the full price list below:
- 2022 Renault Arkana Zen: $33,990
- 2022 Renault Arkana Intens: $37,490
- 2022 Renault Arkana R.S. Line: $40,990
All prices exclude on-road costs.
The base Arkana Zen has:
- Adaptive cruise control
- Semi-automatic parking assist
- Front, rear, side parking sensors
- Blind-spot monitoring
- LED headlights
- 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- 4.2-inch digital driver’s display
- Heated leather steering wheel
- Black leatherette seat trim
- Climate control
- 17-inch two-tone wheels
Moving to the Arkana Intens brings:
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Auto brake hold
- 9.3-inch infotainment touchscreen with satellite navigation
- 7.0-inch driver display
- Changeable drive modes
- Adjustable ambient lighting
- Leather and suede seat trim
- Heated, ventilated, electrically-adjustable front seats
- 18-inch two-tone alloy wheels
Notable among the inclusions is adaptive cruise, which remains an option on even the top-spec Captur Intens.
The Arkana has a five-star ANCAP safety rating, based on testing carried out by Euro NCAP in 2019.
It scored 96 per cent for adult occupant protection, 83 per cent for child occupant protection, 75 per cent for vulnerable road user protection, and 72 per cent for safety assist.
Standard safety equipment in Australia includes:
- Autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian/cyclist detection
- Lane departure warning
- Lane-keep assist
- Traffic sign recognition
- Safe distance warning
Moving to the Intens adds rear cross-traffic alert.
Renault has a clear formula for its latest interior designs, and the Arkana doesn’t deviate far from it. That’s a good thing.
The dashboard is dominated by a vertical touchscreen, and the combination of silver trim and soft-feeling leather makes the cabin feel more upmarket than you might otherwise expect of a sub-$40,000 crossover.
It’s very similar to the Captur, although it’s not quite identical. The transmission tunnel on the Arkana is a bit simpler, without the wing-shaped, dual-tier storage space you see on the Captur.
It doesn’t look as fancy, but the Arkana’s conventional gear shifter is easier to use than the fiddly one in its little brother.
The leather-wrapped steering wheel feels great in your hands, and the partially-digital instruments are easy to read at a glance – a fully-digital instrument binnacle is an $800 option.
The driver and passenger sit in well-padded, heated and ventilated seats that are just accomodating enough for leggy drivers.
Short people are likely to enjoy the commanding feeling of being sat up high, but headroom is tight for taller drivers, and the central rear-view mirror sits close to your head because of how the windscreen slopes.
Renault’s infotainment system is a mixed bag. It’s pretty to look at and fully-featured, with a Tesla-ish vibe because of its vertical orientation, but it’s not the fastest system out there.
It’s easy to navigate, but the graphics are a bit blocky and it’s not as quick to respond as maybe you’d expect in the iPad age.
Although it’s not far off the mark it doesn’t quite have the substance to match its style, which is a shame.
There’s plenty of storage space up front, although the lack of wireless phone charging or USB-C connectivity is a bit disappointing. There are two USB-A ports under the dash.
With a long body and long wheelbase, the Arkana has plenty of legroom in the back for average-sized adults sitting behind average-sized adults. Headroom is tight though, as you’d expect of a car with such an aggressively-sloped roof.
Tall teenagers will have their hair brushing the headlining, although kids and shorter adults will be fine.
With air vents, dual USB-A ports, a fold-down central armrest, and reasonably large windows, the Arkana isn’t short on amenities. There’s also bottle-sized pockets in the doors.
Claimed boot space is 353L with the rear seats in place and the boot floor in its highest position, 485L with the floor lowered, and 1268L with the rear seats folded.
It’s a long, flat area with the floor raised, and a surprisingly deep one with it lowered, although the shape of the tailgate does limit its practicality compared to a more conventional crossover.
Power in the Arkana comes from a 1.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol with 115kW of power and 262Nm of torque.
It’s front-wheel drive and has a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The 100km/h takes a claimed 9.1 seconds.
Claimed fuel economy for the Arkana is 6.0L/100km on the combined cycle. It has a 50L fuel tank.
We saw just over 5.0L/100km on a dedicated highway loop.
The Arkana drives like a slightly bigger Captur, which is mostly a good thing.
Unlike the related Nissan Juke, the Arkana has the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance’s more powerful 1.3-litre engine.
With 115kW of power and 262Nm of torque, it’s not a firecracker. But the Arkana packs a decent punch, with enough get-up-and-go to give you a nice little shove in the back.
Noise and vibrations are well suppressed in the cabin, although the engine has a gruff bark when you floor the accelerator.
It’s hooked up to a dual-clutch transmission that, although not quite as smooth as an old-fashioned torque converter, is relatively smooth around town.
If you’re gentle on the accelerator off the mark it hooks up nicely, but it can be a bit jerky if you aren’t. Ramps and driveways are dealt with smoothly, and the transmission is nice and snappy on the move.
Sticking with a conventional gear shifter instead of the funky joystick in the Captur was a good move, too. In the Captur you’re never quite sure if you’re in drive or reverse, in the Arkana there’s never any doubt.
Although it’s bigger than the Captur, the Arkana handles with the same agile feeling as its little brother.
The steering is light, and the Kumho tyres have plenty of grip if you’re in the mood to get racy. They’re a bit noisy on the highway, unfortunately, but that’s often the trade-off you need to make for quality rubber.
With a tall driving position and light steering, the Arkana is a breeze to drive in the city.
Its biggest issue is visibility, given it combines a sloping C-pillar with a slim rear window, but the parking sensors and (decent, not standout) reversing camera mean there’s no excuse for dinged bumpers or kerbed wheels.
Even the ride is good, which isn’t always the case when it comes to small-ish SUVs on big wheels. Occasionally a sharp-edged bump will make its presence felt, but for the most part it’s very refined.
Unlike the Captur, the Arkana comes standard with adaptive cruise control. It’s a smooth system, and generally does a good job staying at your set speed on hills.
Renault’s lane-keeping system is also (generally) very good, only intervening if you’re actually drifting across a white line.
It’s less heavy-handed than some rival systems, but comes in when you need it.
The Arkana is backed by a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty.
Maintenance is required every 12 months or 30,000km, and there’s capped-price servicing for five years.
Four of its first five services prices at $399, and one priced at $789, under the Renault capped-price program.
Like the Captur, the Renault Arkana offers a compelling alternative to its better-known SUV rivals.
The price is right, and its handsome exterior is backed by a stylish cabin with just enough practicality.
Renault has also corrected some of the mistakes it made with the Captur on the spec sheet, which shows the brand’s new Australian distributor means business.
It’s not going to suit everyone, but the Arkana confidently carves a niche for itself in one of the hottest segments of Australia’s new car market.
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