The British brand has officially confirmed that they plan to start selling the 2011 Aston Martin Cygnet, a rebadged version of current Toyota iQ city car. It looks like we will finally see an Aston Martin without major quality issues.
First revealed to the public in February, 2010 at the motor show in Geneva, Switzerland, the car was promised to go on sale by the end of this year. Apparently, Aston Martin‘s management had some second thoughts on the subject, because it took them eight more months to give the guys at their Gaydon manufacturing facility the final nod.
The lack of courage lies on the surface: for a brand that is known for its “full-size” luxury grand tourers powered by chunky (and thirsty) V8 and V12 engines, an introduction of a tiny city car, which is based on a Japanese super-compact can be a serious blow to the hard-earned image a company that sells gentleman’s sports cars. (Don’t get me wrong: I have nothing personal against the iQ and actually like the way the British engineers and industrial designers have transformed a sterile-looking Japanese key-car into a fairly nice ultra-compact vehicle for the richer kind of audience. I am just saying that the 2985 mm long car was designed to be cheap and frugal and slow: even the most, ahem, driver-oriented 1.3L iQ that the Cygnet will be based on takes about 12 seconds to crawl from zero to 100 km/h.)
But the temptation to put its toe into an explosively emerging market of entry-luxury boutique cars (think of the Brabus-tuned Smart ForTwo and Ferrari’s Fiat 500 loan-cars) was also great. As a result, in less than half a year we will most probably see the first Cygnets parked near expensive boutiques, fashion malls and fancy restaurants.
Since the cars are targeted at customers with their disposable income around 100 times higher than that of the Toyota iQ buyers, Aston Martin is going to the extremes in modifying the rebadged car to their –pretty much expensive– tastes.
The car, for example, will feature tons of high-grade leather covering just about every surface of the car, including the steering wheel, doors, dashboard, and even the emergency brake lever. Some parts of the dashboard and central tunnel will also be finished in high-gloss royal black lacquer and polished steel.
Gone is the ugly hunch on the dashboard that used to house a navigation screen. Its place is taken by an elegant-looking iPod-dock that somehow compensates for the lack of a full-size head unit.
The only thing that kinda spoils the picture is the set of cheap-looking plastic buttons coming from the original iQ.
Yes, the combination of materials and colors pictured on the photo above look a bit too kitsch to me, but there is a good chance that the final version of the car will get a more refined blend of textures that would suit the brand’s image.
The first bunch of Aston Martin Cygnets will be available with a 1.3-liter VVT-I gasoline engine mated to a manual gear box. An automatic transmission will be offered as option. It will retail for as low as £30,000.
Even if you don’t find this vehicle worth buying, it may still make a nice loaner for those unpleasant occasions when your beloved Vantage gets taken to service to get another thing fixed.
Photos: Aston Martin, Toyota
See also: Renault Megane L’Equipe special edition