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What is it?

RENAULT’S All-New Arkana is the brand’s first purpose-built hybrid car and its first SUV with coupé styling. Since launch at the tail end of last year it’s received mixed reviews from the motoring press – but we like it.

In fact, the judges in this year’s Business Motoring Awards awarded it the title of Best Hybrid. I wasn’t on the judgibng panel, but do I agree with them?

Short answer: Yes.

This is a bit of a surprise coming from me as I have always been a hybrid sceptic – viewing them as a bit of a tax dodger and only ever really useful if your stuck in city traffic for long periods of time.

So, what’s different about the Arkana? Well, it’s powered exclusively by electrified powertrains: an advanced E-Tech hybrid and an efficient new 1.3-litre  TCe 140 mild-hybrid. The 1.6-litre E-Tech hybrid, as reviewed here, produces 145hp, while returning up to 58.9mpg, and produces 108g/km in CO2 emissions. Both powertrains use  automatic transmissions.

rearrenWhat I particularly liked was the fact that the car switches effortlessly between EV and ICE mode and not necessarily at speeds below 30mph as with many hybrids. EV mode comes into play often when there is a low load on the accelerator while charging off the engine does not come at the expense of fuel economy. Over 350 miles I achieved a return of 57.2mpg.

There is a simple range line-up with Iconic, S Edition and R.S. Line specifications to choose from, with both powertrain options available for each.

The Arkana has been awarded a five-star crash safety rating by Euro NCAP, bolstered by a suite of the latest Advanced Driver Assistance Systems. All models feature Active Emergency Braking System, Traffic Sign Recognition, Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keep Assist.

Prices start at around £25k and top out at just over £30k in top spec

What do we think?

Inside, the Arkana includes the latest technology features with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. The latest EASY LINK touchscreen infotainment systems are available, including a 9.3-inch portrait touchscreen and over-the-air software updates. The sleek styling hides a practical interior with up to 513 litres of boot space on offer, with generous rear seat space.

Despite the couple styling, there’s plenty of room in the back of the car and you don’t particularly affected by the sloping roofline apart from the fact that there’s no rear screen wiper so visibility is reduced in the rain. The boot is wide and flat and goes back a long way, but with hybrid batteries under the floor, it is quite shallow.

The interior feels stylish and equipment levels are generous. There’s an excellent 9.3in central touchscreen and ambient lighting that can be personalised. There are automatic lights, wipers, blindspot warnings, climate and cruise control, traffic sign recognition, lane keeping and a rear cross-traffic alert.

renaultarkana22On the road the Arkana handles quite well, providing confidence through the corners although the ride is quite hard – and you really feel it over speed bumps. Maybe because of the coupe styling, Renault has gone for a more sport ride rather than comfort.

There are three driving modes, My Sense, Sport and Eco which make changes to the throttle, steering and digital instrument display. Eco reduces power while Sport tightens up the steering and holds on to the gears a tad longer. Best just to leave it to do it’s own thing in My Sense.

You can make certain manual adjustments, such as hitting the EV button to hold the car on the battery while moving the shift into ‘B’ brake mode allows one pedal driving with increased regenerative braking – this can give you quite a jolt, while at the other end of the scale, the engine can become rather raucous under hard acceleration.

All-in-all, I was pretty impressed, which puts me a bit out of kilter with many of the mainstream motoring mags. But, like, any car it comes down to personal choice and what you think once you’ve got behind the wheel.

RENAULT ARKANA S-EDITION E-TECH HYBRID 145 AUTO
P11D value (as tested): £31,245
Engine:                            1.6-litre Hybrid 145
Power:                              142hp
Torque:                             148Nm (electric motors 250Nm)
Max Speed:                      107mph
0-62mph:                         10.8 secs
CO2:                                  109g/km
Fuel economy (on test):57.2mph
BiK:                                    25%
VED Year 1:                      £150
Insurance rating:             16


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