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2011-01-21 07:38

DESIREABLE?: It may be an Aston Martin, but with only 72kW on tap and lacking all-round independent suspension it is a grave new departure for the brand.

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Aston Martin
Model Cygnet
Engine 1.33l in-line four
Power 72kW @ 6 000r/min
Torque 125Nm @ 4 400r/min
Zero To Hundred 11.6 sec
Top Speed 170km/h
Tyres 175/60 R16
Front Suspension McPherson struts
Rear Suspension Torsion beam
Aston Martin has announced the start of production and sale of its superluxury supermini, the Cygnet, in two “strictly limited” launch editions called simply White and Black and finished to match.

No matter the badging, the cars will be based on Toyota’s iQ city car, but equipped with safety items ranging from anti-lock brakes to nine crash bags and luxuries ranging from leather upholstery to a bespoke luggage set.

Indeed, just like a real Aston Martin.

The Brit-based supercarmaker calls the whole deal its Tailor-Fit solution. What owners might call their baby swan remains to be seen but the automaker sees it as a city shuttle, a superexpensive shopping trolley to be used when hauling out the V8 Vantage, DB9, Rapide, DBS (or the forthcoming One-77) will be just too much trouble.

"It’s for driving in the contemporary metropolis," Aston casually explains. A standard manual gearbox or an auto transmission – the latter the likely choice for the languid – can be nominated but the Black and White editions will be produced for a strictly demarcated time.

Aston Martin says the Cygnet has generated huge interest among owners of its high-performance cars as well as people new to the brand. The automaker says the cars are high-tech, compact and built to the same standards as its sports cars.

"The Cygnet has already become the perfect addition to an Aston Martin sports car as the ultimate means of metropolitan transport," the company trills.

HIGH IQ: It may have keyless entry, full leather trim, climate control and even a Bill Amberg luggage set, but at the end of the day you are still sitting inside Toyota’s iQ...

"It benefits from highly sophisticated active and passive safety technology and has a range of breakthrough features rarely seen in a small car: anti-lock brakes, nine crash bags, stability control, electronic braking assistance, folding door mirrors, a luxurious cabin, keyless entry and start, heatable seats and satellite navigation."

"All this packed into a car that is just three metres long."

Despite the car being essentially a Toyota, Aston Martin says, the Cygnet is clearly recognisable as an Aston Martin with the brand’s signature details:  metal grille, elongated side strakes and inverted tail lights – "solid form with a strong road presence".

The Cygnet is the eighth major production car Aston Martin has introduced at its UK plant since 2004 and will be assembled in a dedicated facility by the same people who build real Aston Martins.

"The Cygnet," the company jolly well says, "demonstrates Aston Martin's ongoing commitment to British manufacturing, supported by a strong local supplier network providing the finest materials and components."

JUST A TOY?: The grille and badge say James Bond. The mechanicals though, are anything but the best of British...

Production will start in April 2011 though Aston Martin’s dealer network in Europe is already taking orders. Other markets will be serviced during 2012.

Prices start at £31 000 – about R325 500.

"For that," AM says, "you get craftsmanship and meticulous attention to detail and the extremely high levels of interior finish are exemplified by the choice of materials and colours on these two unique models."

The Cygnet Launch Edition White is finished in white with a mix of silver mesh, chromed brightwork and white turned-alloy wheel rims. The interior has seats hand-trimmed in white leather with perforated Alcantara inserts.

On the outside, the iconic wings badge appears in matching white.

The Cygnet Launch Edition Black has black metallic paint with a specially developed deep-sea green effect, offset by matt-black louvres and chromed brightwork. The seats and fascia are finished in black leather perforated in a diamond pattern.

Dark chromed accents pepper the cabin and the wings badges are black.

All Cygnet Launch Editions will be delivered with a leather five-piece luggage set – glove-box bag, removable door pocket bag, holdall, garment bag and a collapsible tote bag.

Conceived to allow Aston to go its alone as an independent brand and survive ever stricter emission controls, the Cygnet is is sure to become the most a very well known Aston Martin - for all the wrong reasons. It most definitely will not become the next James Bond car, that is for sure.


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