Cygnet: the unacceptable face of Aston Martin?

Here’s a question for you. Will the Aston Martin Cygnet ever be considered acceptable? Will you, for example, ever look at one and think, you know what, that could be quite interesting? Or is it destined to spend the rest of its days consigned to the basement of Room 101?

I put it to you now that, and I hope you’re prepared for this, the Aston Martin Cygnet isn’t all that bad after all. No, really, I don’t.

Now the dust has settled and the outpouring of hate has been reduced to a mild trickle, the Aston Martin Cygnet is beginning to register on PetrolBlog’s radar. It’s a minor pulse of activity, I grant you, but it’s there. And in the same way that something like an early Kia Magentis can become desirable after the depreciation monster has done its bit and the car has been giving time to develop a bit of character, the little Cygnet can only become more appealing with the passing of time.

Here’s the thing – I never really got the initial hatred in the first place. Aston Martin needed a car to bring down its average CO2 emissions figure and – rather than divert its attention away from making things like the new Rapide S or CC100 Speedster – it struck a deal with Toyota to rebadge the IQ. And what’s wrong with that?

Aston Martin Cygnet

Is the Cygnet really such a scab on the history and heritage of one of Britain’s great marques? Does the Cygnet detract from the outrageousness of the sublime CC100 Speedster Concept? Of course not. Are we to watch the dramatic closing scenes in Skyfall, only to announce afterwards, “that Aston Martin DB4 was beautiful until they decided to stain its existence with the monstrosity they call the Cygnet”? No.

And actually, is it really such a bad thing? The last time I looked, the Ferrari brand was being commercialised to within an inch of its life by countless sun hats, teddy bears, polo shirts and aftershave. Lamborghini – purveyors of hypercars – started out by making tractors. If Aston Martin is guilty of anything, it’s merely in its attempts to convince us that the Cygnet is a result of a long standing ambition to build a ‘luxury solution to urban mobility’. It’s not.

I’m not going to defend the Aston Martin Cygnet’s initial price tag. £30,995 – or £32,115 if you opt for the CVT ‘box (which, incidentally, you shouldn’t) – is an obscene amount of money to spend on what is essentially a dressed-up £12,995 Toyota IQ. No amount of Bridge of Weir leather, Alcantara headlining or hand-stitched door inserts would ever convince me that £31k is good value for a city car. If you want a luxurious supermini, go and buy a Renault Clio Baccara off eBay and save yourself £30k. While you’re at it, buy yourself some Aston Martin badges too. Actually, no, don’t do that.

Aston Martin Cygnet interior

But – and honestly, this is where the Aston Martin Cygnet really becomes interesting – no car is immune to the ravages of depreciation. And this means that today, should you fancy it, you can buy a two-year old Cygnet for less than £20,000. Even a 2012 car can be yours for £22,000. And the depreciation won’t stop there.

Give it a couple more years and, if you believe the depreciation calculators, the Aston Cygnet will be worth £10,000. Now it’s becoming really interesting. See how many other four-year old Aston Martins you can purchase for ten bags of sand.

A lot of this depends on the depreciation curve. At the moment, it would appear that the Aston Martin Cygnet is defying the odds and retaining its value pretty well. By now, a 2011 car should be worth less than £15,000. Good luck finding one for that price. And actually, will Aston Martin allow values to get as low as £10k? Who’s to say the company won’t buy them all back for management/dealer purposes?

Time to cut the Aston Martin Cygnet some slack? It’s a car for the modern era and it’s actually based on one of the best city cars money can buy. Crucially, the Cygnet retains all the IQ’s best bits – so the body, chassis, suspension, engine and transmission are all untouched. And it’s not as though Aston Martin has slapped a few badges on it, before shouting “hey presto”.

That interior is a thing of beauty and the paintwork is presented in the same glass-like finish as you’d find on any other Aston Martin. The iconic grille is even made by the same firm that created the version seen on the One-77. If I’m honest, I’m less convinced by the Halfords-effect rear lights, but front-on, the Cygnet just works. Especially those delightful zinc bonnet meshes.

Aston Martin Cygnet rear

Still not convinced? Well look at it from a purely financial perspective. If the depreciation predictions are right, an Aston Martin Cygnet will retain 33% of its value after four years. That’s 1% more than the Toyota IQ and 4% more than the Aston Martin DB9. So pound for pound, it’s the wisest investment. And that’s before taking into account what I believe are pessimistic predictions.

But going back to the original question, will the Aston Martin Cygnet ever be considered acceptable? That’s down to you.

Maybe we should revisit the topic in another two years time? A chance to buy an Aston Martin, barely out of warranty, for the price of a brand new Kia Rio. Ask yourself this, what sounds better? “I’m just popping out to get some milk in the Aston”, or “I’m just nipping out to get some milk – I’ll take the Kia”.

I’ll take the Aston.

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ABOUT AUTHOR
Gavin Big-Surname
The chief waffler and founder of PetrolBlog in 2010. Has a rather unhealthy obsession with cars from the 80s and 90s, and is on a one-man mission to collect the cars nobody else wants. Also likes tea and Hobnobs.

12 comments

  1. June 6, 2013
    Simon Hingston

    It is, but only if it did actually mean the proper cars stayed proper. Probably slightly diluted by every new Fiesta trying to look like an Aston too.

    Reply
    • June 6, 2013
      Gavin Big-Surname

      Heh. I’m not a fan of the new Fiesta’s styling. Although the ST is a peach of a car.

      Reply
  2. June 6, 2013
    Antony Ingram

    I’m in partial agreement. The Cygnet isn’t pretending to be a sports car (even if it *is* pretending to be an Aston Martin) so cannot be judged by the same methods.

    Also intrigued to see what used price they come down to.

    However as a new car, I’m not sure it could ever make sense. I don’t know how much those mega-breathed on BRABUS smart fortwos always seen at the motor shows cost, but even if it gets within £5k of the Cygnet it’d still appeal to me more.

    Or just find me a mint Renault 5 Monaco…

    Reply
    • June 6, 2013
      Gavin Big-Surname

      I looked today – a new Smart Fortwo Brabus will set you back just over £15k. Makes the Cygnet look like good value. Almost!

      As you say, the Cygnet will never make sense new. But £10k. Has to be tempting, right?

      Reply
      • June 7, 2013
        Antony Ingram

        Intrigued to see whether they ever reach true bargain territory. AM isn’t exactly selling many of them…

        Reply
  3. June 6, 2013
    richard aucock

    Could not agree more, Gavin. It’s the Innocenti Mini for modern times (the mesmerising quality of the AM paint sees to that).

    It’s not necessarily one to duck below CO2 limits – derogation should see to that – but is, as you say, simply a great opportunistic way for Aston Martin to broaden its product line in a way that will appeal to its core customers.

    A few decades hence, we’ll be idolising them – mark my words…

    Reply
    • June 6, 2013
      Gavin Big-Surname

      Cheers, Richard. Not really sure why I decided to write it to be honest, just felt it had to be said. Am prepared to be flamed for it and told to return my petrolhead badge!

      A future classic? An Aston Martin of the moment…

      Reply
  4. June 12, 2013
    Rachel Watson

    How many have been sold?

    I don’t think I’ve seen any about – but would I notice one if I did?!

    Reply
    • June 16, 2013
      Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

      At the last count, about 150!

      A rare old beast. Although not sure what the current figure is…

      Reply
  5. June 21, 2013
    Matt C

    The cheapest on on Autotrader is £17950……and…er…it looks alright :s … 11 plate, 6k miles…..

    It’s still mental…and ‘wrong’….but is it?

    Reply
    • June 21, 2013
      Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

      The lower the price, the more sense it makes.

      That’s the PetrolBlog way!

      Reply
  6. September 18, 2014
    Alastair

    I’ve actually seen two of these on the road now! The first one I saw was just after the new Fiesta was launched. It was driving towards me in traffic and I though “These new Fiesta’s really do look like Aston Martins”. Then as it got closer I realised it wasn’t a Fiesta. but an Aston Martin Cygnet!

    Reply

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