(Too) Left Of Field? : Renault Arkana Fastback BOSE 1.6 Hybrid [review]

By Clifford Chow, 23 December 2021

Singapore - You can say that the French are possibly the quirkiest of them all, when it comes to building cars.

But there are moments, where these quirks pay off. But I am not entirely sure about Renault’s latest offering, the Arkana. 

So, it’s another hatchback?

Well not quite. The Arkana is actually a fastback… and many other things rolled into one. In-fact, it looks like the French manufacturer decided to tick a few boxes during the development stage, creating this hodgepodge of vehicle styling.

So… if you can only buy just one car, and are unsure of what bodystyle you would like, the Arkana gives you the best of most worlds. A 4-door coupe, an SUV/crossover, and perhaps the practicality of a small estate car. 

Despite the many styling “must-haves” thrown into the mix, the Renault Arkana has good proportions, and is inoffensive.

It is also practical, as it has all the space you would need for four adults, thanks to a decent 2,720mm wheelbase. Our BOSE Edition test car also gets a premium 8-speaker audio system.

Renault's also improved on its EASY LINK infotainment system, which now performs quicker. While both Apple and Android devices are supported, you would still need a cable to get things going (the system still lags a little when plugging in).

While you need to plug in to connect your device, there is still a wireless charging pad to keep your mobile device juiced up.

I like that Renault has kept the boot practical, with a flat loading area without odd corners, boasting 480.

A double-floored cargo area, a removable parcel shelf, and folding rear seats which extend cargo room to 1,263 litres, makes for estate car-rivaling versatility.

WowWee! This is all the car I need!

And it is quite good off the line too. The Arkana gets power from a 1.6 litre petrol engine, good for 141hp and 148Nm.

I had not mentioned this earlier on, but this is Renault's first hybrid vehicle, and the petrol engine is further helped by twin electric motors, adding an additional 250Nm.

Initial acceleration easily puts you ahead of traffic, but do not expect much after that… like I did mention… it is quite good off the line, but that is about it.

Maybe not.

While I may not have issues with the Arkana’s on-paper performance, what really grinds my gears is that weird gearbox that Renault decided to pair with the car.

The Dog-Clutch, Multi-mode automatic, which has only four-speeds (I kid you not), is probably the most stubborn cog-swapper I have ever encountered.

It seems to have an emotional attachment to every gear it’s on, and stubbornly refuses to let go.

Because of this, the Arkana holds its revs for an annoyingly long time before hopping over to the next ratio.

And then, when it comes to switching up, this is also not a smooth affair, as this gearbox occasionally jolts between shifts. Why Renault?

But there is a crumb of hope though. 

So being a hybrid, Renault claims that the Arkana is capable of doing 5.0l/100km, and I managed around 5.5l/100km, which is actually good.

But I believe that this could be better… That is if they swapped out that pesky gearbox.

Over on the highway, the Arkana presents itself as a confident cruiser, though I do notice wind noise seeping into the cabin from the front.

Also that sticky gearbox would mean that you have to bear with a noisier engine.

Around the bends, it quickly becomes clear that the Arkana does not like you pushing it too hard, and that semi-rigid rear axle plays up over uneven surfaces.

Overall, kudos to Renault’s design department… but they should absolutely ditch that silly gearbox!

Renault Arkana Fastback BOSE 1.6L Hybrid
Engine 1598cc, inline4
Power/rpm 141hp/5000rpm
Torque/rpm 148Nm/3600rpm
Transmission E-TECH Hybrid, Dog Clutch Multi-Mode 4-speed auto
0-100km/h 10.8secs
Top Speed 174km/h
Fuel Consumption 5l/100km (combined)

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