1988 Renault Megane Concept Car


Image Gallery: Concept Cars All four doors of the 1988 Renault Megane concept car slid apart to reveal a no-pillar entryway. See more concept car pictures.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Slide open the door -- any door -- of the 1988 Renault Megane concept car and you were bound to feel you were about to step into someone's small but elegantly appointed living room.

First of all, those wide doors slid all the way apart, crossing right in front of the fenders. As the doors separated, they reveal a pillarless entryway with four armchair-like seats beckoning you into the 1988 Renault Megane concept car.

May as well sit down. After all, as soon as the remote control requested the doors to open, the seat swiveled to the side in greeting. To refuse this invitation seemed almost impolite.

How about trying out the back compartment? Plenty of space in there -- but if it still wasn't enough, you could just ask the driver to touch the right button. Then watch as the frameless back window moved itself rearward more than a foot on concealed rails, transforming the basic notchback sedan into an even roomier hatchback with an all-new silhouette.

If you suddenly felt the urge to nap after sinking deeply into that plush seat, the back tilted down and, for your weary feet, recliners extended outward. After a relaxing nap, maybe you were ready to peek inside the refrigerated mini-bar, tucked conveniently into the rear center console.

If you were in the mood for quiet conversation, the front passenger could swivel that seat all the way around, to face rearward. Easy enough; the seatbelt traveled right along with it.

Meanwhile, the driver of this Renault Megane concept car was enjoying his or her own brand of comfort and convenience. Of course, the engine wouldn't even start until the remote-control unit had been plugged into the slot to the left of the dash.

The swiveling seats helped the interior of the Megane resemble that of a private airplane more than a road vehicle.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Mounted in the front console was an Atlas touch-screen, which took the place of many ordinary buttons and switches. Developed over a five-year period by Renault and TDF (Television Diffusion de France, a French television-broadcasting company), it offered navigational assistance as well as status checks.

Not bad for a Renault. But there were more delights on the way for the concept car enthusiast -- learn about them on the next page.

For more on concept cars and the production models they forecast, check out:

1988 Renault Megane Concept Car Design

The array of futuristic instruments on the 1988 Renault Megane concept car included an Atlas screen which acted as a personal vehicle guide.
The array of futuristic instruments on the 1988 Renault Megane concept car included an Atlas screen which acted as a personal vehicle guide.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

The 1988 Renault Megane concept car design brief took into account not only the car's style, but also its intelligence.

An Atlas computer console installed in the dash provided all the information you could ever want. You could consult an on-screen edition of the owner's manual, check on hotel vacancies ahead, get tourist information on the nearby area, or study parking regulations in the next town -- whatever data could be programmed onto a compact disc.

In the event dashboard warning lights came on to signal trouble, the Mégane would never leave you stranded -- the Atlas screen could offer advice on the proper procedure to follow.

Also in the front compartment was an audio/video system featuring a radio controlled from the steering wheel. Messages received via radio signals could be seen on the Atlas screen, rather than heard.

Two fold-down color LCD screens were built into the roof, aimed at rear-seat passengers. These lucky travelers could get images either from the Atlas system or from ordinary TV stations. A no-hands telephone waited in the front section, while rear passengers had to make do with a conventional hand-held model.

The mirrors, however, did not have power adjustment. In fact, they didn't have to be adjusted at all. All rear-viewing is accomplished by video, which gave full, all-around visibility. A dashboard switch selected the image from either the rear or right-side camera.

The Renault Megane concept car's body lacked not only mirrors, but protrusions of any sort. No door handles, no knobs, no trim, no antennas -- just smooth, uninterrupted surfaces.

If you wanted a little fresh air along the road, you were out of luck. There was no button or crank to roll down the window because all the windows were fixed in place. The only openings were a pair of small, electrically operated panels in the front windows, which could be opened for paying tolls and similar temporary duties.

Air conditioning was controlled by the Atlas touch-screen. On those frosty mornings, a transparent conductive layer in the windshield delivered quick de-misting and de-icing. Only a small amount of information appeared on the dashboard, within round needle-style gauges. Everything else was part of the Atlas system.

The 1988 Renault Megane concept car was stylish and smart, but how did it perform? Find out next.

For more on concept cars and the production models they forecast, check out:

1988 Renault Megane Concept Car Performance

The 1988 Renault Megane concept car was equipped with two separate luggage compartments.
The 1988 Renault Megane concept car was equipped with two separate luggage compartments.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

The 1989 Renault Megane concept car performance was as influenced by futuristic technology as was the rest of the car.

The gearshift for the automatic/manual transmission was just to the right of the steering wheel, in the form of a miniature lever. Even though there was no clutch pedal, the transmission could be shifted manually, by simply moving the selector.

The clutch disengaged as soon as the lever moved. The clutchless system, according to Renault, let drivers adopt the "sporting" style of shifting gears, using the left foot to operate the brake pedal. Automatic shifts could also be made via the Valeo electronic control system.

Arriving at your destination, you wouldn't have to strain your back to reach all the luggage stuffed into the Mégane's rear compartment. A sliding platform pulled out like a drawer, for easy access from the sides as well as the back. One section of the compartment was also reachable from inside.

Pretty heady stuff. And we haven't even begun to talk about the unusually long look of the car, with wheels positioned far apart on a 122.5-inch wheelbase. Nor have we flipped up the hood to glimpse the powertrain. This was a running prototype sedan, not an idle mockup.

The turbocharged V-6 engine was mounted up front and drove all four wheels.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

A transverse-mounted, Garrett turbo-charged, 3.0-liter V-6 produced 250 horsepower, eager to haul the two-ton Mégane all the way past 160 miles an hour. From a standing start, the car could reach 100 kilometers per hour (about 62 mph) in 8.3 seconds.

The 1989 Renault Megane concept car performance was enhanced by the fact that all four wheels transmitted power to the pavement. As if that were not enough, all four wheels also steered -- the back ones were moved by hydraulic jacks, and steered either in the same direction as the fronts (at high speed) or opposite (low speed).

An electronically controlled adaptive suspension started with one of three settings: soft, normal, or hard. Variable-rate shock absorbers then altered their stiffness automatically according to the road surface and car speed. If you tried to steer around an obstacle at high speed the shocks shifted immediately into "hard."

Michelin run-flat ATS tires could be driven for up to 60 miles at highway speeds following a puncture. Foam expanded to fill the tire's interior almost completely. A Michelin system also kept track of tire pressure.

All of these features of the Renault Megane concept car were part of the designers grand plan for an intelligent vehicle for the next century. See how they put their plan into action on the next page.

For more on concept cars and the production models they forecast, check out:

1988 Renault Megane Concept Car Development

Non-opening windows heightened the streamlined shape of the 1988 Renault Megane concept car, and gave it aerodynamic qualities that rivaled some airplanes.
Non-opening windows heightened the streamlined shape of the 1988 Renault Megane concept car, and gave it aerodynamic qualities that rivaled some airplanes.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

The 1988 Renault Megane concept car development didn't have to take into account American tastes. The French automotive giant was almost unknown in the United States.

After Chrysler took over American Motors in 1987 and abandoned the Renault-styled (but Wisconsin-built) Alliance and Encore, Renault virtually disappeared from the American motoring mind.

Yet 1988 Renault Megane concept car development certainly wasn't harmed by a Euro-centric focus. First seen at the Paris Auto Salon in autumn 1988, the 1988 Renault Megane concept car demonstrated Renault was still very much alive on the Continent.

Not only had profits hit record levels in the wake of financial weakness during the mid 1980s, but the revived company, which is owned by the French government, was eager to flex its motorcar muscle and show what it could do in futuristic style and technology.

The 1988 Renault Megane concept car development was meant to demonstrate that Renault meant "business in the difficult upper end of the market." Rather than turn to a super sports car concept on the order of Ferrari's F40, the company chose instead to create a shape never seen before, "plump yet not appearing so, a completely new form."

In addition to aesthetic appeal, the Renault Megane concept car's unique aerodynamic shape sliced neatly through the air, with a drag coefficient as low as 0.21. That was close to aircraft levels.

Renault described its first real concept car as "a supercar for living." Most amazing of all, the Mégane went from idea to drivable concept in just eight months. Patrick le Quement, formerly with Ford and Volkswagen before becoming design director for Renault, told Automobile magazine that he had three priorities in mind: an "attractive shape, a convincing concept, and...driving pleasure."

Not many people would have an opportunity to experience the latter, but on the first two counts, at the very least, Renault had hit a bull's-eye.

Keep reading to see 1988 Renault Megane concept car specifications.

For more on concept cars and the production models they forecast, check out:

1988 Renault Megane Concept Car Specifications

The 1988 Renault Megane concept car, despite its stunning technical features, went from idea to drivable prototype in less than eight months.
The 1988 Renault Megane concept car, despite its stunning technical features, went from idea to drivable prototype in less than eight months.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Though Renault had become an afterthought in the minds of American consumers, the company was still at the forefront of the European automotive industry. A look at the 1988 Renault Megane concept car specifications that follow indicate why.

Manufacturer: Regie Nationale des Usines Renault, Bourlogne-Billancourt, France

Body design: 4-passenger, 4-door sedan; steel monocoque

Powertrain layout: front-engine, 4-wheel drive

Wheelbase: 122.5 inches

Overall length: 195.0 inches

Overall width: 74.8 inches

Overall height: 55.9 inches

Track, front: 62.2 inches

Track, rear: 59.8 inches

Weight: 3,968 pounds

Approximate price: not available

Engine type: turbocharged sohc V-6

Displacement (liters/cubic inches): 3.0/181

Horsepower @ rpm: 250 (DIN) @ 6000

Torque (lbs./ft.) @ rpm: 257 @ 2000-4000

Fuel delivery: multipoint fuel injection

Transmission: 5-speed manual

Suspension, front: MacPherson struts, lower wishbone, anti-roll bar; electronically-controlled

Suspension, rear: modified MacPherson struts, anti-roll bar; electronically-controlled

Brakes: front/rear ventilated discs

1988 Renault Megane Concept Car Performance

Top speed: 161.5 mph

0-60 mph: less than 8.3 seconds

Quarter-mile: 16 seconds

mph @ quarter-mile: not available

For more on concept cars and the production models they forecast, check out: