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Toyota's iQ gets new... inspiration
Aston Martin Cygnet concept flirts with urban commuters
While the iQ
3 adds the 1.33-litre engine with Stop & Start

Aston Martin Cygnet concept
The door to Change... with a big "C"

Aston Martin Signet concept car.

Of course, Aston Martin is one of the top supercars brands. But why shouldn't it also offer a completely different line of cars? Famous for its 911 model for decades, Porsche did enter the SUV segment with the Cayenne in 2002. The Cygnet concept is based on the Toyota iQ? Fine, the Cayenne is the brother of the Volkswagen Touareg.

Being based on the Toyota iQ, Aston Martin's Cygnet concept opens several horizons, not one.

First, it opens the door to more business volume, even if profit margins are very different here.

Second, small cars with limited consumption and emissions will lower the average fuel consumption / emissions of the whole range of a brand known for its fast and consequently more consuming and polluting engines (like any fast car basically).

Third, the move to small car segments opens the way to other changes beyond the traditionally expected boundaries. Tomorrow, Aston Martin will add the four-door Rapid sedan (deliveries from early next year) and the iQ-based city model (late next year), but the door can also be considered opened to hybrid, purely electric or even fuel cell vehicles, in different segments and categories. This may be the most important door opened now with the ‘Cygnet’ concept. Big C for Change, not just for Cygnet.  

Rather than remaining stuck in the image of a manufacturer of super fast and consuming cars, the ‘Cygnet’ concept adds an environmentally conscious image, being small, highly fuel efficient... with the prestige of Aston Martin’s luxury image.

The collaboration does make sense. Aston Martin is one of the top exclusive brands and Toyota is since last year, the world leader in volume sales.

What about producing the Cygnet concept?

Aston Martin Chief Executive, Dr Ulrich Bez said: "Now is the right time for Aston Martin to take this first bold step to embark on this special project..."

"Much work is still required, but I am confident that this project could become reality in the not too distant future. This concept... will allow us to apply Aston Martin design language, craftsmanship and brand values to a completely new segment of the market."

"The offering of a ‘Cygnet’ with a DBS, DB9 or Vantage is a unique combination of opposites and a novel transport solution allowing intelligent and sensitive mobility on an exclusive and innovative level."

So, the Signet will be adapted at Gaydon in the UK, and sold from late next year, with prices expected from around twenty five thousand euros.

APN

01 July 2009.

Taking into account the strength of Aston Martin's image as a super cars maker, the development of the British brand's new luxury commuter concept, the ‘Cygnet’, does not only represent a clever move, but even a courageous one, since it is not only getting into a totally new segment for the brand (to be produced and launched late next year), but also based on the Toyota iQ (see opposite box).

The comparison might look different in some regards, but the move can remind us somehow of the other decision taken by Porsche a few years ago, when it did not only enter the crossover SUV market (2002), but it did even base its Cayenne SUV on the Volkswagen Touareg platform.

Anyway, before Aston Martin's city car arrives, here comes today Toyota's sportiest iQ version, the iQ3, with the 98bhp 1.33 Dual VVT-i petrol engine, the Optimal Drive and Stop & Start systems, with prices starting in the UK from GB£11,495 (manual) and £12,495 (Multidrive).

In the new iQ3 , the 4-cylinder 1.33-litre engine (also available with the Auris, Yaris and Urban Cruiser models) combines the Toyota Optimal Drive technology with Dual VVT-i control of both intake and exhaust valves. It is available either with a six-speed manual transmission, or with Toyota's new Multidrive CVT (continuously variable transmission).

  Performance

 

With the compact and lightweight manual gearbox, iQ3 returns in the combined cycle driving an official 58.9 UK mpg (equivalent to 49 US mpg, 4.8 litres per 100 km, or 20.8 kms per litre), with 113g/km of CO2 emissions (Band B for road tax in the UK, with £35 annual charge).

Toyota iQ3: front view.

iQ3: available with a six-speed manual or Multidrive CVT.

With the Multidrive CVT gearbox, fuel economy is the same, but CO2 emissions rise slightly to 120g/km (still within Band B in the UK).

In terms of performance, the engine develops a maximum 73 kW (99hp, 98bhp) at 6,000rpm and peak torque of 125Nm at 4,400rpm. Nought to 62mph (100 km/h) can be achieved in 11.8 seconds (11.6 with Multidrive) on the way to a top speed of 106mph (170 km/h).

  Stop & Start

With the manual gearbox, the 1.33-litre engine gets Toyota’s Stop & Start system, which automatically cuts the engine when the car comes to a stop and the gear shift is moved to neutral.

Toyota iQ3: rear view.

iQ3 gets Toyota’s Stop & Start (with the manual gearbox).

Toyota says that when a gear is selected, the engine restarts quickly (in 0.4 seconds) and seamlessly, thanks to the use of a permanently engaged gear mechanism. In urban driving, Stop & Start can yield fuel consumption savings of up to 15 per cent.

Toyota also indicates that one of the key elements of the 1.33-litre engine is its piston design. Smaller and lighter than on the previous 1.3 unit, the new pistons are designed with a smaller contact area and use carbon ceramide material to reduce friction.

  Equipment

Toyota iQ: nine airbags around the cabin.

Nine airbags covering the 4 sides of the cabin.

 

iQ3 carries forward the specification of iQ2 (3-cylinder petrol engine, 996 cm3, 50 kW/68 hp) but with some additional features: the door mirrors have chrome-finished housings and the car rides on larger, 16-inch dual five-spoke alloy wheels. The choice of six paint finishes includes Decuma Grey metallic, which is also exclusive to iQ3.

The standard equipment features include automatic headlights and wipers, climate control, electric folding and heated door mirrors, Smart Entry and Start, auto-dimming rear view mirror, six-speaker sound system, front fog lights and a leather trimmed steering wheel. Nine airbags are fitted, including the world’s first rear window airbag (launched with the iQ model, it deploys from the roof lining above the rear window, in the form of a curtain-like barrier), and the active safety package includes Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) with Traction Control (TRC).

  Accessories

Toyota iQ: the rear window airbag deploys from the roof lining.

Rear window airbag: deploys from the roof lining.

 

Four accessory packs are designed for the iQ model.

The iStyle (£295) pack comes with chrome surrounds to the front fog lights, chrome side sills, a chrome strip on the tailgate and aluminium scuff plates.

The iUrban (£345) pack provides rear parking sensors, a reversible rubber/velour boot liner (for use when the rear seats are folded flat) and carpet mats.

For sporty-oriented tastes, the iSports (£495) pack focuses on style with a neat roof spoiler, deep rear skirt and inverted delta-shape chrome exhaust tailpipe finisher.

The fourth pack, iConnect (£375) brings Bluetooth connectivity and a detachable Glovebag to store documents and small personal items.

The iQ3 version adds two extra-cost options: leather seat upholstery (£690) and a fully integrated satellite navigation system with Bluetooth and iPod integration (£930).

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