First drive in the all-new Renault Arkana

by Petrol Mum
Renault Arkana Intens in driveway

The all-new Arkana has joined the Renault SUV line-up slotting between the Captur and Koleos. The Arkana is like no other previous Renault SUV as it is the first to feature a coupé style roofline, which looks good and doesn’t significantly reduce head room. I recently drove the mid-range Intens variant which boasts 18” two-tone alloy wheels, black leather and suede upholstery and a 7” customisable driver display screen, among many other standard features.

All three variants in the Arkana range are powered by a 1.3 litre, in-line four-cylinder engine that produces a modest 155kW of power and 262Nm of torque paired with a dual-clutch automatic transmission. There is a bit of a delayed throttle response when you put your foot down but when the engine decides to go and the power kicks in, I found it was enough to create some torque steer from the front wheels under hard acceleration. Renault recommends the use of 91 RON fuel and the official combined fuel consumption is 6.0L/100km and for my week driving the Arkana I used 8.2L/100km.

There are three drive modes to choose from, Eco, Sport and My Sense and to access these you press the button with the flower on it that is located under the central screen. The powertrain is set default to Regular and you have the option to vary the steering between Comfort, Sport or Regular, the Cluster appearance, and ambient lighting colour. I spent my time driving in the default setting as I found the Sport setting was just annoying as all it felt like all the Arkana wanted to do was hold a the gears at higher revs. Overall, I found the ride quality in the Arkana to be unrefined and tinny, but other than that I was impressed by the powertrain under this SUV.

One thing I noted was both the front and rear doors required a good slam to close them and on more than one occasion my children had to re-close their door because it didn’t close properly the first time. I thought the front seats were on the firm side too, but both have power adjustment for recline, forward/back and seat height, with the driver’s seat also getting 2-way lumbar adjustment and no memory positions. They look good though and are also heated and cooled with the controls accessed by the central display and unlike most of the vehicles I have driven the cooled seats actually worked.

The leather covered steering wheel is nice and is heated as well, something that you will love to use in winter. The wheel-mounted gear selectors are plastic and there if you want to ‘manually’ change gears. Like other Renault models the selector to change the audio source and volume control is located on a stalk behind the steering wheel. I think it is much more convenient to have these controls on the front of the wheel.

The voice control system worked very well for me and correctly carried out my command on the first try when I asked to change the audio input, set a destination on the sat nav or to make a call. I also liked that the voice control button was designated by a non-descript silhouette rather than a masculine silhouette, which is used by many other car companies.   

I liked the mesh-look plastic across the dash and door trims and the 9.3” central touchscreen is slightly curved giving it a smart look and more importantly it does not show bad finger marks on it. The infotainment system connects to your smartphone via Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and your other media sources include AM/FM, DAB and Bluetooth. Early press cars have a Bose sound system, but the latest arrivals will have Arkamys Auditorium Sound moving forward.

Under the arm rest there is a narrow but deep storage cubby and the centre console has two cup holders, one deeper than the other, with a removable rubber lining for easy cleaning. There is a sloped area to store the ‘key card’ you use to remotely open and close the doors and for keyless start in the Arkana. At the front of the centre console is a deep storage area for your phone with one 12V outlet, one AUX input and two USB ports and good-sized drink bottle storage cubbies in the front and rear doors. On the downside the Arkana only has single zone climate control.

Despite the sloping roofline I found that there was still ample head room for adults to sit in the rear seats and the leg room for me was just OK and like the front seats, the rear seats are also firm. There are two ISOFIX/two rear tether child seat restraint points and central seat can be folded down as an arm rest with two rigid drink holders in the front of it. Rear passengers also get two central rear air vents with open/close and direction control and below these there are two USB ports. There are rear floor mats, but no mat over the transmission tunnel.

The boot has power assisted opening with manual close and is a good size, fitting my weekly shop with ease. Apart from a light there are no other features in the boot such as tie down points or hooks. The Arkana has a removeable boot floor that gives you around 20cm more depth for carrying a large dog or other taller articles. Or you can use this space to store items you may occasionally need like a change of clothes for your children or an umbrella, for example. Under the second boot floor there is a temporary use spare tyre and if you need extra storage space the rear seats have a 40:60 split folding mechanism.

Active safety features across all three variants are impressive with each Arkana getting Renault Easy Drive with Active Emergency Braking System with pedestrian & cyclist detection, Forward Collision Warning system, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Blind spot warning and Adaptive cruise control. Then Intens and R.S. Line also get Over-Speed Prevention and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

ANCAP tests of the autonomous emergency braking system showed GOOD performance with collisions avoided or mitigated in most scenarios. Overall, effectiveness of the autonomous emergency braking system performance in highway speed scenarios was rated as ADEQUATE. Tests of the lane support system functionality showed GOOD performance in lane keep assist (LKA) tests, however the system does not intervene in more critical emergency lane keeping (ELK) scenarios and overall performance was classified as ADEQUATE with a score of 72%.

Arkana Intens rear view camera

The Arkana Intens features a standard rear-view camera with effective 360o sensors and for convenience you also get automatic front wipers and auto lights. Driver and front passenger airbags, driver and front passenger chest side airbag and front and rear curtain airbags are fitted across the Arkana range and it received a 5-star ANCAP (2019) safety rating. The ANCAP Adult Occupant Protection score for the Arkana is 36.81 points out of 38 (96%) and the Child Occupant Protection score is 42.00 points out of 49 (85%). This ANCAP safety rating is based on testing of the Renault Captur. ANCAP was provided with technical information to show that the test results of the Renault Captur are also applicable to the Renault Arkana.

The Arkana comes with a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty with 5 years road side assistance and 5 years capped price servicing. The service interval is every 30,000km or 12 months, which ever comes first and the cost of the first five services for the Arkana is capped at $399 each.

Prices for the Renault Arkana 1.3 Intens start at $37,490 plus on-road costs and as tested with metallic paint ($750) the Intens I drove was $38,240 plus on-roads. Visit your preferred Renault dealer for more information about this SUV like no other in the Renault range.

Heated and cooled front seatsThe seats are firm
Ample rear seat head room for adult passengersDelayed throttle response from the engine
Nice looking exterior and interior designUnrefined ride quality

Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.

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