Badge engineering projects are usually undertaken by manufacturers to try and squeeze the maximum return from their investment by selling a car as something else. We all know there are still people faithfully buy only one brand, even if it is re-badged from another.
Then we have the marriages of convenience which produce something totally unexpected to get around a rule or two. The Aston Martin Cygnet is just such a progeny.
The European Union imposed a regulation that looked at the fleet average figure for CO2 emissions rather than individual vehicles. The EU set a 2015 target of 130 g/km for this fleet average. For mainstream manufacturers such as Ford and Toyota this was easily accommodated as they sold vehicles right across the spectrum from super-mini urban cars to sports cars.
For companies such as Aston Martin, however, it was nearly impossible. All of their vehicles were sports cars with higher emissions than the regulations allowed. Step forward the Toyota IQ, rebadged as an Aston Martin Cygnet to drag the average figure down a bit.
Despite costing three times as much as the Toyota, Aston Martin tried to justify the £30,000 price tag by saying it had been substantially re-engineered and much improved. The company also confidently predicted annual sales of over 4,000 units, stating that existing Aston owners would be flooding in to buy them.
These predictions proved to be massively fanciful. They sold only 150 Cygnets in the UK and just 300 worldwide. The project was cancelled a year later, making it the shortest run production Aston Martin ever.
One more special edition Cygnet was made, though, for an Aston customer. But this had a 430hp 4.7 litre V8 engine from a Vantage S.
Singulato get in on the act…
The Toyota IQ continued only until 2015 but was briefly reborn in 2019 at the Shanghai Auto Show. This time badged as a iC3 from the Chinese EV manufacturer Singulato.