Aston Martin Cygnet V8 (2)

Aston Martin is a world-renowned marque, which has become synonymous with powerful, luxurious and sophisticated performance cars, not to mention a certain silver-tongued spy.

With such a storied legacy of manufacturing some of the greatest racing cars and horizon-chasing grand tourers of all time, it came as a surprise to many enthusiasts when Aston Martin introduced an unusual new model in 2011: the Cygnet. This ‘new’ car was a far cry from the marque’s usual performance cars.

Aston Martin Cygnet

Based on the Toyota iQ, the Cygnet was designed as “a luxury solution to urban mobility”, and was cosmetically reworked by the iconic British marque. Produced at Aston Martin’s Gaydon headquarters, the reimagined Japanese city car featured distinctive design cues, including authentic zinc side-strakes, bonnet vents, an instantly recognisable front grille, and the legendary badge, as well as a refined leather-trimmed interior.

The diminutive city car was marketed as a practical yet no-less-cosseting urban runabout, for effortlessly navigating overcrowded city centres and delivering you to your full-size grand tourer elsewhere.

Aston Martin Cygnet V8 (3)

Of course, the refined and easy-to-drive nature of Aston Martin’s modern sports cars meant that most owners were quite happy to continue using those as urban vehicles – and they boasted one key ingredient that the Cygnet lacked: a glorious V-type engine.

However, this week’s Wednesday One-Off was the bonkers but brilliant answer to what would have happened if the city car had inherited the muscular power of its sports car brethren: the Aston Martin Cygnet V8.

Aston Martin Cygnet V8 (4)

This ludicrous idea had first been explored by Aston Martin in 2012, though sadly the project never got off the ground. However, in 2018 a particularly loyal customer stepped forward who was willing to finance the project, and the engineers at Gaydon’s Q division were more than happy to oblige. Perhaps unfortunately for other enthusiasts, the wealthy customer reportedly gave Aston Martin one condition, that this project could only ever be a one-off.

As the name would suggest, the party piece of the Cygnet V8 was its naturally aspirated 4.7-litre engine sourced from an Aston Martin Vantage S, which delivered 430bhp to the rear wheels via a seven-speed ‘Speedshift’ automated manual transmission. Of course, this engine swap was no easy task, and Q division engineers needed to substantially revise the Cygnet to accommodate its powerful new engine.

Aston Martin Cygnet V8 (5)

A standard iQ chassis was modified with the front and rear subframes from a Vantage S, alongside many other key components, including the suspension, gearbox, wheels, brakes and track widths. In order to tie all these components together, an elaborate central subframe was fabricated to ensure that the Cygnet V8 would remain firmly planted on the road.

Inside, the cabin was transformed from a leather-clad luxury city car to a track-style specification. The entire dashboard and door cards were now made from bare carbon-fibre, the rear seats were removed, and the front seats were replaced with supportive wing-backed Recaro bucket seats. Buckled in with five-point Schroth Racing harnesses, the driver was faced with a quick-release Alcantara-trimmed steering wheel, as well as a Vantage instrument cluster and centre console layout.

Aston Martin Cygnet V8 (6)

As a result of all these alterations, the final product was a stocky and purposeful machine, with exuberantly wide wheel arch extensions, a set of 19-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels, and a prominent pair of sports exhaust pipes.

Even with the expanded footprint, the Cygnet V8 still remained remarkably compact, and weighing 250kg less than a Vantage, it offered unsurprisingly impressive performance. This true ‘pocket rocket’ was capable of sprinting from 0-60mph in just 4.2 seconds, and even boasted a claimed top speed of 170mph – if you were brave enough. The owner even specified the car without traction or stability control, just to add to the madness. Thankfully, the Cygnet had inherited the Vantage brakes to deliver reassuring stopping power.

Aston Martin Cygnet V8 (7)

The Cygnet V8 offered a unique driving experience, akin to a road-legal go-kart, but one with a jaw-dropping 430bhp. It may have entirely defeated the point of the Cygnet being a refined and practical city car, but it no doubt won over many enthusiasts who had up to that point simply ignored what they saw as an Aston Martin in name only.

Photo credit: Aston Martin

Have your say!

Your comment