Renault Arkana E-Tech Hybrid review

Renault Arkana E-Tech Hybrid review

The Renault Arkana E-Tech Hybrid is an intriguing car. Its sleek ‘coupe SUV’ styling gives it serious kerb appeal, there’s plenty of room for all the family and it’s a full hybrid, so there’s no need to plug it in.

Add Renault’s solid five-year warranty, plus all the latest safety kit it comes with, and this Nissan Qashqai-sized crossover ticks a lot of boxes on paper.

Slotting between the Captur and Kadjar in the Renault range, the Arkana is available with two engine options – both fitted with automatic gearboxes.

Renault Arkana E-Tech Hybrid review

The TCe 140 model consists of a 1.3-litre mild hybrid petrol engine, offering 138bhp and a combined fuel consumption figure of 48.7mpg. It’s the quickest of the two Arkanas, reaching 62mph from rest in less than 9.8 seconds.

The car we tested, the E-Tech Hybrid, combines a 1.6-litre petrol engine with two electric motors, offering a total of 143bhp. Fitted with a small 1.2kWh battery, the system prioritises all-electric running unless full power is required and Renault claims it can return up to 58.9mpg with a 0-62mph time of 10.8 seconds, while CO2 emissions are a low 109g/km.

First impressions are good. The Arkana stands out from the crowd and looks particularly good in Zanzibar Blue. There’s a real feeling of space inside and the attractive dashboard layout is similar to the Captur, on which the Arkana is based.

Renault Arkana E-Tech Hybrid review

Soft-touch surfaces are welcome and overall build quality is impressive inside, while up front it’s more solid and functional than flash. There’s a digital instrument display behind the steering wheel and a portrait-shaped 9.3-inch infotainment touchscreen in the centre console (7.0-inch in the entry-level model).

The driving position is relatively high (the car itself is taller than you might think) and there’s ample leg and headroom for adults to travel comfortably in the rear. There’s a useful 480 litres to boot space (slightly down on the mild hybrid model which has no rear battery), expanding to 1,263 litres with the rear seats down.

Visibility is generally good. Our only gripe was that our test car was not fitted with a rear wiper, which is especially annoying on motorways in the wet.

Renault Arkana E-Tech Hybrid review

You’re likely to start off in EV mode and the petrol engine will only kick in if you boot it. Unfortunately, we soon discovered that the Arkana’s six-speed F1-derived clutchless auto transmission, which is supposed to be more efficient and smoother than a conventional automatic, is the car’s weak point.

The gearbox is sluggish and unpredictable at times, meaning that the engine’s revs rise alarmingly at the slightest encouragement. This often-noisy driving experience is a shame because the Arkana package as a whole has a lot right with it.

Renault Arkana E-Tech Hybrid review

There are three driving modes (Eco, Sport and MySense). The latter is effectively the ‘normal’ mode, and the setting you’re likely to leave the car in.

There’s also a button on the dashboard for manually switching to electric mode yourself, as well as a ‘B’ mode on the gear selector for extra regenerative braking (the system that adds charge to the battery by harvesting energy otherwise wasted during braking and coasting).

Renault Arkana E-Tech Hybrid review

The transition from electric power to engine propulsion, and vice versa, is reasonably smooth – and engine noise aside – it’s no slouch. Naturally it’s hushed in EV mode, but it’s also fairly refined on a motorway cruise.

The Arkana’s set-up is on the firm side, so it handles surprisingly well with controlled body lean, there’s decent grip and it generally feels composed.

We tested the mid-range S Edition, though more spirited drivers might want to consider the top-of-the-range RS Line model which features sporty design cues. That said, we doubt that it is any more dynamic on the road, even in Sport mode.

We couldn’t get close to Renault’s claimed economy figures, but depending on your route and driving style, anywhere between 40-50mpg is realistic.

Verdict: It would be easy to dismiss the new Renault Arkana as a case of style over substance. Yes, it’s an eye-catching coupe SUV and, yes, there are some issues with the gearbox, but overall, it’s a comfortable, practical, quality package backed up by a decent five-year/100,000-mile warranty.

Renault Arkana E-Tech Hybrid review

Renault UK

Kia Sportage review

Kia Sportage review

Kia ended 2021 on a high with a record UK market share of 5.5% before getting off to a cracking start in 2022.

The South Korean brand finished January as the best-selling brand (9.1% share) – a first in its 30-year history.

This success was led by the Kia Sportage, which was January’s most popular car overall, having ended 2021 as the ninth best-selling popular new car.

Kia Sportage review

It’s remarkable that this family favourite was still flying out of the showrooms in 2021 and early 2022 because these were the last of the fourth generation Sportage (originally launched in 2016) models.

Which brings us to the all-new Mk 5 Sportage – one of the most striking new crossovers on the road.

Rocking a bold, confident new design, hi-tech interior and a range of petrol, diesel and hybrid (mild, self-charging) engines (with a plug-in to follow), the range is priced from £26,745 to £38,445.

Kia Sportage review

There are five trim levels (2, GT-Line, 3, 4 and GT-Line S) and it will do battle the likes of the Volkswagen Tiguan, Hyundai Tucson, Nissan Qashqai and Suzuki S-Cross.

There’s no doubt that the new Sportage has serious road presence, echoing some of the futuristic styling cues of its pure electric big brother, the EV6.

Inside, the change is just as radical with a smart two-screen infotainment set-up. As standard, there’s a an 8.0-inch main touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and additional digital driver’s display on the right. From GT-Line spec up there’s a larger 12.3-inch screen in the centre.

Kia Sportage review

The curved console is clear, bright, responsive and intuitive to use, partly down to the short-cut buttons below the screen.

We tested three variants (all using a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine) – the entry-level with no electrical assistance, followed by the mild hybrid and the self-charging (or full) hybrid.

Four-wheel drive is available with any of the hybridised models, which are only fitted with automatic gearboxes, while the regular 1.6-litre car only comes with a manual box.

Kia Sportage review

Apart from the obvious kerb appeal, the first thing you notice about the new Sportage is that it’s a little longer, wider and taller than the outgoing car and there’s more room inside.

Overall, it has a more mature, sharper look, it’s well put together, has a quality feel and is generously equipped.

In fact, there’s plenty of space for adults front and back, while the luggage capacity is an impressive 587 litres, expanding to a huge 1,780 litres when the 40:20:40 split rear seats are flipped.

Kia Sportage review

On the road, the Sportage is easy to drive with light steering and good all-round visibility. It would be wrong to say it has the most sophisticated ride thanks to its firm suspension settings, but it does the job and remains reasonably flat when pushed in more challenging corners.

The only slight disappointment is the 1.6-litre T-GDi engine which isn’t the most engaging of units and can be vocal when pushed- a shame because the Sportage is a refined cruiser.

For the record, the conventional engine’s 148bhp is good enough for a 0-60mph sprint time of 9.9 seconds, while the mild hybrid (same engine power, but with 48V battery assistance) is slightly faster (9.4 seconds).

Kia Sportage review

What’s more, on paper the claimed fuel consumption of the basic petrol turbo is 41.5mpg, compared to 40.4mpg for the mild hybrid (though in real world driving you won’t get near 40mpg), so I’m not sure that the latter is worth the extra expense.

Puzzlingly, the CO2 emissions for the all-wheel-drive mild hybrid I drove were higher (158g/km) than the regular petrol (154g/km), so where’s the benefit?

The six-speed manual has an easy shift action, while the automatic options (seven-speed dual-clutch and traditional six-speed torque-converter) are suitably smooth for the mild and full hybrids.

Kia Sportage review

Obviously, if money is not the main concern, then the full hybrid is the most tempting model in the range (until the plug-in hybrid version comes along) – especially if your journeys tend to be longer. There’s extra poke, it’s a more relaxed drive generally and EV mode kicks in at low speeds or when manoeuvring.

The front-wheel drive version I tested delivers a combined 226bhp, a 0-60mph time of 7.7 seconds, fuel economy of up to 48.7mpg and emissions as low as 132g/km.

The Sportage is packed with the latest safety and driver assistance kit including autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and, as with all Kia cars, it comes with a generous seven-year warranty.

Verdict: The all-new Kia Sportage goes straight to the top of the family SUV class with its blend of striking looks, hi-tech interior, practicality, top safety features and big bang for your bucks.

Kia UK

Britain’s bestselling cars of 2021

Home / Auto News / Britain’s bestselling cars of 2021

Gareth Herincx

2 days ago
Auto News

The final figures are in and the Vauxhall Corsa was the the UK’s most popular car in 2021, deposing the Ford Fiesta after 12 consecutive years at the top of the charts.

Not only is the Corsa available with a choice of petrol and diesel engines, but there’s also an affordable pure electric version (badged Corsa-e) with a range of up to 209 miles.

Latest data from the SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders) showed that 305,000 plug-in vehicles (electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids) were sold last year, accounting for 18.6% of overall market share.

Electric vehicles accounted for 11.6% of the market, or 190,727 cars, meaning that more EVs were registered last year than over the previous five years combined, with the Tesla Model 3 leading the charge.

The overall UK car market only improved fractionally, thanks to the global semiconductor shortage and COVID. In 2020, 1.63 million cars were sold, while in 2021 it was 1.65 million.

  1. Vauxhall Corsa
    2021 registrations: 40,914
    2020 ranking: 2nd (up 1 place)
  2. Tesla Model 3
    2021 registrations: 34,783
    2020 ranking: 14th (up 12 places)
  3. MINI Hatch
    2021 registrations: 31,792
    2020 ranking: 7th (up 4 places)
  4. Mercedes-Benz A-Class
    2021 registrations: 30,710
    2020 ranking: 5th (up 1 place)
  5. Volkswagen Polo
    2021 registrations: 30,634
    2020 ranking: 8th (up 3 places)
  6. Volkswagen Golf
    2021 registrations: 30,240
    2020 ranking: 3rd (down 3 places)
  7. Nissan Qashqai
    2021 registrations: 29,992
    2020 ranking: 6th (down 1 place)
  8. Ford Puma
    2021 registrations: 28,697
    2020 ranking: 9th (up 1 place)
  9. Kia Sportage
    2021 registrations: 27,611
    2020 ranking: 16th (up 7 places)
  10. Toyota Yaris
    2021 registrations: 27,415
    2020 ranking: 15th (up 5 places)

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Gareth is a versatile journalist, copywriter and digital editor who’s worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online. After long stints at the BBC, GMTV and ITV, he now specialises in motoring.

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Suzuki SX4 S-Cross review

Suzuki SX4 S-Cross review

We road test the stylish new Suzuki SX4 S-Cross – an SUV transformed…

Where the outgoing Suzuki S-Cross lost out in kerb appeal, it gained in practicality, off-road capability, comfort, equipment and value for money.

This third-generation model builds on its predecessor’s plus points, adding style and a comprehensive safety and tech upgrade.

And let’s face it, it has to good because it’s battling it out with the likes of the Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson, Mazda CX-30 and Seat Ateca in the highly competitive family crossover sector.

Suzuki SX4 S-Cross Hybrid review

The new S-Cross has a couple of aces up its sleeve. Unlike most of its rivals, not only is it also available with four-wheel drive (AllGrip in Suzuki speak), but it offers more equipment as standard, better fuel economy and lower emissions.

Add Suzuki’s hard-won reputation for reliability and top customer service and it becomes a serious contender.

So let’s start with the obvious. While the S-Cross retains much the same profile as the Mk 2, it now has a bolder, more rugged SUV appearance and it looks especially good from the front.

Priced from £24,999, at launch it’s only available with a lively 1.4-litre ‘Boosterjet’ turbo engine, which features a 48V mild hybrid system (there’s a 0.3kWh lithium-ion battery under the driver’s seat) developing 129bhp in total.

Suzuki SX4 S-Cross Hybrid review

Delivering a 0-62mph acceleration time of 9.5 seconds (2WD models) for both manual and automatic transmissions and a top speed of 118mph, it is capable of up to 53.2mmpg, while CO2 emissions are as low as 120g/km. And those last two stats are class-leading.

To make life less complicated, the S-Cross comes in two trim levels – Motion and Ultra.

Entry-level Motion comes with a 7.0-inch centre touchscreen (including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, traffic sign recognition, adaptive cruise control, keyless entry and heated front seats.

Ultra adds a 9.0-inch touchscreen with built-in sat-nav, 360-degree camera, leather upholstery, a sliding panoramic roof and the option of four-wheel drive.

Suzuki SX4 S-Cross Hybrid review

There’s a step-up inside too. While it’s not state-of-the-art, it’s spacious, comfortable and logically laid out.

It’s well built too, though we’d prefer some soft-touch surfaces. It’s also refreshing to find some buttons and dials in addition to the touchscreen (a big improvement on its predecessor, though still not the slickest system ever).

There’s plenty of space for passengers, but the panoramic sunroof does eat into the headroom, so don’t forget to sit in the back on a test drive.

Boot capacity is a useful 430 litres, rising to 875 litres with the rear seats folded down. There are also useful storage spaces around the cabin.

Suzuki SX4 S-Cross Hybrid review

Our only gripe is that the driver’s seating position is a little on the high side, but it won’t be a deal breaker for most potential buyers.

On the road the new Suzuki S-Cross is easy and fun to drive. The engine is eager, and thanks to the car’s lightweight construction and that boost from the battery, it feels lively and only becomes vocal if pushed hard.

Like most SUVs, there’s a little body roll in faster corners, but overall it feels composed and surprisingly agile, while both the automatic or manual six-speed gearboxes are a pleasure to use.

It’s ideal for the city, with light steering and good visibility, plus all-round parking sensors and a rear camera.

Suzuki SX4 S-Cross Hybrid review

What’s more, if you’re no stranger to extreme weather conditions or you simply want extra peace of mind, then four-wheel drive is fitted as standard if you opt for the Ultra trim.

It has four drive modes – Auto, Sport, Snow and Lock. Auto is the default. It uses two-wheel drive, switching to four wheels if it detects wheel spin. Sport makes the S-Cross more dynamic, maximising grip when necessary, altering engine response and cornering performance.

Use Snow for the obvious and other slippery conditions, while Lock is for controlling the car in snow, mud, or sand.

Verdict: The new Suzuki SX4 S-Cross is something of a revelation. An affordable, no-nonsense family SUV that handles well and offers impressive off-road capability. Generously equipped, spacious and boasting low running costs, it’s packed with safety kit and the latest infotainment technology.

Suzuki Cars

Nissan Qashqai review

Nissan Qashqai review

When the original Nissan Qashqai was launched back in 2007, it pioneered the crossover concept with its blend of hatchback compactness and SUV practicality.

The all-new third-generation model is the best yet. Again built in Britain, it’s set to emulate the sales success of its predecessors. 

And it’s just as well that it is hugely improved because a lot has happened in 14 years and it’s now up against strong competition from the likes of the Kia Sportage, Volkswagen Tiguan, Hyundai Tucson, Peugeot 3008, Seat Ateca and Skoda Karoq.

Nissan Qashqai review

Essentially, the new Qashqai is a step up in just about every area compared to the outgoing model which was launched in 2013 and was beginning to show its age by the end of its production run.

Still instantly recognisable as a Qashqai, the new car looks distinctive and modern – and enjoys much greater kerb appeal.

Priced from £23,985, it’s initially only available with the revised 1.3-litre turbo petrol engine from the Mk2. However, it now features 12v mild-hybrid technology and is available with 138bhp and 156bhp outputs.

Nissan Qashqai review

There is no diesel engine option, but buyers can choose between manual and automatic transmissions, plus all-wheel-drive.

Perhaps most intriguingly, Nissan plans to bring an e-Power version to market in 2022, offering a set-up different to any other currently on sale.

Unlike self-charging hybrids, it will feature a 1.5-litre engine/electric motor/battery combo. The petrol unit is used solely to generate electricity and the wheels are driven by the electric motor.

Nissan Qashqai review

In other words, it’s a way of bringing the advantages of an EV (ie instant torque, smooth power delivery and near-silent operation) to those who don’t want to make the jump to a fully electric car just yet. Additionally, there’s no range anxiety, better fuel efficiency and lower CO2 emissions.

For now we have to make do with the existing mild hybrid petrol engine, which is fine because it’s a refined unit. I only tested the more powerful version (156bhp) with a manual gearbox and it managed just fine, even if you won’t be troubling any hot hatches.

Nissan claims it can sprint from standstill to 60mph in 9.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 128mph, while fuel economy is 43.6mpg and CO2 emissions as low as 146g/km.

Nissan Qashqai review

Personally I’d opt for the slick Xtronic automatic gearbox, which seems better suited to the generally relaxed driving style of the car than the six-speed manual transmission.

It’s possible to exceed the claimed fuel economy figure in everyday driving and exceed it on longer, steady runs, but considering there’s hybrid technology on board (recovering energy under deceleration and providing a small torque boost when accelerating), it’s not streets ahead of its rivals, while its emissions are average.

That said, the new Qashqai handles well and feels more agile than before, perhaps thanks to the 60kg overall weight reduction. Push it and there’s a little body lean in corners, but otherwise it offers a comfortable ride with plenty of grip, while the light steering works a treat in town.

The driving position is ideal, and just as you’d expect from a high-rider, visibility is great.

Inside, Nissan has listened to feedback from owners, so the rear doors open wider and there are more soft-touch plastics inside the cabin, for instance. There’s also a fresher, more modern look to the spacious cabin.

Nissan Qashqai review

In fact, the wheelbase of the car has increased by 20mm, providing extra legroom for rear seat passengers, while the exterior length has grown by 35mm. There’s a slight increase in height (25mm) too, and width has expanded 32mm, making the new model larger overall.

What’s more, there’s also more storage around the cabin, while luggage capacity is a useful 504 litres, expanding to 1,447 with the rear seats folded down.

Nissan Qashqai review

Not only can the new Qashqai carry five adults in comfort, with space for luggage, but it sports the latest technology.

The infotainment system, featuring Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, is faster and easier to use. A large digital driver’s instrument cluster is now also available, along with the latest version of Nissan’s ProPILOT semi-autonomous driving system.

All models are equipped with Nissan’s driver assistance and safety package, which includes autonomous emergency braking (AEB), adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist and blind spot monitoring.

Verdict: The competitively priced all-new Qashqai puts Nissan back in the game with its winning blend of sharp new looks, refined driving experience and practicality, plus better build quality, the latest tech and generous equipment levels.

Nissan UK