Renault is one of those manufacturers that have SUVs in their range but are perhaps not the first brand you think of when you think SUV. But when we tested the Renault Duster last year, we very much liked it. It is a spacious SUV that drives well and is under that magical buyer spend of $30K.

For 2022, Renault New Zealand is launching the all-new Arkana. If we’re being honest, it’s not really being launched as it’s been for sale for a little while now, and can be seen in the streets. Due to COVID, the launch had to be held off.

DriveLife headed to Marlborough to do an initial drive of the Arkana, and find out as much as we could about the model.

Renault New Zealand: Update

Sam Waller, General Manager of Renault New Zealand, gave us the low-down on the company here, and its global aspirations.

He mentioned the “Renaulution” which includes a move “from volume to value”. He states that Renault is a major player in the European EV market, and they certainly hope to bring that focus here.

There’s also new branding and a logo, that includes a double diamond instead of a single diamond. Not a huge change, but it does make the logo a bit more 2022. They’re slowly rolling this new look to all their dealers. That dealer network has remained steady, with 15 across the country, and 6 service agents.

Sales for Renault in New Zealand have been excellent, he says, with January to April sales up 3.4% on 2021, and they are definitely seeing the trend sales for low emitting vehicles continuing. This essentially means that Renault, like many other brands, is transitioning to low CO2 emissions vehicles across the range.

Supply issues will continue, and Sam goes on to say that if they had more cars to sell, they would sell them.

For 2021, Renault in New Zealand saw 620 sales, which is a record year for the brand. Year to date for 2022, sales are up 18% on 2021.

Overall, the mid-SUV market segment continues to grow, up 7.4% over last year. It’s a hot market segment with a lot of competition.

2022 Renault Arkana

Claimed as a “Stylish SUV coupe”, Renault NZ says the new model complements the Koleos, and is their stake in the ground for a small/medium SUV with low emissions. It has a 5-star safety rating and is fee neutral under the Clean Car Feebate scheme.

We’re told the Arkana is “feature-packed, fuel-efficient, and has a unique shape.“ It certainly is extremely well equipped for its price, with standard features across the two models like automatic parking (parallel or angle parking), adaptive cruise control with stop/go, traffic sign recognition, blind-spot monitoring, automatic high beams, and a heated steering wheel.

Lance Roskiilly, Renault New Zealand’s Service Manager, suggests that people still want that SUV feature of a high seating position, and the Arkana gives this – without being a full SUV with an upright rear end. They would prefer a small SUV coupe instead, he says.

The car has an excellent 199mm of ground clearance, although both models are front-wheel-drive only. There are LED lights at the front and rear, and 17” or 18” alloy wheels depending on the model.

Inside, there’s a driver-orientated cabin, and Renault suggests the whole interior has a high level of quality.  Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard features, too. Comfort features include walk-away door locking, and keyless entry and start.

The boot has a false floor that gives much more depth when needed, with cargo space is 485 litres with the seats up, and 1268 with them down.

Powering the Arkana is a 1.3-litre, 4-cylinder turbo-petrol unit, attached to a 7-speed dual wet-clutch transmission. The drivetrain is identical on both models. Torque is an impressive (for a 1.3-litre engine) [email protected],250 rpm and power is [email protected],500rpm.

Renault is keen to point out that the Arkana runs on 91 fuel compared to many of its competition that needs more expensive 95 octane fuel. They suggest fuel economy for the Korean-built car is 6.7L/100Km and CO2 emissions are 137gms/100Km.

The Arkana will accelerate to 100Km/h in 9.1 seconds.

There’s a selection of 5 colours:

  • Metallic black
  • Metallic grey
  • Flame Red
  • Solid White
  • Zanzibar Blue

2022 Renault Arkana: Pricing

The base Zen model is a sharp $39,990, while the up-spec Intens is $44,990.

Warranty is 3 years, with 30,000Km service intervals, and Renault NZ is working on a capped-price service plan. Currently, there is stock of the Arkana at its dealers, says Renault NZ.

They also confirmed that the higher-performance RS Line will come to New Zealand, but there’s no confirmed date as yet. It’s the same with the hybrid version; it’s coming, but they aren’t sure when.

2022 Renault Arkana: Drive Time

It was time to get behind the wheel, and my co-driver and I grabbed the base-spec Zen model to drive from Nelson to Picton, via Queen Charlotte Drive. The ride stands out straight away as pretty compliant, and the second feature is the torque. With maximum torque at 2,250rpm, it’s a peppy car off the mark.

Those standard features stood out too, it was hard to believe a base-spec model would have a heated steering wheel, for example. The seating position is spot on, for me at least, and seat comfort seemed to be good.

The 1.3-litre engine is smooth and relatively quiet, and once on the move, the wet dual-clutch gearbox is quick to change. It seems a little sluggish to go into gear but we’ll revisit that when we get a model to test. It sits well on the road, and at 100km/h the engine is very quiet.

The glovebox is extremely deep, with unconfirmed reports that it can swallow an arm. After seeing gloveboxes get smaller and smaller, this was a welcome change.

In true French style, the tight and twisty parts of the Picton saw some body roll, but the grip was there and using the paddles to change gear seemed the best way to get the most out of the car on this type of road.

From Picton we headed south to Blenheim. Although the Arkana is being pitched as a city SUV, it does very well on the open road and I could see a drive from Wellington to Auckland being had in comfort.

“Love where it takes you” is Renault’s pitch for the Arkana, and while they’ve reached what seems like mainstream SUV status, the Arkana still has that little something special that only a French car can deliver.

DriveLife will be carrying out a full review on the Arkana next month.

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How on earth to start this? I've been car/bike/truck crazy since I was a teen. Like John, I had the obligatory Countach poster on the wall. I guess I'm more officially into classic and muscle cars than anything else - I currently have a '65 Sunbeam Tiger that left the factory the same day as I left the hospital as a newborn with my mother. How could I not buy that car? In 2016 my wife and I drove across the USA in a brand-new Dodge Challenger, and then shipped it home. You can read more on www.usa2nz.co.nz. We did this again in 2019 in a 1990 Chev Corvette - you can read about that trip on DriveLife. I'm also an Observer for the Institute of Advanced Motorists - trying to do my bit to make our roads safer.

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