It’s back… and this time it’s angry. V8, 430bhp angry. It’s Aston Martin’s unlikeliest car ever in a form no one imagined possible. That stubby, flared-arch green blob you see scuttling up the Goodwood Hillclimb is indeed an Aston Martin Cygnet.
Aston Martin's crazy V8 Cygnet revealed
The one-off baby bombshell, commissioned from Aston Martin’s bespoke Q division, is making its world debut at the 2018 Festival of Speed presented by Mastercard, proving the biggest surprises really do come in the smallest packages.
Remember the Cygnet? It was Aston’s reworked version of the diminutive Toyota IQ city car, repainted and retrimmed to Aston perfection, that went on sale in 2011 as an upmarket fuel economy special. A £31,000 tag took the shine off it for many and against predicted sales of 4000 it struggled to 150 cars in the UK before being ditched in 2013.
With a new broom at Aston since then, we thought we had seen the last of the baby swan, branded at the time by one magazine as the daftest car of the century. But no. The Cygnet has returned. And this time it’s fully fledged and with its 170mph top speed is completely – wonderfully – crazy.
While the 2011 Cygnet stayed mechanically true to the iQ, with its 97bhp 1.3-litre four-pot motor and front-wheel drive, the V8 Cygnet turns everything on its head.
The complete mechanical reworking starts with a roll cage welded inside and the 4.7-litre 430bhp normally-aspirated V8 (from the just-replaced Vantage S) dropped into the nose behind a new bulkhead. It’s mated to the seven-speed Sportshift II transmission which delivers power to the rear wheels via a torque tube. Aston says it is a very short torque tube…
Subframes, suspension and big disc brakes, six-piston up front with bright yellow calipers, are also derived from the Vantage. The rear wheels do all the work of delivering the 430bhp and 361lb ft of torque. They have grown in size from 16 to 19 inches and at 9.5J are almost twice as wide as the wheels on the iQ. Hence the unmissable wheelarch extensions, all in carbon-composite.
Inside there are familiar Vantage dials on the carbon dash, Alcantara trim, shapely Recaro buckets for two and, reinforcing the competition potential of the V8 Cygnet, FIA fire extinguisher and four-point harnesses. A racing baby swan? Watch this space…
It’s small, it’s powerful and even at 1375kg it boasts a power-to-weight ratio of 313bhp per tonne. So it’s fast: Aston says 170mph and 0-62mph in 4.2 seconds, which is quicker than the old Vantage S. And a lot quicker than the 1.3 Cygnet from 2011. That took 11.8 seconds!
The twin exhaust pipes are said to bellow in true Aston Martin fashion, but we will find that out for ourselves when the car hits the Goodwood Hillclimb for its daily runs in the First Glance class. “I am sure it will amaze and thrill people when they see and hear it on the hill,” David King, Aston Martin’s special ops chief, tells us.
“The V8 Cygnet shows the fun side of both Aston Martin and its customers. It is also a fine example of our engineering talent. It was no small achievement to fit the Vantage’s V8 engine so harmoniously into the compact body of our little city car.”
Q by Aston Martin was commissioned by a customer to take the V8 Cygnet challenge. No one’s saying what it cost, but it will likely make the original Cygnet’s £31,000 appear something of a bargain…
And one thing for sure: it’s unlikely to do 57 miles per gallon…
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