By on June 29, 2009

Aston Martin is thinking small. In what has to be the ne plus ultra in brand dilution, they will offer the “Cygnet” in 2010. And what, you ask, is a Cygnet? It’s a rebadged Toyota iQ. No, I really didn’t make that up. According to Bloomberg, James Bond’s favorite autobuilder will sell a “luxury commuter” based on Toyota’s three-seater one-liter city car. It’ll be built in Japan and sell (somewhere) for a yet-undisclosed price. Let’s just hope the Cygnet doesn’t mark Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd.’s swan song.

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27 Comments on “Say It Isn’t So, Mr. Bond!...”


  • avatar
    NulloModo

    Interesting… I can’t fault Aston Martin for wanting to make a more fuel efficient model, after all it is good for PR and for CAFE. Aston probably doesn’t have the resources to make developing a dedicated subcompact platform for what will likely be a model sold in very small numbers a good financial idea.

    It’s going to be interesting to see how they price this, and how much the Aston vesion will vary from the Toyota. It seems to me though that Aston should have partnered with Lotus for an economic city car that would still have great looks, great performance, and be more fitting with the bespoke British ideals of the brand.

  • avatar
    pista

    How will they get this, too, to look like a DB9? And they say the Porsche design department is lazy.

  • avatar

    Jeremy Clarkson, Aston Martin Fan #1, won’t be too pleased to hear about this. And people complained about GM’s brand dilution problems…

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    They’re just trying to preempt Jaguar’s upcoming Tata Nano based car.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Look on the bright side, Aston Martin could badge-engineer worse cars.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    @no_slushbox: or Gordon Murray’s Type 25.

  • avatar

    Is Aston Martin hanging on by anything more than a thread at this point? Whereas for Porsche to do something like this would be totally dimwitted, for Aston Martin, it may be a way of surviving a couple of extra years.

    Of course, a car like this could be a good disguise for James Bond, but only in the original IQ brand. Oh, well.

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    The important question is whether this will qualify as a shooting brake.

    re: Richard Chen

    It will be very interesting to see the final specs for the Type 25. The iQ is a well designed car, but not nearly as revolutionary as what Gordon Murray claims he is doing. I think the above comments regarding Aston simply trying to stay afloat as an independent firm, and possibly trying to comply with future Euro CAFE regulations (Aston is exempt from US CAFE), are probably correct.

  • avatar
    Airhen

    The problem with these mini cars is their really only good for driving short distances on city streets. I saw a Smart Car on the interstate recently and I was scared for the driver as everyone, including big trucks were passing him.

    For a funny story… during community day before the last Indianapolis 500, a bunch of Smart Cars drove around the track (the track was open to anyone with a track ticket that day). When I saw this, I asked the group I was with if the owners actually drove their Smart Cars to the track or just hauled them in? When I was leaving, I actually did see a Smart Car on a trailer behind a pickup in the parking lot. (lol)

    Photo here:
    http://img29.imageshack.us/img29/6227/img6643.jpg

    Anyway, I can see the value of offering small luxury cars that would be efficient and good for daily use and enjoyable to drive.

  • avatar
    Strippo

    It wouldn’t necessarily be a bad idea to sell something like this exclusively in Asian markets. In that case it would be like American movie stars making a quick buck doing Japanese television commercials without hurting their image back home. But otherwise? No. Hell no.

    Having said that, I kinda want one. I’m so ashamed.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    James Bond being pursued, and caught, by a guy driving a clapped out 86 Civic?

  • avatar
    Jeffer

    The first thing that came to my mind was the Riley Elf/Wolseley Hornet, Leather and Walnut trim variants of the Mini.

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    In other shrunken luxury news BMW is apparently considering a Rolls Royce edition MINI:

    http://www.autoblog.com/2009/05/26/rolls-royce-to-build-special-edition-minis/

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Do they plan on co-branding with Hello Kitty?

    I couldn’t think of a faster way to destroy Aston Martin’s brand equity.

  • avatar
    vww12

    This has to be a joke, or a publishing house’s-sponsored demonstration for the “How to Kill a Legacy Brand in No Time At All – 101″

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    Drop a highly tuned, say, 200 hp motor in it and make it indeed the Aston Martin of micro cars.
    I have always toyed with the idea of a superpremium micro car. Make it powerful and posh as possible. The Mini’s success shows it might be possible.

  • avatar
    H. Koppinen

    From the Aston press release:

    Much work is still required, but I am confident that this project could become reality in the not too distant future. 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.

    The offering of a ‘Cygnet’ with a 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 language is not very clear but it seems to me that they might be offering it exclusively for customers who buy a real Aston Martin as well. That, at least, would be a novel concept.

  • avatar

    H. Koppinen
    The language is not very clear but it seems to me that they might be offering it exclusively for customers who buy a real Aston Martin as well. That, at least, would be a novel concept.

    Like the BRABUS smart tender car?

  • avatar

    I had a severe WTF moment upon seeing this in AN. They’re forced to offer such a car by CAFE or similar regulations, I presume. Doesn’t Ford still have a stake? Apparently not enough of one as far as the regs are concerned.

  • avatar
    Autojunkie

    I read this in AN. I kept waiting for the punchline and never saw one.

    This is just disturbing…

  • avatar
    tauronmaikar

    The world has ended.

  • avatar
    James2

    Wouldn’t it be easier, since CAFE doesn’t strike right away, to figure out how to “dieselize” a DB9? Or, since we’re dealing with Toyota here, license the Hybrid Synergy Drive technology?

    Anyway, OO7 doesn’t sweat it. The mercenaries over at EON Productions will simply auction the rights to showcase Bond’s ride (Ford’s contract is up) and, if the price is right, this British secret agent will even drive Germany’s finest.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    Sigh.

  • avatar
    joeaverage

    I was at a gathering this summer in Opelika, AL and there was a pair of Canadians who drove their SMART car all the way down and back.

    Just depends on how invincible you feel I suppose. Not much worse than riding a motorcycle in my book. And yes, I do own a motorcycle and ride everywhere.

  • avatar
    faygo

    Autocar has a bit more on Aston’s plans here :
    http://www.autocar.co.uk/News/NewsArticle/Aston-Martin-Cygnet/241124/

    not sure where the concept that “Aston is exempt from CAFE” comes from. they may end up paying big fines (as I believe Porsche has for quite some time) but they’re not exempt.

    tho wikipedia isn’t always right, this would seem to be a pretty straightforward thing to get right :
    “If the average fuel economy of a manufacturer’s annual fleet of car and/or truck production falls below the defined standard, the manufacturer must pay a penalty, currently $5.50 USD per 0.1 mpg under the standard, multiplied by the manufacturer’s total production for the U.S. domestic market.”

    gas guzzler tax is different from CAFE as well, applying to specific models (which are of course part of the overall CAFE rating).

    but the “yacht tender” concept does have some merit. people who have the money for an Aston might well end up with an iQ anyway as it’s a very sharp item, but if Aston can get them to move into an Aston-ized iQ for some extra money, likely with very little margin in it for Aston.

    I have a lot more respect for this as a way to expand a brand and suit it’s owners needs than an SUV.

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    faygo:

    If you make less than 10,000 cars a year you are CAFE exempt, and that figure is probably going to increase. The old Aston met CAFE standards (it did not pay fines) because Ford’s cars brought up the average. The new Aston is independent, and sells well under 10,000 cars (7,300 in 2007, the best year in its history).

    http://www.leftlanenews.com/new-cafe-standards-could-exempt-porsche.html

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/jobs/3539893/Jobs-go-at-Aston-Martin-and-HSBC.html

    So yeah, the fact that Aston is exempt from CAFE is where that “concept that ‘Aston is exempt from CAFE’” comes from.

  • avatar
    Ronman

    the minute i read the title and saw the concept, i could figure out that they are doing it to bring down the average consumption and emission rating of the whole line up to save up a bit on penalties, or maybe get off without penalties all together.

    part of me says it would be interesting to see what they come up with in terms of finish and driving experience, and how they can shove the grandiose bravado of Aston Martin into that little tin box.

    my other part just hates the idea, i always complain the Toyota have given up on making cool fun sports cars and headed to economy, and now they managed to suck up a brand like AM with them…. what’s next, using Lexus’ parts bin to make up the next generation DB10?


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