Our Pal Doug DeMuro Borrows Our Aston Martin Cygnet, The Smallest And Strangest Aston Ever

Dougcygnet Top

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

Astoncyg Site

…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.






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65 Responses

  1. I always thought this would be a hilarious daily driver even for the rich. Showing up somewhere with this and bitching about gas prices is bound to get a laugh or twelve.

    Bummer this Cygnet wasnt bestowed with those pillows that were the true stand out option but the purple paint makes up for most of that.

  2. I know it gets a ton of hate as just a tarted-up Scion (or Toyota depending upon your jurisdiction), but I really like the idea of the Cygnet.

    There’s this prevailing feeling that luxury cars have to be BIG. On the other end of the spectrum, small cars are often penalty boxes without premium touches.

    I, like most drivers, am usually the only one in my car when I’m driving. I don’t need a land yacht when the only occupant of my backseat is my laptop bag. The large size of a premium luxury car is a disadvantage to me because it’s harder to maneuver and to park. I’ve always driven smaller cars, and I just prefer them.

    I’d be very happy with a small car (ideally just two doors) with premium materials, good sound deadening, high quality audio, and other high-end features, but no such thing exists. And I suppose that’s why this sort of badge engineering goes on. It’s not worth it for Aston to develop a tiny luxury car (or for Cadillac to develop a Cinnamon/Catera-sized luxury car) because there are few out there like me who would appreciate it. It’s easier to simply switch badges and make a few modifications than to start from scratch. Of course at that point the low sales become a self-fulfilling prophecy because people start asking themselves: “Why would I buy the fancy version when I can get the basic one for so much less??”

    1. I think luxury would be too much of a stretch, but the Mini at least counts as a premium small car, right? I’m not sure how it counts on the sound deadening, but at least BMW-grade (roughly) materials, and a good deal of available options if you’re willing to pay for it.

    1. I’d say I can’t understand why anyone watches his videos, but then I remember Scotty Kilmer is not only a thing but he has 5 million plus subscribers.. Not that it really explains anything, but..

      1. The main reason is that he does actually go deep into a lot of fascinating minutiae that nobody else would.

        I mean, he’s got his own quirks and features in his presentation style that he’s leaned into harder and harder, and that can be irritating, but as the kind of weirdo who likes knowing where hidden storage compartments are I’ll watch when it’s something I think is cool.

        1. It’s getting worse, right? I mean, it doesn’t really bother me that much, I watched this whole thing, and I’ve watched tons of his videos in the past– something about getting to see all the tiny details on some obscure supercar almost makes me feel rich, in a weird way? But it’s been a couple years since I’ve seen one, and I feel like he’s changing from “quirky dork” (which I appreciate) to “guy playing a quirky dork on a sketch comedy show” (which makes me understand why so many people find him incredibly annoying).

            1. He’s done a couple of interviews on his work… he really knows what people watch, and which videos get views. He leans into the things that lead to views. That’s pretty much it.

          1. This.

            I like his stuff plenty (articles and videos, plus that he owns and near-daily drives a Ford GT), but you hit the nail on the head: it’s getting a little meta.

            His enunciation and gesticulations are getting more and more over the top, which to me makes it feel like he’s playing a role. And his Cars and Bids ads have always sounded like an ad from local network tv.

            He’s at his best when he’s genuinely enjoying some random silliness involving how much the word “Fiero” appears in the cockpit or something similar.

        2. It’s the simple reality that he gets many basic facts wrong.
          That’s the problem with a lot of YouTube celebrities who claim the “explain things”, but kinda don’t have the depth to keep even the basics nailed down.
          Jason on Engineering Explained has the same issue. Mile wide, an Inch deep as we used to say. As annoying as Scotty is? At least he has the practical experience to draw from.

          The situation here that Doug’s drained his well of quirky cars he-doesn’t-know-much-about that he’s here to explain fully for us? Kinda underscores the issue.

        3. I feel like there’s plenty of Weird Car Twitter types (I’m thinking HubNut especially) who also love the weird, quirky minutiae without leaning so heavily into shtick, so I’m also very much of the camp that won’t watch him unless it’s a very specific car with limited coverage.

          I’m mostly annoyed by him finding foot-operated high beams just so absurd and quirky. Dude’s about the same age I am, it’s not that far removed from our Era.

    2. I used to love his written articles, but the videos just don’t work for me either. It’s a shame being a youtube star makes you so much more money these days than being a decently entertaining writer.

      1. I used to read his writing too. Don’t like his videos, but I also don’t like anyone’s video when I can read the article in 2 minutes instead of sitting through 10 minutes of video and being subjected to ads.

        1. You have never heard of plug-in called Ad Block? This is very effective in blocking out the annoying ads on You Tube. I often use 4K Downloader to download the YouTube videos (including the subtitles) to watch at later time and at higher speed such as 2x or 2.5x. Really watchable at this speed.

          Also, You Tube does have the video play-back speed at 1.25x, 1.5x, 1.75x, and 2x.

          1. I use uBlock because I found it worked better for websites (turned off here though Jason and David!!).

            I’m OK missing out on YouTube videos. Plenty of other content out there to waste my time with. I really only go there for the occasional itch to see a live concert clip or something.

    3. I used to be annoyed by him, but I’ve become a pretty big fan. One of the secrets to watching him: put youtube on 1.75x speed. He talks pretty slow to begin with, but if you speed him up the videos are only about 10-15 minutes; and much much more palatable.

    4. I agree with all my fibers. Whenever someone posts a video of his, it’s like your grandmother tried to Rickroll you by sending “hey watch this video of never gonna give you up.” You know what you’re going to get, and I don’t want any.

  3. Well, it’s nice to see, that Doug has matured a bit, and is noy just bullying and picking on easy targets, like he was a few years ago with the beige Yugo, which made me take a long break from his YouTube stuff.

    1. If you want to love that old Yugo, go check out Aging Wheels on YouTube, he’s now the owner of that Yugo and loves it for all that it is (versus picking on it). The Yugo was passed onto him by Tavarish who engine swapped with a bigger engine from a Fiat.

  4. I find Mr. DeMuro’s style to be more than a bit grating. His snarky remarks add nothing to his “review” of the Cygnet. I’m no great fan of this car but think a lot of positive things repose within its tiny body that could have been pointed out. I think the key word is “snarky”.

  5. I freaking love Doug. His enthusiasm and fun facts (aka quirks and features) are incredible (example: I can’t be the only one who didn’t know about the giant cargo compartments on the side of the Mclaren F1).

  6. I’m of the opinion there should be three things in every auto segment. A basic stripped down model, a performance model and a luxury model. That, of course, is relative to the segment. It’s best exemplified in pickups in America where Ford has the fleet F-150, The Raptor and the King Ranch and Platinum trims.

    So I like the idea of the Cygnet, but it missed on the relative to the segment part of the concept.

  7. Lots of Doug hate here, but that’s your loss because I GUARANTEE a vast majority of even the most seasoned car enthusiasts will learn at least something from his videos. His humor isn’t for me and he is frequently clueless or even wrong about the purpose/origin of various aspects of the cars, but he definitely delivers on his “quirks & features” tagline so you’ll see more of finer details of car than just about anywhere else. I’ve even found myself at car shows now looking for details I learned about while watching his videos that I would have otherwise been oblivious to.

  8. I really tried. I quit and restarted more than a dozen times. If this is what gets him clicks, fine. Just not mine. Editing this down to a dozen minutes might fix it.
    Won’t change the Quentin Tarantino’s special brother factor, but hearing him say three times as much WAY MORE THAN three times in a paragraph. FUCK THAT.

  9. I honestly don’t get the Doug hate. I can’t help but think folks need to reconsider their priorities if they have a problem with a guy that’s figured out how to get views on YT, and does actually like the weird things about cars. He’s harmless, and occasionally very entertaining.

  10. On one hand I get the Doug hate, on the other he really doesn’t bother me and his videos get really in depth on whatever he gets his hands on that I find interesting.
    Sure, his delivery and calculated schtick can be grating at times especially when he whoohoos driving anything quick, but when he goes in depth on something that is super interesting the guy digs in on all the weird shit I enjoy.
    So there is a duality of his work, because it obviously pulls a lot of flak from enthusiasts, but it is also very cookie cutter appealing car vid stuff at this point that helps the GENERAL ENTHUSIASM which is the whole point.
    Spreading the love without being a dick about it. Doug is weird but he isn’t a jerk unless you want to try to get into him not being born piss poor in the trunk of a lebaron.

  11. Mercedes Streeter will likely hate me for this but the iQ/Cygnet is a better Smart by being usefully larger and avoiding the horrible semi-auto transmission.
    With hindsight the Cygnet is a latter day Wood and Pickett Mini for driving down Carnaby Street.

    1. I used to be annoyed by him, but I’ve become a pretty big fan. One of the secrets to watching him: put youtube on 1.75x speed. He talks pretty slow to begin with, but if you speed him up the videos are only about 10-15 minutes; and much much more palatable.

    2. I actually don’t disagree with you!

      I had the pleasure of driving the iQ when it released in America. Aside from the CVT (I’d take Smart’s single clutch auto-manual over a CVT) it did *everything* better than my Smart.

      It was faster, quieter, and with a softer suspension. Oh, and far more practical.

      But, to me, it seemed like Toyota missed the mark on why weirdos like me buy Smarts. We don’t care about practicality, we just like how weird/stupid/absurd they are.

      But yeah, if you’re not one of us, the iQ is great!

  12. These ideas occured to me.. at different times and they both make sense.

    1. Ol Musky — Elon fucking Musk, makes cars for people LIKE HIM who REALLY COULDNT GIVE ONE HALF A FUCK about a car. This is why… those laptops with wheels on it and the idiots operating them for all the world to see… also have their idiot devices… going at the same time.

    2. Doug DeMuro makes videos for people.. who.. (in the dark, in mid winter, during a blizzard and you have to pee like a motherfucker) can change your front and rear lightbulbs, wipers, filters and do an oil change. (Have done this with only my hands as my eyes.) Just the thought of changing my wife’s tire on that dirtbox Focus she had.. STILL AGGRAVATES ME. FUCKERS PUT THE DAMN JACK POINT RIGHT UNDER THE BRAKE LINES. (And it wasnt just the end of a welded seam that ya stilted the vehicle on, they had some welded piece that was cantilevered — idiots.) People who watch his videos are amazed that they have shoes that match and that socks can only go on 1 way~!

  13. Doug is wrong that it is the dumbest car, that would be a Smart. the iQ gets better mileage, has an additional seat, more power, more torque, and greater range, and is faster though driving either of these at high speed seems insane. The Smart is one of the most inaptly named cars ever. the Nissan Rouge is a close second. The cost of the Cygnet is dumb though.

    1. While correct that the iQ has more power and more speed, the Fortwo actually did beat it in fuel economy.

      One thing that once surprised me is the fact that Smart absolutely annihilated the iQ in sales. It was about 2:1 in America and an even greater lead on the global market. I would have thought that the more practical car with lower running costs would have been a winner.

  14. I hope the executive who sold the entire automotive industry into using suede as a “premium material” is enjoying a luxurious retirement.

    Suede ages terribly and even when new still looks like regular fabric with greasy fingerprints all over.

    1. Having a car *loaded* with Alcantara you can keep it looking great if you put in the effort.

      Though yes, it’s *effort*. Real work involved, with some skill, and some specific tools and products.

      Biggest recommendation for a non-daily with an Alcantara steering wheel is to wear fingerless driving gloves. Reduces the effort in keeping the steering wheel nice by at least 90%.

      The thing that will make it a lot easier in coming years is when dry-ice cleaners come down in price (very much aimed at professionals right now) and become more user friendly. It vastly simplifies cleaning Alcantara

  15. I’d love to see some articles here written by Doug. His humour comes through much better when written than on video. He penned some great ones on the site that shall not be mentioned by name.

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