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.