THE ASTON MARTIN CYGNET concept revealed last week, based on the Toyota iQ, might seem like a pairing akin to Ronald McDonald serving supper to the Queen of England, but CEO Dr Ulrich Bez promises the Cygnet is more Aston than not.
Speaking with the UK's Auto Express magazine, Dr Bez said the Cygnet represents an opportunity for buyers used to a level of luxury to experience that same refinement and class in the small car segment.
?Until now, small cars offered a message that people are buying something cheap,? Bez said.
?The Cygnet will show that small cars can also make a statement. It will be an intelligent purchase for people concerned about the environment, but who also want to enjoy all the luxury associated with a premium brand such as Aston Martin.?
Dr Bez said that there would be "no compromise" in the Cygnet, and that the company would make available all of the trim and customisation options a buyer could expect from any of Aston Martin's high performance range.
The decision to go ahead with the pint-sized two-door project was ostensibly made to prepare the British marque for incoming European Union legislation that will require automakers to reduce the overall emissions of their offerings.
Introducing a fuel-sipping minicar to a range dominated by high-powered V8s and V12s is a quick and easy way of improving the company's fleet emissions. THis will mean Aston Martin won't need to invest significant amounts of money creating its own eco-friendly car before 2012, when the new regulations kick in.
Ferrari and Lamborghini are able to get around the impending law changes thanks to their respective parent companies being able to absorb the high emissions and low fuel economy numbers of their supercars. Being a largely independent company, Aston Martin has no such luxury.
The Toyota iQ upon which the Aston minicar will be based wheezes out around 99 grams of CO2 per kilometre - not enough to bring Aston Martin's fleet average under the projected 130g/km target, but certainly enough to reduce any penalties for not doing so.
The tiny Aston Cygnet will likely be a shade under three metres in length, weigh more than its Toyota-badged counterpart and be powered by the iQ's three-cylinder petrol motor.
With only a quarter the amount of cylinders as Aston's most recent vehicle, the V12 Vantage, it's unclear what effect the FWD Cygnet will have on brand perception, however the British automaker assures us that it will be kitted out with luxury features and appointments that properly befit its badge.
It's only a concept for now, but the sole teaser image released shows a design that's unmistakeably Aston - albeit one that's less sleek and much, much more cartoonish in its proportions.
?Now is the right time for Aston Martin to take this first bold step to embark on this special project," Dr Bez said.
?Much work is still required, but I am confident that this project could become reality in the not too distant future. This concept ? akin to an exclusive tender to a luxury yacht ? will allow us to apply Aston Martin design language, craftsmanship and brand values to a completely new segment of the market.?
A solid release date, pricing and production volumes have yet to be announced.