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First Drive: 2011 Aston Martin Cygnet (European Spec)


For Aston Martin to build a city car is quite a step. For Aston Martin to re-skin the Toyota Iq is a galactic leap. In Britain and the United States, the idea stirred up a storm on enthusiast forums. Calm down, everyone -- there's sense to the idea.

In Europe's city centers, congestion has a whole different meaning than in the U.S. It's not just traffic. The streets were laid down centuries before the automobile was invented. They're a narrow maze of tightly angled junctions, lined with obstructions, and awash with pedestrians. A standard delineated parking spot is about 185 inches long, but many unmarked curbside spaces are smaller. So across the Atlantic, owning a small car isn't just a money-saver. It can be an actual luxury. Driving is easier, and you can more easily squeeze into a parking space. The rich cherish those assets as much as the rest of us. It's not uncommon in London, Paris, or Rome to see Brabus-trimmed versions of the Smart that doubles that car's base price. The Aston Martin Cygnet can multiply the 1.3-liter iQ's entry price by a factor of three, without any mechanical changes. That means it's similar in price to a seriously optioned Mini Cooper S John Cooper Works.

 It does have bespoke Aston panels, except for the roof, and the interior is upholstered by Aston's artisans. The metalwork, from the radiator grille to the finishers around the transmission lever, is lovely solid sculpture.

Many Cygnet buyers already own Aston's other models; they tend to get their Cygnets built in a color scheme to match. And many One-77 buyers are ordering up to four coordinated Cygnets. So if forum trolls think the Cygnet is heresy, many actual Aston owners disagree. They're fed up with trying to thread their long-nosed, small-windowed GTs through tight streets. Performance in this environment isn't about 500-odd horsepower; it's more about rapid parking. A 121-inch overall length allows owners to do that.

(Source)


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