IT'S not sufficient for a car manufacturer to have an SUV or two in its line-up.
These days an essential must-have is a sporty slopey-roof crossover in addition to an upright, more practical one.
BMW has them, Audi has them as do Mercedes...and now, so does Renault in the shape of the Arkana, which slots into a more compact class, which means that it doesn't (yet) really have any direct rivals.
From the front it is immediately recognisable as a Renault with its sloping nose dominated by a large double chevron badge, but profile and from the rear there's a distinct BMW X4 look about it.
Built on a stretched Captur platform and made in South Korea, it is powered by a 1.6 naturally aspirated four cylinder engine coupled to a large electric motor which together shove out a useful 142bhp.
It starts on electricity alone before the ICE unit kicks in, and getaways are noticeably more instant than normal petrol or diesel power.
The cabin is largely based on the cheaper Captur but more roomy and a tad less quirky. Legroom front and rear is actually slightly more than the previous Nissan Qashqai, meaning it easily beats the Captur for spaciousness.
The boot, too, is generously proportioned although the platform is relatively high. Inevitably, the sloping roofline detracts slightly from rear headroom.
Although the Arkana in E-Tech hybrid mode feel sprightly as gets off the mark, that momentum fades away as speed mounts and its 0 to 62mph time is a somewhat unimpressive 10.8seconds. Top speed is just 107mph.
The good news is that pootling around town we average just over the 50mpg mark and on a gentle cross-country drive this improved to 60+mpg. With emissions pegged at an efficient 109g/km company car tax is nicely contained.
Despite its higher than average stance and obvious practicality, the Arkana is an engaging drive with precise handling and reasonably high geared steering which helps emphasise the car's precision. Like most crossovers, it is driven by its front wheels rather than all four.
Ride is largely comfortable and absorbent but uneven surfaces can unsettle more easily than most other models in the Renault line-up. It feels reassuringly taut and solid.
Noise levels are refreshingly low, particularly when trundling calmly through town or on country lanes, partly a reflection of its mechanical quietness and also its innate body rigidity. Even at speed, it remains relaxed and unfrenetic.
Rear visibility isn't a strong point, however. The angled rear screen reduces the view and in the wet you notice that Renault hasn't thought it necessary to fit a rear wiper so rain drops remain on the sear screen, further limiting visibility.
No shortage of standard safety equipment onboard the S-Edition. It comes with lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, blind spot warning system and traffic sign recognition are all fitted.