Think of Aston Martin and images of stunning grand tourers will surface. The company is known for luxurious and powerful sports cars. When Aston unveiled the Cygnet – a rebadged runabout called the Toyota iQ – eyebrows raised. No, Aston wasn't pushing into a new segment of luxury compact commuter cars – production lasted two years. The Cygnet helped reduce the company's fleet emissions at a crucial time. However, Aston disregarded these regulatory standards to create a one-off monstrosity for a customer – a V8-powered Cygnet.
We've seen the modified runabout tackle the Goodwood hill climb. We now have some driving impressions from Carfection host Henry Catchpole who was able to take the car up the hill during the event. His feelings aren't surprising. The car's short wheelbase means it moves around a lot under braking. The gearbox needs calibrating, too. However, those quirks didn't stop him from enjoying the 430-horsepower V8 from an Aston Martin Vantage S. He called the car “a lot of fun.”
Pack 430 hp into any 3,031-pound (1,375-kilogram) vehicle and it should be fun. The V8 engine and roll cage add some weight to the car, bringing it up from its standard curb weight of under 2,204 lbs (1,000 kgs). The car's small size provides a 50:50 front/rear weight distribution. To keep weight low in the chassis, Aston modified the interior to fit a pair of Recaro seats. It also installed a carbon fiber dashboard to counter the added weight.
The added V8 also ushered in an independent double wishbone front and rear suspension, larger brakes, 19-inch alloy wheels, and a rear-wheel-drive setup. Aston added carbon fiber wheel arches to fit the bigger tires and the wider track.
Performance improved over the 1.3-liter four-cylinder that's standard in the Cygnet. Zero to 62 miles per hour (100 kilometers per hour) takes 4.2 seconds with a top speed of 170 mph (274 kph), which seems like a recipe for white-knuckle driving considering Catchpole's previous comments about the car's stability. It still sounds delightful to drive, though.