One of my favorite things about our little enterprise that we’re trying to build here at the Autopian, other than our lax oversight of pants-compliant dress codes while in our work-restraints, is that thanks to our partner Beau Boeckmann, we have access to a truly wonderful collection of cars. We’ve only barely scratched the surface of the collection, and so when Friend of Autopian and noted pointer-outer of car things Doug DeMuro needed something special and hard to find in America, we were able to hook a brother up. That something was Aston Martin’s legendary compliance car, the Aston Martin Cygnet.
You can see Doug’s take on this remarkable concentrated dollop of luxury here:
While I generally agree with Doug’s assessment, I’d like to emphasize that I have a lot of un-ironic fondness for this thing. I’ve actually always thought the Toyota/Scion iQ is a real design and packaging triumph, in its way. Sure, that back seat is tiny, but it exists, and for two parents and a little kid, the iQ/Cygnet is capable of doing things almost nothing else can for its size. Well, I mean with at least a little sprinkle of safety, as opposed to something like an original, rear-engined Fiat 500.
Sure, ideally, Aston would have been able to improve on the uninspiring engine and the annoying CVT, but that’s not what they needed the car for. Maybe if it had been designed ground-up as an Aston, they could have found a better performance/economy/eco compromise, but despite what it says on Aston’s own site for the Cygnet
…it wasn’t, and was designed by Toyota for Toyota customer needs and expectations. And you can’t fault it for that.
But what Aston did with the rest of the car, the quality of materials, the care they put into making that interior a really concentrated injection of quality materials and a visual, tactile, and olfactory treat, that’s something that other luxury carmakers should have picked up and ran with. The concept of a tiny luxury city car still seems like one that merits exploration, especially for dense city markets like many in Europe and Asia and New York and San Francisco in America.
Plus, the special Q version that Beau has is really something special, too. Aston’s Q division will do all manner of custom things to your car, and this purple Cygnet got these lovely photo-negative-looking floral images on panels in the roof and doors, and it really gives the interior of the car a feeling like you’re inside something more about art than practicality, which is a great way to remind yourself you’re wealthy AF even if you’re in a tiny car.
The thing about luxury in a small space is that it potentially allows you to do even more than normal, try more things, be more experimental, because less materials are needed and you have more points to focus attention on in a space that really cocoons the passengers.
Doug also mentions the nice and bonkers 2018 one-off Cygnet with an Aston Martin V8 engine. I’d like to note that I remember hearing about this crazy idea way back in 2012, and even doing some ridiculous speculative sketches:
So, Doug, glad you enjoyed the Cygnet! And thanks for the shout-out! We’re going to have to charge you for using pump gas to fill it up before you returned it, though. I thought we made it clear that the Cygnet only gets small-batch, hand-filtered organic gasoline with specially curated octane molecules.
It’s okay, just remember for next time.