The shock announcement
On 29th June 2009 Aston Martin released a single image of a full size clay model. It showed a small city car with a distinctive, but large, grill, and a full width front spoiler. In the accompanying release it was disclosed that it was based on the Toyota iQ, and that although it would retain the iQ’s engine and running gear it would feature Aston’s own bespoke interior.
The 2010 Geneva Motor Show was where the concept car unveiled, and by October 2010, the factory announced that production would indeed go ahead. The right hand drive silver production version with a bright red leather interior was on display at the 2011 Geneva Motor show.
How was it made?
Complete Toyota iQ donor cars, in black, white or silver were shipped from the Toyota factory in Takaoka (Japan). Aston then replaced the entire interior as well as all the body panels apart from the roof and doors. It was then given the same paint process used on the current GT cars, and a hand-finished interior, with every surface covered either in handbag-quality leather, Alcantara or high-quality carpet. Further personalization was available through the Q by Aston Martin service.
Why did it exist?
The initial price for the Cygnet was over £30k, which was a significant jump over the iQ on which it was based. Thus, it was never going to be a big seller, even though Aston Martin made some claims of potential volumes, so it was clearly not as a way to fill the gap in demand due to the economic crisis. Most of the press suggested its goal was to lower Aston Martin’s average CO2 emissions to meet new EU legislation, and because of their independence as compared to other high end car makers that are part of a larger conglomerate. Multiple statements from Aston Martin did nothing to dissuade these stories, however, it is clear from comments made by then-CEO Dr Ulrich Bez that the goal was to create a city 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.
What was the reaction?
In the press the announcement of the Cygnet caused a mixture of humour and disbelief, which changed to shock when the price was announced. On the various automotive forums, the Cygnet was met with horror and vitriol.
Why was production stopped?
Even though sales never met the levels originally hoped for, and this appeared to be the major reason for the Cygnet’s cancellation, but stopping production seemed to be due to a number of additional factors. Toyota announced that the iQ production would reach the end of production in December 2015, and the cancelling of the EV project (Toyota eQ) in 2013 obviated Dr Bez’s desire for an electric Cygnet. Irrespective the Cygnet was moved to “Past Models” on Aston Martin’s web site.