Renault Arkana: One for the Francophiles

2023 Renault Arkana Intens 8

What is it?

Renault Arkana is a stylish mid-sized SUV that arrived here in 2021 effectively replacing the short-lived Kadjar in Renault’s three-model SUV range.

It’s slightly larger than Kadjar in all exterior dimensions but with almost identical engine outputs.

It sits between the compact Captur and the family-sized Koleos. 

2023 Renault Arkana Intens 1

What’s it cost?

Renault Arkana comes in three variants: Zen, priced from $37,500, Intens from $41,000 and RS Line, $45,000, all before on-road costs.

There’s a single drivetrain combining a 1.3-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine with seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and front-wheel drive.

Arkana joins an increasing trend in the evolutions of SUVs with a smoother sloping rear profile that emphasises styling rather than all-road performance.

With this in mind Renault is marketing Arkana as an SUV Coupe.

Combining the two different components can be challenging but the Renault designers have managed to  do it and have put together a very attractive vehicle.

One feature is a high (200mm) ground clearance which lifts the Arkana without making it look too gawky.

Arkana R.S. Line comes with a specific front bumper design, with an F1-inspired aero blade, 18-inch diamond-cut alloys, , RS Line badging, gunmetal grey door trims and front and rear skid plates.

LED lighting is used extensively including the headlights; daytime running lights; tail lights and turn indicators.

A small powered sunroof is optional on the Intens and standard on the RS Line.

There are seven colour options, only Blue is standard — the others cost.

Arkana uses the Renault Easy Link multimedia system through a 7.0-inch landscape touchscreen in the Zen and a 9.3-inch portrait touchscreen in the Intens and RS Line.

Likewise, the higher-spec variants get a 7.0-inch driver’s digital instrument cluster with the option of a full-digital 10.25-inch screen while the Zen has a 4.2-inch display.

Satellite navigation isn’t offered in the Zen but is standard in the Intens and RS Line. 

All variants get a six-speaker Arkamys Auditorium Sound system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. 

Renault Arkana comes with a five-star ANCAP safety rating with a high level of features in all variants.

It includes six airbags, a rear view camera and autonomous emergency braking including pedestrian and cyclist detection.

There’s also adaptive cruise control with speed limiter, blind spot warning, lane departure warning and lane keep assist, traffic sign recognition, front, rear and side parking sensors, automatic headlights and windscreen wipers, ISOFIX child seat anchorage points and tyre pressure monitoring.

The Intens and RS Line add rear cross traffic alert and speed limit alert.

Renault’s Easy Park Assist is standard in all models and uses a combination of sensors and rear-mounted camera for hands-free parking.

Renault Arkana comes with a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty, 5-year capped price servicing with an impressive 30,000km service interval and 5-year roadside assistance when the serviced by an official Renault dealer.

2023 Renault Arkana Intens 4

What’s it go like?

Our test vehicle was the Arkana Intens with the optional sunroof which, together with the coupe-like lines, meant that entry proved a bit awkward.

The driver’s seat has power adjustment but with a limited height range which, even at its lowest level, meant that my head grazed the roof.

The R.S. Line has carbon-look interior trim, alloy sport pedals, a perforated leather steering wheel with RS Line badging, red and grey contrast stitching, and RS badging.

It has a fully digital 10.25-inch instrument cluster, frameless auto-dimming rear-view mirror and a sunroof. 

Rear space is excellent with surprisingly good headroom given the sloping roof and, courtesy of the 2720mm wheelbase, plenty of knee room.

There’s leather and suede upholstery in the Intens and RS Line as well as electrically adjustable, heated and ventilated seats for both driver and front passenger. 

The centrepiece of the Intens is a 9.3-inch portrait-shaped touchscreen which not only displays the normal infotainment features but also, through its multi-sense system, controls  the pre-set Eco and Sport drive modes to adjust the powertrain and steering. 

There’s also a MySense feature which allows the driver to customise these settings to suit their own individual preferences.

Directly below the touchscreen are a series of small buttons including quick access to the multi-sense system, front seat heating and cooling and door locking.

Sensibly, the air conditioning is controlled by three large knobs that are easy to reach and simple to operate.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of the audio volume controls which require either a series of taps on small tabs at the bottom of the touchscreen or on small buttons on a steering column stalk behind the steering wheel. 

There’s a good-sized space at the centre of the front console for storing smartphones and, in the RS, includes a wireless charging pad.

There are two adjacent USB ports directly above it as well as AUX and 12-volt power sockets.

A small storage box sits below a slide-out armrest in the centre console.

The boot features a split-level floor that can take up to 485 litres at its lower level.

With the 60/40 rear seatbacks folded that can be expanded to 1268 litres.

A space-saver spare wheel sits beneath the lower floor setting.

Arkana has a 1.3-litre, four-cylinder turbo-petrol with outputs of 115kW of power at 5500 rpm, and 262Nm of torque at 2250 rpm. 

It drives the front wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.

Arkana uses the Renault credit card style key and includes ‘walk-away’ automatic door locking. 

Although the rear window is large, its shape together with the broad C pillars do limit side and rear visibility quite significantly. 

Arkana is quite sluggish off the mark with little low-down torque and a jerky dual-clutch transmission.

Switching to Sport mode makes a big difference and, apart from motorway cruising, we spent most of our time with it switched on.

There is a bit of torque steer to catch the unwary.

Steering is sharp and responsive with only minimal body roll through corners, although it is more SUV than coupe in this regard.

Ride provides a nice balance between firmness and comfort. 

The extra ground clearance infers off-road capability, however that’s offset by an absence of all-wheel drive.

Fuel consumption is listed at 6.0L/100km. We averaged a fairly good 7.2L/100 km.

2023 Renault Arkana Intens 3

What we like?

  • Very attractive vehicle
  • High ground clearance
  • LED lighting is used extensively
  • 9.3-inch portrait touchscreen
  • Five-star ANCAP safety rating

2023 Renault Arkana Intens 5

What we don’t like?

  • Only Blue is free
  • Sluggish off the mark
  • Jerky dual-clutch transmission
  • Torque steer to catch the unwary
  • Limited height range for driver’s seat
  • Volume control requires a series of taps
  • Side and rear visibility significantly limited

2023 Renault Arkana Intens 2

The bottom line?

Renault Arkana is a classy looking, well-equipped and competent vehicle that’s sure to appeal to lovers of French marques and anyone else looking for something away from the mainstream. 

In terms of pricing, Arkana can be assessed as either a budget-priced Euro premium SUV-Coupe competitor, a la Audi Q3 Sportback and BMW X2 — or as a fairly expensive offering in the congested and highly-competitive small SUV segment.

The buying public will make that decision.

2023 Renault Arkana Intens 7


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Renault Arkana Intens, priced from $41,000
  • Looks - 9/10
  • Performance - 7/10
  • Safety - 8/10
  • Thirst - 8/10
  • Practicality - 7/10
  • Comfort - 7/10
  • Tech - 8/10
  • Value - 7/10

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