'When I grow up, I wanna be a DBS...'
Aston Martin is about to test the elasticity of its brand kudos with the unveiling of a city car concept based on the Toyota iQ - the Aston Martin 'Cygnet'.
If it gets the green light, the new car, which is as radical a departure for Aston as the Cayenne was for Porsche, will be the first genuinely high-end city car from a prestige manufacturer.
A production version of the Cygnet is expected to hit the UK and European markets by the end of 2010 at a price point of approximately £20,000.
The idea behind the exploration of such a radical niche is the discovery by Aston that 25-30 per cent of its customers - the vast majority of whom own a fleet of private vehicles - also have a city car of some sort in their garage.
"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," says Aston Martin's CEO Dr Ulrich Bez.
Although the design details have yet to be finalised, the exterior is expected to be 'Astonised', although it will retain the iQ's front lights. Inside, the basic iQ cabin architecture should remain, but Aston will finish it in the high-quality materials expected by Aston owners.
The Cygnet, which is expected to be offered with the 1.33-litre four-cylinder Toyota iQ engine, will have near-identical fuel consumption and emissions to its Toyota cousin, making it by far the greenest Aston ever.
The cynics in the PH office have already offered the opinion that having such a low-CO2 vehicle in its range will help significantly lower Aston's average CO2 emissions levels - thus saving it quite a lot of tax under new US and EU emissions laws, but Aston says that was not the primary motivation behind the car.
Instead, the Cygnet will broaden the practicality of Aston Martin ownership. "The offering of a 'Cygnet' with a DBS, DB9 or Vantage is a unique combination of opposites and a novel transport solution" says Bez, "allowing intelligent and sensitive mobility on an exclusive and innovative level."
Tucked away in Dr Bez's quote is also a significant clue to Aston Martin's angle with the Cygnet; Aston will protect its brand exclusivity by initially only offering the car to existing Aston customers, so the first people to 'swan' around in the Cygnet (ahem) will be part of a pretty exclusive bunch.