1988 Renault Megane Concept: Some Thoughts

Recently Driven To Write posted a reminder of Renault’s 1988 concept car, the Megane. It struck me as having distinctly Citroen overtones. 

1988 Renault Megane concept car
1988 Renault Megane concept car

That’s the side view: a very raked bonnet and headlamps set low. Notice the long wheelbase and short rear over-hang. There is also the blacked-out a-pillar. Compare it with the Citroen XM of the next year…

1989 Citroen XM (example shown is the 1990 model).
1989 Citroen XM (example shown is the 1990 model).

And in the roughly-altered image below, I changed the XM´s graphics so as make the c-pillar thicker and body coloured, as on the Megane.


The main graphical difference is that on the XM the roof “floats” over the dark strip of side glass; on the 1988 Megane the c-pillar interrupts the side-glass. But underneath one gets the impression of a structure the same as the XM: a tall boot volume. I almost feel that Renault saw the main features of the XM in spy-shots, perhaps a heavily disguised car, and tried to interpret them as best they could.

Here’s the front view from Eoin’s article yesterday…


And here is a similar view of the 1989 Citroen XM below. Notice the roof treatment and a-pillar treatment on the two cars.

1989 citroen XM front three quarter grey
You can see the Renault’s windscreen wraps around to the side glass using a much bigger radius than the Citoen. But the Citroen was a production design. Those side windows had to be able to wind down. Notice also that the Megane has an unusual black strip across the base of the windscreen. And so does the XM though in the photo I have found the black trim is not so apparent. Compare the heights of the headlamps.

Here is the 1989 Megane dashboard:

1988 Renault Megane IP
1988 Renault Megane IP

Here is the instrument pack that inspired it:

1974 Citroen CX interior close up

The packaging concept and some of the details are so uncannily alike, it really does make one wonder what was happening. Was it really pure luck or did Renault attempt to out-Citroen, Citroen?

The ’88 Megane is also study in an alternative package that prioritises interior space, an idea Renault tried with the Vel Satis. Le Quement did try to realise this aspect of the Megane concept, along with the organic forms (see the Safrane, for example).

As a small extra, ItalDesign were responsible for Subaru’s 1992 SVX (three years after the XM was revealed). Notice the wraparound windscreen which necessitates the small windows. And notice the all-glass strip between the headlamps. Lastly, the SVX has a dropped window line, not unlike the XM. I wonder if I am not pushing things to ask if ItalDesign might have prepared this theme as a Citroen XM coupe before Subaru took up the design as their own?

1992 Subaru SVX

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

8 thoughts on “1988 Renault Megane Concept: Some Thoughts”

  1. Interestingly, the ’88 Mégane – a car I’d been unaware of until recently – reminded me of the Art Blakeslee’s Citroens of the mid to late 1990s. Isn’t it curious how Citroen, the great innovators, were trailing behind Renault by almost half a decade by that time?

  2. The ’88 Megane´s boot makes sense if you think of the distinctive glass treatment on the R25. You are also supposed to “read” the whole glass area as one surface with the body colour sitting on it on enclosing it. Gestalt theory talks about continuity: one assumes that certain forms continue even if visually interrupted. The rear glass is supposed to “continue” under the c-pillar to become the side-glass.
    In some ways, Renault seems to have been taking Citroen´s cues and developing them. And, as you say, Citroen was dragging its heels. Think that we have no section here bemoaning Citroen´s wasted opportunities. That can be interpretted to mean their concept cars weren´t even good enough to be sources of regret for missed chances.

    1. An good question Richard has raised here. The Blakeslee era at Velizy was predominantly poor. Even the concepts were lacking. Would Le Quement have done a better job? (Certainly!) would he have convinced PSA management to be more daring? Probably not.

    1. Interestingly they share the same split front window treatment.

  3. I had a look at that. I see more Citroen in the Renault Megane concept than in the Activa. That one seems to have been an influence on the Xantia. Both the Megane and the Activa have quite curved bodies whereas the XM is definitely slab-sided. What do you think? The Megane and the XM also have a more van-like package whereas the Activa has coupe proportions. It´s reminiscent of the Ford Probe 2. I think that has been said before.

    1. I think the XM would have made an excellent Renault…

  4. Yes, that´s quite plausible. And by the same token, the R25 was what Citroen needed to replace the CX in 1984 and not 1989. They let that car, fine as it was, soldier on too long.

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