Renault Arkana E-Tech Engineered Full Hybrid 145 – Works on F-unit

The stylish Renault Arkana SUV Coupé has won the hearts of many customers with its design and objective qualities, and Renault can be justly proud of it. Because if you would like to own a stylish SUV-coupe, but you don’t have the money for German premium cars, the Arkana is a great solution. But potential buyers are surely wondering – should they get a vehicle with a conventional combustion engine, or should they try a hybrid? A diesel is not on offer…
The Arkana is only offered with petrol engines. The familiar turbocharged four-cylinder 1.3 is available with 140 or 160 horsepower and always mated to the EDC dual-clutch automatic transmission. This motoring delivers pleasing refinement, solid dynamics and is no slouch either, aided by mild-hybrid technology. The hybrid E-Tech, however, is miles ahead of the pack when it comes to fuel economy.
The Renault Arkana boasts an original look and stands on the CMF-B chassis platform, just like the Captur, for example. The test car was E-tech Engineered and received gold embellishments – F1 front trim, lower door edge trim, gold stitching on the steering wheel and seats, gold mesh at the passenger footwell and gold dashboard trim.
In addition, the carmaker’s logos front and rear are in gloss black, and the rear spoiler is painted the same way. All this is complemented by 18″ alloy wheels, Silverstone design with gold trim. Finally, even the (admittedly fake) exhaust tips are finished in gold. So original styling is taken care of here.
The interior is otherwise unchanged and is ruled by a touchscreen multimedia system with up to 9.3-inch diagonal that supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto wirelessly. Maps can also display gas prices at the pump, and the system can search for destinations with the help of an app connection from Google.
The infotainment graphics are the same as on other Renault models. A second display behind the steering wheel replaces the conventional alarm clock and displays all the usual information in very nice graphics. Despite the dashboard looking slightly dated overall, the Arkana benefits from physical buttons that can also be operated blindfolded.
Of course, there is a wealth of equipment, including Full LED headlights and adaptive cruise control, which is included from the second trim level. You can then add the Easy Pilot system, which helps with steering on the motorway and in traffic jams and works really well. Only the single-zone automatic climate control is a little disappointing.
Trunk volume is 480 litres for the full hybrid tested, while mild-hybrid versions offer 513 litres. Its height-adjustable floor can be placed in the lower position to maximise transport capacity, and the floor in the upper position makes it easier to load heavy items. A layout that allows you to create a completely flat surface when the rear backrests are folded down, divided in a 2/3 : 1/3 ratio. In the back we find generous leg and knee room, but a journey in three adults will probably be a bit cramped, thanks to the smaller cabin width.
But let’s get back to the essentials – the E-Tech hybrid powertrain. This is a proven technique that’s been on the market for over 4 years, combining a petrol atmospheric 1,000-horsepower engine with indirect fuel injection along with an electric motor. The four-cylinder produces a modest 69 kW (94 hp) at 5,600 rpm and the electric motor then 36 kW (49 hp). In addition, there is a starter-generator with 15 kW (20k) of power. All in all, this hybrid system has a power output of 103kW (140k).
An interesting feature is the multi-mode automatic transmission, which has 2 speeds for the electric motor and 4 speeds for the internal combustion engine. The transmission doesn’t have the synchros that conventional transmissions have because it doesn’t need them. These are replaced here by an electric motor that synchronises the speed of the gears itself. In quiet driving, the hybrid system works great, the gearbox shifts smoothly and even shifting between electric drive or driving on the combustion engine doesn’t give it any trouble. Everything is subtle and the shifts imperceptible.
It’s only when you need to overtake suddenly and put the accelerator pedal to the floor that something that best describes the word “mishmash” happens, and the transmission loses about 1.5 seconds before shifting into the right gear and the Arkana shoots forward. Accompanied by the slightly increased noise of the dialled-up atmospheric engine, which then has to deliver its maximum to the generator and still drive the wheels.
Otherwise, though, the Arkana E-Tech makes the most of its electric powertrain – it’s always on it, so it pulls away from traffic lights briskly, smoothly and completely silently. Coupled with efficient regeneration that can be switched to ‘B’ mode, allowing for electric-car-like one-pedal driving, Renault promises that up to 80% of your city driving time will be spent in electric mode. And we believe them, as the Arkana runs almost entirely on electricity in the city, only recharging the battery at higher speeds.
The hybrid drive works in a very sophisticated way and, for example, when driving through the countryside, at a steady speed of around 90-100km/h, it first starts the petrol engine and uses a starter-generator to recharge the current to the small 1.2kWh battery to about 80-90% of its capacity. It then shuts off the engine and lets the Arkana go using only the electric motor. It will travel about 3-4 kilometers in this way and discharge the battery to about 20% capacity, and then repeat the whole process. Since the petrol engine only works occasionally, you can drive around the districts in this way for a really low consumption of around 4L/100km.
On the highway, the Arkana can also turn off the internal combustion engine on the straightaway and just cruise on electricity at 130km/h. Here, however, the petrol engine joins in whenever power is needed, and overtaking above the motorway limit is not as agile as it is up to about 120km/h. Moving at a hundred and thirty is bearable, you won’t want to move at higher speeds.
We finished the test week with a consumption of 4,9L/100km, practically always at the maximum speed limit and sometimes (on German motorways ? ) even over. So if you try at least a little bit, in real life you will be driving well under five litres in the long run and maybe even closer to four. That’s the consumption figures that some of those 1.5L diesels in the Arkane would have, and the bonus here is that the 50L tank is also handily enough to cover 1000km.
The Arkana caters to those who want a stylish SUV-coupe that drives quietly and, most importantly, economically. The Arkata E-tech is the kind of hybrid where you don’t have to worry about a thing. Unlike plug-in hybrids, there’s no recharging and the battery manages the charging all by itself. Currently in E-Tech Engineered trim, at just under 32 grand, it really offers a lot.