The Cygnet might not be a conventional Aston Martin, but then it's not supposed to be. Filling a brief none of the company's sports cars could manage the Cygnet may buck convention, but it's not without merit.
In the metal 3.5/5
Lithe it isn't, but then this is an Aston Martin that's intended for tight city streets, speed bumps and underground car parks rather than sweeping bends, lap times and pit garages. So it's squat, and upright. If the Cygnet looks proportionally familiar that's because everything is not as it seems. Aston Martin's city car is a quick fix, a Toyota iQ that's been given an Aston Martin makeover. This odd mix is not entirely unsuccessful either, the big Aston grille, a vented bonnet, fog lamps, new taillights, nostril-like openings by the headlamps and Aston's signature front wing vent adding Aston style to unusual packaging.
Inside it's more of the same, with Aston's leather craftsmen and women having covered nearly every surface in hide. All apart from the top of the dash and around the wing mirror controls - which are a nasty, cheap feeling plastic. That's an oversight that some Alcantara and glue would quickly fix. Leather swaddled or not, the interior isn't quite as successful as hoodwinking as the exterior, though it's hardly the first Aston Martin to share switchgear...
Driving it 3/5
Get your head around the fact that you're driving an Aston Martin with a 11.6-second 0-100km/h time and about as much power as a One-77 uses to turn its air conditioning compressor and you'll enjoy the Cygnet. It's a party frock only so changes don't include anything mechanical. Hence it's identical to drive as the Toyota iQ upon which it's based. The iQ is a clever car though, and for all its lack of power (98hp here) the Cygnet retains the iQ's wide track, wheel in each corner stance. That makes it a bit of a giggle to drive, with stability that's more like a supermini or family hatch than a wobbly, tall town car. The steering is light on feel, but there's surprising grip, the Cygnet being the only Aston Martin you can drive flat out pretty much everywhere without fear for your licence. You need to do that if you want to make progress, as the engine needs revs, and the CVT auto (there is a manual option too) does mean it gets a bit raucous, but not necessarily in a bad way.
So it's slow, if not pitifully so, but when compared to Aston's other models the deficit in performance is vast. Accept that and pop the Cygnet in its proper urban environment and it is way better than any of its pouting, V8- or V12-engined relatives. Visibility all-round is decent - even if the privacy glass does limit the view out at night. You can park it nose to kerb, though you won't for fear of scraping the expensive Aston Martin paintwork and a car park is a cinch. If you're city-bound it makes a lot of sense.
What you get for your money 3/5
Compared with the car it's based on the Cygnet's list price looks absolutely preposterous - you could buy three Toyota iQs. That's viewing it from a man in the street's perspective though, as opposed to a gazillionaire's. When your watch costs as much as a house and the fuel bill for your boat is as much as an average wage the price of the Cygnet is utterly insignificant. It's a small, useful Aston Martin (for two, as those rear seats are best used for your Dunhill luggage) for parking at your Mayfair residence. There's air conditioning, satnav and lots of leather.
Economy isn't something you'd usually think about in an Aston Martin, but filling stations aren't as common as they once were and a pain in town. Combined consumption is 5.2 litres/100km (54.3mpg) with the CVT, though you'll improve on that with the manual, but it's more hassle around town.
The Cygnet is too easy a target for many to take shots at and sure, it's not an Aston Martin in the conventional sense, but the rich spend more time in cities than they do country estates. And the Cygnet undoubtedly works around town. The execution isn't perfect and a touch more power would help its cause, but it's not without appeal. Now if only Aston Martin would do something similar to the Toyota GT 86...