There were a few hours in July, after we’d been given exclusive photos and details of a new Aston Martin, when we thought Autocar’s leg was being pulled. Sure enough, the car in the pictures was in an Aston Martin studio, with model makers applying the finishing touches to a full-scale model of an Aston. Only it looked suspiciously like, and indeed was, a Toyota iQ underneath.
It’s no joke: the Cygnet will be Aston Martin’s new model – a £25,000 Toyota derivation sold exclusively, at first at least, to existing Aston customers.
The official line is that the Cygnet will give Aston owners the luxury they’re used to, but in a city car. The truth is that the modifications will require re-homologation, lowering the average CO2 emissions of the Aston range – which might be useful in an age where charges will be based on a manufacturer’s range average.
Ferrari and Alfa will probably get around this by being part of a larger group of companies, so the Alfa 8C Spyder and soft-top version of the Ferrari 430 Scuderia, both launched in July, are unlikely to trouble the overall average too much. Likewise the Ferrari 458 Italia, replacement for the F430, for which we received first details during the summer.
During July, too, Porsche faced the prospect of being more closely integrated with a multinational, but not in the way it had hoped. Its audacious attempt to wrest control of Volkswagen failed and, following the ousting of CEO Wendelin Wiedeking, Porsche found the boot on the other foot. Wiedeking will have to console himself with a £43m pay-off.
That figure is more, even, than the Pheonix Four took out of MG Rover before its collapse (although they say it’s closer to £30m). The results of a report by accountants BDO Stoy Hayward into the affair were released in July and promptly referred to the Serious Fraud Office, whose report would take yet more months.