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In-depth reviews

Aston Martin Cygnet hatchback (2011-2013)

"Aston Martin has brought the hand-built quality of its expensive grand tourers to a small car to create an all-new luxury city car niche."

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Pros

  • There's nothing like it on the road
  • Aston Martin luxury for a third of the price
  • Easy to drive on busy city streets

Cons

  • It's a Toyota iQ in disguise
  • Eye-watering price tag for a city car
  • Some Toyota parts in cabin

The Aston Martin Cygnet is based on the Toyota iQ, but it's a world away from its Japanese cousin. The Aston team takes each iQ and strips it down to the bare metal to create the ultimate luxury city car. Apart from the roof, every exterior panel is new and hand-finished, while Aston styling touches can be seen everywhere, from the gaping grille to the air intakes just ahead of the doors. It takes Aston 150 man hours to build a Cygnet, which isn't far off the 200 hours required to build a DB9. It's inside where the biggest changes can be seen, with hand-stitched leather on the dashboard and plush seats, plus a roof lining made from suede-effect Alcantara. On the road, the Cygnet performs the same as an iQ, although that's no real surprise, as the only mechanical changes are new alloy wheels. But then the Cygnet isn't about how it drives - it's a status symbol with an exclusive badge that's managed to create an all-new niche.

MPG, running costs & CO2

Low emissions are the name of the game

The whole aim of the Aston Martin Cygnet was to bring the firm's overall emissions down, and while an emissions figure of 116g/km is 3g/km worse than the iQ, it's a third of what the other Aston Martins in the range produce. That means the Cygnet is Road Tax exempt in the first year, and costs £30 after that. Fuel returns of 57mpg should be achievable, helped in part by standard-fit stop-start.

Engines, drive & performance

It's designed for the cut and thrust of the city

The Aston Martin Cygnet benefits from the same super-tight turning circle as the Toyota iQ, so it's easy to nip in and out of traffic, and navigating multi-storey car parks is a breeze. A CVT automatic is available, which is ideal for city driving. The car's short length means it's easy to place on the road, although the thick rear pillars limit over-the-shoulder visibility. Head for the open road, and the Cygnet is safe and sure-footed, but as it's designed to be a second car, most owners will have something more interesting in their garage with which to tackle twisty roads.

Interior & comfort

Cygnet matches larger Astons for luxury

Hand-finished interior has the same premium feel as Aston Martin's grand tourers, and the thickly padded seats are hugely comfortable. Soft leather steering wheel is great to hold, while the 1.33-litre four-cylinder engine is a smooth performer, even if it doesn't sounds as characterful as Aston's V12s.

Practicality & boot space

Compact body is roomy for two

Toyota bills the iQ as a 3+1, with two occasional seats that fold out of the boot floor, but these are only really suitable for kids or short journeys. In the Cygnet, the extra padding for the leather front seats means there's even less space for passengers in the back. Treat the Aston as a two-seater, though, and there's far more space inside than the similarly sized Smart ForTwo.

Reliability & safety

Toyota running gear should last

The Aston Martin Cygnet should prove reliable, thanks to its Toyota iQ running gear. On the whole the mechanical parts are left untouched in the rebuilding process, and the bespoke finish for the bodywork and interior should mean it will last longer than the standard car.

Price, value for money & options

It's cheap for an Aston, but expensive for a city car

The entry-level Aston Martin Cygnet is more than double the price of the Toyota iQ on which it's based, but that hasn't deterred buyers after a slice of Aston Martin luxury. Currently there's a six-month waiting list for the Cygnet, so there's clearly a market for a high quality city car.

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Richard is a former editor of Carbuyer, as well as sister site DrivingElectric.com, and he's now Deputy Editor at Auto Express. Having spent a decade working in the automotive industry, he understands exactly what makes new car buyers tick.

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