Aston hopes its unique V8 Cygnet will spur owners to commission special one-offs
Aston Martin’s Q division, creators of the wild V8-powered Cygnet that starred at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, is inviting pitches from clients for further one-off creations to be built.
The V8 Cygnet was commissioned by an Aston collector after he heard the brand had previously toyed with the idea of combining the body of the Toyota iQ-based city car with the running gear of the previous-generation Vantage S. Aston has agreed as part of the deal to never make another, ensuring the road-legal one-off is truly exclusive.
The Gaydon-based car maker has refused to give the exact price of the project but admits the owner has spent more than would be required to buy one of its regular supercars. Q division has said anyone with a similarly ambitious dream for one of the company’s other products is invited to get in touch.
Performance feels as solid as the claimed 4.2sec 0-62mph time suggests
The engineering behind the V8 Cygnet was anything but simple, according to Dan Wood, one of the prototype build technicians who put the car together over a 10-month period. He said: “If we were going to do it, we had to do it properly. We had to create a car worthy of the Aston badge.”
The city car’s compact body has been combined with the front and rear subframes, 4.7-litre V8 and seven-speed automated single-clutch transmission of the Vantage S. Getting the engine to fit was the first challenge, with a new front bulkhead positioned around a foot further back than in a normal Cygnet.
The car had to become a strict two-seater as a result, with an offset driving position and an all-new carbonfibre dashboard. A full roll cage ensures structural integrity and safety. Some of the original Toyota-based switchgear has been ditched to give it a bespoke feel, with Aston’s trademark glass start key and dashboard-mounted gearshift buttons drafted in.
With no shortage of money-no-object car enthusiasts around the world, there are likely to be more wild and unique creations from Aston’s Q division in the near future. Until then, we’ve had our first go behind the wheel of Aston’s maddest creation yet (below).
WE DRIVE THE MAD V8 CYGNET
I’m grinning, the guard in the gatehouse is laughing and workers walking down the access road that Aston Martin’s Gaydon HQ shares with Jaguar Land Rover’s huge engineering base are pointing and scrambling to take pictures on their phones.
Well before reaching the national road network, this Cygnet’s status as a crowd pleaser has been confirmed, the attention won by its snarling V8 soundtrack turning to amazed incredulity when people see where it is coming from.
What it doesn’t feel like is a lash-up. Indeed, from the hugging embrace of the driver’s seat, it feels like a V8 Cygnet has always been part of the company’s extensive model plan. The driving position is higher than in the Vantage, and the shifted bulkhead has moved the pedals back to an ankle-cricking degree.
But the dynamic cues are the same as in the donor Vantage, with similarly weighted steering and the same proportional throttle response. The gearshift can get confused with overly rapid instructions through the steering wheel paddles, but performance feels as solid as the claimed 4.2sec 0-62mph time suggests.
Some of those who drove the car at the Goodwood Festival of Speed reported it feeling twitchy under hard braking but, on the lesser loadings appropriate to a 30-mile road route around Gaydon, it feels stable enough. There’s no stability control – apparently at the owner’s request – and overlapping throttle and big steering input creates the sensation of an impending slide; not something the shortness of the wheelbase gives me any ambition to investigate further. But the limits are well flagged and the Cygnet doesn’t feel anything like as difficult to control as it probably should.
The V8 Cygnet is always loud and – despite the best efforts of the air-con – the cabin stays sticky in moderate summer heat. The ride also gets uncomfortably choppy over rougher road surfaces. But set against the majesty of the overall project, and even the size of the budget necessary to realise it, such complaints are barely niggles. This is probably the coolest car I’ve ever driven. MD