Arkana coupé crossover is set to spread its wings beyond its original Russian market
The new Renault Arkana coupé crossover, launched at the Moscow motor show, was developed to serve as the firm’s new Russian flagship – but its remit will now expand into becoming a ‘global’ car.
The C-segment crossover will be built at Renault’s Moscow factory and go on sale in Russia next year before being exported to other markets. There are plans to offer the car for sale in Asia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). There are currently no plans to bring it to the UK or mainland Europe but it could eventually be offered here if there is sufficient demand and a business case can be made.
The Arkana was largely developed at the request of Renault Russia, after consumer research, to capitalise on demand for saloon cars with SUV qualities. Renault design boss Laurens van den Acker said it strikes “a balance between the elegance of a sedan [saloon] and the powerful stance of an SUV”.
The Arkana features Renault’s latest front-end look, including full-LED headlights. The tail-lights incorporate a full-width LED strip beneath a pronounced lip on the swooping hatchback. The show car sits on 19in wheels.
It will be launched with two powertrain options, which are unconfirmed at this stage but will come from within Renault’s range. The engines will be EU6 compliant, making it likely that the highest-spec model is a turbocharged unit, which would be a first for Renault in Russia. The Arkana will be offered with four-wheel drive and Renault says it will have “excellent all-terrain capabilities”.
The Arkana is built on a reworked version of the BO+ platform used for the Dacia Duster and the Kaptur, a larger version of the Captur built for the Russian market.
The Arkana is the first step in a major investment in the Russian market for the Renault group as part of its Drive the Future strategic plan to increase sales volume to five million units by 2022. Russia is the Renault group’s second-biggest market after France, largely due to its majority stake in Lada parent Avtovaz.
The group’s brands have a 28% share of the country’s growing market, selling 448,270 vehicles there last year. While led by Lada, which has a 19.5% market share, the Renault brand is growing in popularity in the country, with an 8.5% market share. The Duster (sold as a Dacia in the UK) is the firm’s best-selling model in the country, ahead of the Kaptur, Sandero and Rapid.
Ask anyone at Renault, and they’ll tell you there are no plans to bring the Arkana to Europe. The Arkana is a Russian car for Russian people.
Except, of course, it has been described as a ‘global car’, too, and will be exported to various markets in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Korea and elsewhere in Asia.
But not Europe. Oh, no, there are no plans to bring it to Europe. Except you get the impression that lots of Renault types think the Arkana could do well in Europe.
I certainly think it could: it’s a stylish thing, and the affordable coupé crossover market isn’t exactly oversaturated.
Easy for me to say, of course. If the Arkana is ever going to come to Europe, it will depend on dull things like tariffs, export limits, local laws and business cases. Still, from just a style perspective, let’s hope the firm can make all those numbers add up.
Q&A LAURENS VAN DEN ACKER
Did you base the design on a saloon or an SUV?
“We had some Russian product planners who had a very clear idea of what they wanted for their market. Russia has always been an SUV market, because of how severe the winter is. You see coupé crossovers in the premium sector, but for a mainstream market, this will be one of the first.”
What has reaction to the Arkana been like?
“At the launch, people compared it to BMW and Mercedes, which are generally not our competition or brands we’re normally associated with. If we can take these aspirations and bring them to as many people as possible, then I’m very happy.”
Can you achieve that and keep it affordable?
“This is a strength of Renault. We have enormous wealth of experience at affordable cars. We’re very good at design to cost, finding the right volumes and making cars for the right price. What’s more difficult is design to value, and with this car, we aim to take out cost and add value.”