Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Forget the Cygnet. Toyota and Aston should team up to make a proper small car

WHAT do you get if you cross Britain’s coolest brand with one of my favourite small cars? A sales flop in the making, apparently.

You might already know that Aston Martin, makers of James Bond’s motors of choice, have taken the axe to their smallest model, after just three years. It joins the Tickford Metro and the Panther Rio in the list of expensive-but-not-expansive relics that show why kitting out small cars with just about every extra imaginable just doesn’t work. I’m not surprised; given the choice between a Toyota iQ that’s had its price trebled or a shiny new Lotus Elise, I know which I’d take.

The Cygnet’s story of the ugly duckling not quite turning into the swan Aston had hoped is – if you’ve been reading the motoring magazines at least – well documented, but its demise has put a more important truth in the shade.

The Toyota iQ, the car the Cygnet’s based on, is an absolute belter.

I remember first driving one on the country lanes of North Wales four years ago and being amazed at how well what looks like a washing machine on wheels handles. Considering I’d just stepped out of an original Mini and hopped straight into the weirdly-proportioned baby Toyota, I remember being blown away by how surefooted it felt.

The big news back in 2009 was that the iQ could squeeze four people into the same space Smart managed to get two, although the tradeoff was forever having to choose between your mates and your luggage. It was – and, I reckon, still is – a very cleverly engineered little car which manages to fit an impossibly great deal of stuff into what should be an unreasonably small space. Not unlike what my beloved Mini managed all those years ago!

In fact, the reason why the iQ isn’t on every other driveway in the land – even though it costs a third of what the Cygnet did – is down to a problem of Toyota’s own doing. Wander into one of its showrooms and you can also buy something called the Aygo, which might not be as extravagantly engineered but it’s even more fun to drive, has room for mates AND luggage at the same time and costs less to buy. It’s a win win for the world’s biggest car company, of course, but probably not for clever cars that appeal to people like me.

Unless, of course, Aston and Toyota team up and create a small car that doesn’t have the oddball factor. A GT86 sports car with Aston trimmings and the badge to match? Yes please!

1 comment:

  1. That team-up that you suggested sounds promising. And more so because smaller cars gain more popularity as the day passes. What Aston Martin suffered through the flop sales of the Cygnet is disappointing though; yet it is expected. The competition in the small car market is saturated because of the demand, and buying a small car for a hefty sum sort of defeats the vehicle's purpose, with the exception of some.

    Paul Crabtree @