By Sandy Myhre
We had the all-new Renault Arkana SUV for a week and fell in love. It ticks so many boxes.
You’d think, that with just a 1.3 litre engine under the bonnet, that it would struggle around the hills, up inclines, on top of ridges. But not a bit. It’s turbocharged for starters and that makes all the difference.
Even so, you’d be inclined to forgive if she didn’t quite make the literal grade at times but, she did, punching above its weight. She handles the roads around the Far North, which are twisty and hilly, very well.
The Arkana delivers, and delivers very well indeed, even to the extent of kidding you into thinking there are a few more litres beneath the hood. It’s coupled to a seven-speed auto gearbox so there’s plenty of rhythm in the delivery.
From the outside the styling has that welcomed French flair. The Renault designers have launched a swooping pen over the initial drawings with the result it looks futuristic. The sloping rear roofline gives the feeling and appearance of sportiness.
LED daytime running lights are in the front while the rear features a full-width LED light bar that’s only separated by the Renault logo placed centre stage. It looks great at night!
The cabin is spacious and certainly big enough for four adults and the seats are comfortable. The interior trim has soft-touch bits that feel good.
The boot space is generous. The boot floor panel can be flipped upright so it divides the boot into sections, a 60:40 split, which affords a great deal of space.
The centre point of the interior is the large central touch screen. It’s clear and concise with good colour reproduction.
There is one little quirky French thing. The card-key unlocks the Arkana and locks it again as you approach and then walk away, without touching the key. It’s something you have to get used to.
In New Zealand there are two Arkana models, the Zen (the entry level) and the Intens which has a few add-ons that you pay for like the leather and suede upholstery, a few more inches on the touchscreen, and bottom warming. Starting price is $39,990.
It’s not likely to sell in any great numbers because the Renault presence in this country is small. When the hybrid arrives that may change but for the moment, given the price position, the Arkana delivers more than a few of the rivals in what is an increasingly crowded market segment.