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The Renault Arkana is a high-flying little two-door supermini. It’s what I would describe as “exceptionally great-looking” even from behind the wheel.
And it’s certainly a looker in the office parking space. This is a rival for the Nissan Pulsar and of course the Nissan Qashqai. However, there’s an additional reason why this hatchback is so good-looking. It is fitted with the famous Alpine magic slot in the bonnet.
If you’re a caddish sort, then this iconically arctic-looking design theme is the perfect opportunity to splash out on a dosh account, of course. But in the context of this car, it’s probably more relevant.
The front and rear are both relatively low, which means that a driving position that can only be described as slight is achieved by the use of 20-inch alloy wheels rather than wiggly plastic compound tyres.
The honeycomb front grille is anything but ‘goofy’ or ‘fishmonger’, as some say, and that means the arctic styling owes more to the savage nature of nature than the kitsch usually associated with that style.
Despite possessing all the attributes of the above mentioned supermini, the Renault Arkana is also capable of the occasional mega sports drive. It has everything and the kitchen sink to make it more than just another circa 2005 hatchback.
The low centre of gravity and reworked engine and gearbox configuration make it feel easy to drive at the back, with low flat-track is excellent. There’s a compliant suspension with excellent road-holding and a neat shift point behind the steering wheel, but it’s the light steering and rear-wheel drive, which appear to be designed specifically for a supermini, which is the key factor.
At the top-end, the Arkana has a bit of a ‘stop’ button in the front, which has an annoying glow in the engine bay in the absence of any exhaust. This minor feature is clearly aimed at spoiling your satisfaction. It feels like a minor irritation and shouldn’t be there.
Boot space is a respectable 88 litres (with the rear seats folded), which is made possible by that two-fold tailgate and the low, steeply-angled door line.
There’s not a great deal of character and personality to this car – in terms of style and charisma. But it would be nonsense to suggest it doesn’t achieve a reasonable degree of everyday real-world effectiveness.
Less flamboyant than its rivals and with a seriously low centre of gravity, it is still a highly manoeuvrable little hatchback.