Early this year I’ve picked up this brand new 2022 Renault Arkana Hybrid. This blog post is about this car, how it drives, the efficiency, dynamics and overall.
First impression and drive
I got into the car, left through the pick-up point gates and stopped to familiarise myself more with it. My last four drives were German brands and so I immediately noticed the difference in controls placement and different design of this Renault Arkana. At the beginning some of the choices made by creators of this car made me really question “why this way?”. And not necessarily in a good way.
The dashboard graphics and infotainment screen – they both looked impressive for such a car. However later I noticed I had no information about the engine revs… and that is irrelevant on EVs, but this car still had an engine, and even VW e-Hybrid’s dashboard information are so much more informative! And this is not even a plug-in hybrid, why the dashboard is so basic with a scale “Charge, Ready, EV and Power” and no revs. I tried all variations of customisation, but found no way to get more technical. Just consumption, and coolant temperature. Ok, being openminded I tried not to judge it too much and continued to the drive.
It was still January, so rather cold, and the car was on the winter tyres. I left the parking lot in the dark. Headlights were bright enough to have a good vision – no complaints about this part. But then road noise and harshness of the ride have taken away the feeling of peace. Road bumps felt like they’re really coming through the chassis, and were noisier than the cars I’ve driven before. Driving this Arkana on the motorway didn’t feel relaxing at all. Ride height of this car is quite high from the ground, good clearance, but not contributing to the good highway ride feel. Because I took this car for temporary use for a few months, I didn’t bother to test it out before.
Months and thousands of kilometres later
I have mainly be driving this car in the populated city areas, rarely on the highways or outside of the city. Over time I got used to this Renault Arkana Hybrid it more and started seeing the good sides of it. Very much contributing factor was warmer weather and summer tyres, which changed the quality of ride noticeably. It became quieter, less harsh. But noise insulation at higher speeds was still not good enough.
The positive highlights
I would highlight two aspects of this car, that I found quite positive:
- Fuel efficiency
- City driving dynamics
Speaking of fuel efficiency, driving on the B roads at around 90km/h without hard accelerations I managed to squeeze out 4.7L/100km throughout the 300 km journey. I was really gentle with the gas pedal and tried to regenerate when breaking and down the hills where it was viable. This figure is quite not bad for the car this size. In the city, if the right foot is not too heavy, 5-5.5L/100km is very realistic, at a more dynamic driving style computer was showing 5.5, but realistically I calculated it out as 6L/100km when refuelling full-to-full. Still not bad. And saying “dynamically” – I mean accelerating without holding back much when the road is clear ahead of you. Story becomes quite different if you’re driving 130km/h or more. Then 7.5 figure is almost certainly guaranteed.
Regeneration or the “B Mode” – I’d say quite aggressive, but at the same time gives quite a bit of energy back into hybrid’s battery, and reduces the need for actual brakes to the minimum. At the low speeds, the hybrid gear really allows you to kick it back to speed without hesitation. The car feels like the power is fading away as the speeds get higher and the pauses between gears makes it feel even slower. When the car is trying to recharge it’s battery while on the drive, depending on the circumstances, the engine sound may become a little annoying. Particularly this car was sometimes making some rattling-like noise from the engine bay, but only occasionally.
Is it a driver’s car? No, it isn’t.
Is the drivetrain smooth? Auto switching between hybrid and petrol – I would say no. There are jerk effects. The pauses between gears are quite long when accelerating harder which may be described as “smooth”.
Is it stable on the road? I would rate average, mostly because of a high ground clearance not so much confidence at the higher speeds or faster corners.
Is it the ride comfortable? Ride is on the harsher side, seats – not too comfy. It’s more of a work-horse from A to B to me.
Is it nimble and sporty? Well, at the low speeds in the city – quite yes, character fades at the higher speeds.
Is it a good daily city driver? Yes. It quite is.
Is the interior well built? Yes, convenient, functions easy to find, may take some time to get used to it. Beautiful interior. Spacious boot.
Is it efficient? Yes, to me it is fuel efficient. Good regenerative capability.
Good looking? Subjective thing. Not my taste of the design, but body shape looks unique and nice, wheels on this particular car – not towards my preference.
Would I own one? Having my car choosing preferences in mind – no.