The Aston Martin Cygnet is perfect for inner-city fans of the brand. For the rest, it's an expensive and quirky distraction

Find Used Aston Martin Cygnet 2011-2013 review deals
Offers from our trusted partners on this car and its predecessors...
Used car deals
From £27,989
Sell your car
In partnership with
Powered by

To the majority of buyers of today’s conventional city cars, the launch of the new Aston Martin Cygnet must rank as one of the daftest this century. For most of them, small means cheap, and the Cygnet breaks every rule.

At more than £30,000 new, the baby Aston costs more than double the price of the Toyota iQ that donated all its major components — body, chassis, suspension, engine and transmission.

The Cygnet's not a bad car to drive and if you want a small car with an Aston badge, then here's your answer

For the extra money you get a proper Aston Martin paint job, a superb hand-fitted and bespoke interior (with as many leather hides in it as are needed to trim a DB9), a series of body mods that give the Cygnet its own visual identity (including a superb extruded aluminium grille from the same supplier as does for the £1million One-77) and the magic of the Aston Martin name.

The Cygnet is quite different from any other Aston Martin. At just three metres in overall length it is the smallest Aston in history. It is its first dedicated city car, and it is probably the slowest Aston in modern times, achieving just 106 mph flat-out, and sprinting from 0-60 mph in 11.5sec — more than twice the time it takes any other contemporary Aston.

Why do we need it? First, because Aston realises that many of its owners also need nippy inner-city transport, and figured they would enjoy driving a luxurious baby Aston if there were one available.

Back to top

Second, because tough taxes are coming for manufacturers of thirsty cars; the Cygnet’s combined consumption of 54 mpg, plus its modest 120g/km CO2 output, help counterbalance Aston’s monsters. Actually, with the optional CVT these figures are hardly special for such a small car, but they’re a helluva lot better than what you get from a DB9.

In the flesh, the Cygnet is impressive. The Aston paint process gives it a glass-like paint finish (they use the same finishing techniques as for a £150,000 Aston) and once you sample the comfort of the hand-finished interior, with every surface covered either in handbag-quality leather, Alcantara or first-quality carpet, you start to see the millionaire’s case for the Cygnet.

The major components may be by Toyota (and none the worse for that) but the see-touch-feel details are Aston’s own, things such as new instrument graphics, special metal inner door handles, a superb polished alloy gear-gate, a bespoke alloy shift lever and lots more.

On the road, unsurprisingly, the car is all iQ, quietened somewhat by its denser trim. Even the tyre sizes are iQ, though the wheels (standard eight-spoke alloys or an optional 16-spoke set) are designed in Aston’s own studios.

The 97bhp four-cylinder engine feels and sounds energetic up to 50-60 mph. The optional CVT transmission gives easy step-off at traffic lights. In a city car such as this it it’s a much better option than any fiddly five-speed manual transmission

The Cygnet can produce a quite refined cruising performance on motorways if necessary, though passing performance isn’t its forte.

The steering is feather-light and nicely accurate. If you haven’t sampled an iQ you’ll be surprised by the sheer pleasure that flows from using its scooter-like turning circle, especially when it’s a viable three-seater, that can occasionally cope with four – just – if you don’t mind having no boot space.

But whether you should actually buy one depends on who you are. If you’re rich and open to the concept of a luxurious little city car that can be selected from the options list of a new Aston supercar, you may love the Aston Martin Cygnet.

Back to top

Around 400 people, nearly all big Aston owners, ordered a Cygnet as soon as it was announced. If you’re not one of these people, don’t worry about it. Just don’t give the Aston Martin Cygnet another thought.

Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.