Thursday, July 16, 2009

Aston Martin's U-turn

blog post photo

What a difference a year makes.

In 2008, Aston Martin defied the recession and unveiled the world’s most expensive car: the One-77, which retailed at a staggering £1.2mn.

In 2009, with the downturn in full swing, the firm now says it will start selling a small version of the iconic sports car made famous by the spy with a licence to kill.

The new model, known as the ‘Cygnet’ or young swan, will be marketed at those people who can afford an ‘Aston’ but are reluctant to drive their high-performance car in town.

It will be based on Toyota’s iQ vehicle with a five-star Euro N CAP safety rating.

Not only will the car be smaller, but its price tag will shrink too.

When the Cygnet reaches showrooms, it's likely to retail at around £20,000 – which is almost 10 times less than the going rate for a new DBS, the model driven by James Bond in ‘Casino Royale.’

Richard Jackson, chairman of the Aston Martin Owners Club, welcomed the Cygnet’s arrival, telling me that aside from the appeal to city dwellers, a smaller Aston Martin may also be more attractive to women. (I concur)

Jackson has been an Aston Martin owner for 20 years and drives a DB5.

Yet Aston Martin is not alone in thinking ‘small is beautiful’ during these recessionary times, when gas-guzzling performance vehicles are not ‘in Vogue’ with the environmentally conscious.

Ferrari recently unveiled a smaller, comparatively affordable model, named the California, which the company reckons will appeal to those drivers seeking a more ‘versatile’ Ferrari.

'Versatile' and 'small' are two things my bank balance has in common with such flash vehicles at the moment so I’m glad to hear I can’t be tempted because the Cygnet will only go into production next year if the concept is well received.

Another reason why I won't qualify: when they do hatch, the first Cygnets will go to existing Aston Martin owners.

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