Remember the Cygnet? Of course you do – it was Aston Martin’s most famous cock-up in the company’s 105-year history. Well it’s back, only instead of 97 horsepower, now it has a 430bhp V8…
When Aston Martin needed to balance out the emissions a little bit in order to please European regulators in 2011, the British sports car company was forced to rummage around in the bargain bin. Aston came up with a solution by tarting up a Toyota iQ and parading it around as a urban runabout for the one-percenters. With a 1.3-litre four-cylinder engine making less than 100 horsepower, the frugal little Aston Martin was supposed to lower Gaydon’s fleet emissions.
In order to do that the Cygnet was supposed to sell 4,000 units per year to offset the company’s other wares, thirsty V12s and V8s. Unfortunately for Aston Martin everybody saw the Cygnet for what it was, a Toyota at three times the price. Naturally no one bought one and Gaydon was forced to stop playing dress-up with iQs after just two years on the market.
Evidently there was still an iQ hanging about the place, because Aston Martin stuffed a V8 engine into one lucky donor for the Goodwood Festival of Speed this week to create the V8 Cygnet. The 4.7-litre lump comes form an old Vantage S (if you want to read about the new one, go here), producing 430 horsepower for a power-to-weight ratio of 313bhp per tonne. That makes this particular Cygnet pretty portly hitting the scales with 1,375kg ready to run, which is some 350kg more than the iQ.
Still, the V8 Cygnet certainly isn’t slow, reaching 100km/h from zero in less than 4.5 seconds with a seven-speed ‘box also out of a Vantage S driving the rear seats. In fact pretty much the entire rear subframe and suspension comes out of an old Vantage, while the front had to be refabbed to accommodate this much engine.
Then they increased the wheels from the stock 16s to 19-inch five-spokes, with Bridgestone tyres, much bigger brakes (380mm front discs and 330mm rears), and of course, just to remind you once again that this is not your average Toyota, some leather door pulls…
Making its public premiere at Goodwood as one of the entries in the famous hillclimb going through Lord March’s back yard, the V8 Cygnet ran the 1.86km course in anger but there’s been no time published yet. From the look of it the time could be around the one minute mark which makes the V8 Cygnet as quick as something like an Alfa Romeo 4C or a Porsche 911.