During the mid-2000s, Aston Martin exploited a loophole in European emissions regulations by rebadging a small Toyota city car, the IQ, into a model of its own.
The original rebadged Toyota IQ was named the Aston Martin Cygnet, a coupe not much bigger than a Smart car with a 1.3-litre, four-cylinder engine.
European emissions regulations at the time required a fleet average of below 130g/km of carbon by 2012 – but what Aston Martin initially thought to be a masterstroke of compliance turned out to be a sales disaster.
The small car cost three-times as much as the equivalent Toyota, and after just two years with no more than 300 cars sold in total, the Cygnet was cancelled.
It was a long way from the projected target of 4,000 per year.
One customer, however, commissioned Aston Martin’s Q division – its bespoke manufacturing arm that produced marvels like the Vulcan – to build what would become the one-off Cygnet V8.
In June 2018, to the surprise of an Aston Martin salesman in the UK, the customer commissioned a custom 4.7-litre, V8 version of Aston’s smallest-ever car.
This was not a chop-shop, hot-rod special, either, and was to be produced in-house by Aston Martin’s Q division.
This one-off Cygnet pumped up performance using the engine, transmission, suspension, brakes, and wheels from the Aston Martin V8 Vantage S – a car nearly double its size.
Gaining 3.4 litres of capacity and four cylinders more than the original engine, the front-engined Cygnet V8 put out 321kW and 490Nm to its rear wheels.
The short wheelbase did well to complement all that power, too.
Where the original Cygnet city car may have done a top speed of 170km/h, the V8 achieved 273km/h.
To keep a car this small safe, the interior was very racecar-like – and not nearly as luxurious as the original.
Carbon fiber bucket seats, an integrated roll cage, and five-point harnesses meant the car was right at home at the Goodwood hillclimb.
With an estimated cost of between R4.8 million and R9.5 million, it’s unlikely there will ever another Cygnet V8 made.