The only reason why Aston Martin slapped its wing badge on the Toyota iQ was to drive down emissions at a time when it really needed to cut back and comply with the 2012 fleet average emissions imposed by the European Union. Initially sold in the U.K. before reaching other European markets, the Cygnet was more or less an iQ dipped in soft leather.

It survived on the market for just two years. Why? Sales were extremely poor and well below Gaydon’s target. Aston Martin had hoped to move 4,000 units per year, but only a few hundred were sold. One of them was this car, which was recently modified after the owner’s request to ditch the standard 1.3-liter unit to shoehorn a V8 engine from the old Vantage S, thus creating a veritable pocket rocket.

See it in action

Top Gear magazine had a chance to spend some time with the one-off Cygnet and its 430 horsepower delivered to the rear wheels. The 4.7-liter engine was not the only component borrowed from the Vantage S as the pint-sized car also inherited the front and rear subframes. To make room for those 19-inch wheels, Aston Martin had to install beefy carbon fiber wheel arches.

Getting inside the cabin is a bit tricky due to the roll cage, but that’s the sacrifice the owner is willing to make to own the one-of-a-kind Cygnet with a Vantage heart. There’s carbon fiber just about everywhere, along with body-hugging Recaro seats and some controls inherited from the Vantage. Top Gear fired up the engine and it sounds positively glorious thanks to a bespoke exhaust system, which has to be one of the shortest ever fitted to a V8-powered car.

It may be a lot heavier than the regular three-cylinder Cygnet, but the feisty V8 machine makes up for that with a much more powerful engine. It enables Aston Martin’s smallest model to reach 62 mph (100 kph) in 4.2 seconds en route to a top speed 170 mph (274 kph). How many city cars do you know that can do this?

Source: Top Gear / YouTube

Gallery: Aston Martin Cygnet V8 concept

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