The Aston Martin Cygnet could provide James Bond with the smallest, most efficient car the classic British brand has ever built.
The new Aston Martin Cygnet based on Toyota's iQ.
The next car for super spy James Bond may not be able to outrun gun-wielding baddies or rocket down a winding mountain pass, but it will at least be able to park in tight city streets and use less fuel than some hybrid cars.
The world's most famous spy may soon be driving a frugal hatchback based on a $20,000 Toyota in an unusual matchup between Bond's preferred brand, Aston Martin, and the world's largest car maker, Toyota.
Toyota and Aston Martin have joined forces to create a baby car that is likely to become a reality “in the not too distant future”.
Toyota announced it will provide Aston Martin with the underpinnings of its Toyota iQ small car - the smallest four-seater in the world - as the basis for a new luxury commuter car to be exclusively built for, and sold to, Aston Martin owners. The most affordable Aston Martin, the V8 Vantage, will set you back the best part of $300,000.
The radically different pairing will produce the Cygnet - a three-door city hatchback that borrows traditional Aston Martin design cues but uses Toyota's driving package. The Cygnet will be tailored specifically to customer requirements at Aston Martin's global headquarters in Britain.
“This collaboration represents a natural pairing of strategies: a small yet spacious package, perfect for the city driver, finished off with Aston Martin's iconic design language,” said CEO and president of Toyota Motor Europe, Tadashi Arashima. “The Cygnet is a good choice for the Aston Martin owner looking for that second or third car, which is luxurious and eco-conscious.”
No doubt designed to spark controversy from a car maker that’s built its reputation on sleek, two-door sports cars with up to 12 cylinders and supercar performance, the Cygnet is a sign of the times for luxury brands looking to downsize and explore new market opportunities. However, for a brand like Aston Martin it also has the potential to damage the reputation of the classic British brand.
But Aston Martin chief executive Dr Ulrich Bez believes the move is well timed.
“Now is the right time for Aston Martin to take this first bold step to embark on this special project - made possible with the support of an organisation of Toyota's stature and capability and the intelligent design and perfect city car package of the iQ,” said Dr Bez.
“Much work is still required, but I am confident that this project could become reality in the not too distant future.”
Perhaps in a move to protect the integrity and exclusivity of the brand, he hinted that the Aston Martin Cygnet could make a perfect accompaniment to an Aston Martin sports car.
“This concept - akin to an exclusive tender to a luxury yacht - will allow us to apply Aston Martin design language, craftsmanship and brand values to a completely new segment of the market,” said Dr Bez.
“The offering of a `Cygnet' with a [Aston Martin] DBS, DB9 or Vantage is a unique combination of opposites and a novel transport solution allowing intelligent and sensitive mobility on an exclusive and innovative level.”
The quirky Toyota iQ made its European debut in January 2009 and more than 25,000 have been sold so far this year.
The city car measures three metres in length but can still accommodate up to four people. It uses innovative design such as its flat under-floor fuel tank and has CO2 emissions starting as low as 99 g/km. It has a Euro NCAP 5-star rating.
“It's a great compliment that the Toyota iQ has been hand-picked by one of the world's most prestigious sports car brands, a company with whom we also share a strong friendship,” said Toyota’s Mr Arashima.
Toyota Australia has no plans to bring the iQ to Australia at this stage but has expressed an interest in what it says could be a premium priced niche car aimed at the iPod set. It would likely sell for closer to $20,000 or more.