A monstrous midget! Aston Martin creates a one-off

Mighty microcar The Cygnet V8 has a top speed of 274 kmph and a roar that belies its compact size

The Cygnet V8 will debut at this week’s Goodwood Festival of Speed

Under pressure from meeting the then increasingly stringent fleet average emissions regulation of the European Union, Aston Martin had introduced the Cygnet in 2011.

It was a microcar that was essentially a rebadged, mildly redesigned version of the Toyota iQ, also sold as the Scion. And it seemed like one of the most desperate moves by Aston Martin at that time because the car was so out of place in its portfolio.

Priced at almost three times that of Toyota’s iQ, the Cygnet city car was meant to offer Aston Martin fans a unique option. But the car bombed and, after selling barely a few hundred units, production was scrapped just after two years of its premiere.

But the Cygnet is now making a comeback in a completely new avatar — a la a transformation like Marvel’s Hulk. Later this week, Aston Martin, which is now under no pressure to take any desperate moves for the sake of emission regulations, will officially showcase the one-off V8 Cygnet.

Created as a special commission by its Q division, and full of James Bond like ‘over-the-top-ism’, the V8 Cygnet will be a midget with an outrageously powerful, over-sized heart that has been transplanted from the Vantage S.

Dubbed the “Ultimate City Car”, this one-off has been built with the 4.7-litre, 430bhp V8 engine from the Vantage S and a very short torque tube. Epitomising the concept of a ‘Pocket Rocket’, the V8 Cygnet weighs just 1,375 kg when full of fluids, and it has a power-to-weight ratio of 313bhp per tonne.

As a result, the V8 Cygnet is capable of accelerating faster than the V8 Vantage S, with 0-96 kmph taking just 4.2 seconds. With a top speed of 274 kmph it is over 96 kmph faster than the regular Cygnet.

Special commission

Developed in-house by Aston Martin’s engineers, the starting point for the project was a right-hand drive Cygnet steel body shell and panels. A roll cage was welded to this, becoming an integral part of the chassis in the process, while a new front bulkhead and transmission tunnel were fabricated from sheet metal to accommodate the characterful 4.7-litre, naturally aspirated V8 Vantage S powertrain.

Subframes and suspension are also derived from the previous generation Vantage, and a steel fuel tank housing is mounted in the boot area, utilising every inch of space.

Despite all this work, the car remains very recognisably a Cygnet. The face of the little Aston Martin remains largely untouched, with no extra bulges in the bonnet and just a subtle black mesh for the famous grille. However, there is no disguising the extra width of the wheel arches.

In order to accommodate the significantly wider front and rear tracks, beautiful carbon composite flared extensions were made. These also house the new forged, five-spoke, diamond-turned wheels, which have grown from 16” to 19” in diameter.

Tiny monster

At the rear of the car, the distinguishing new feature of the V8 Cygnet are the central twin exhaust pipes. The exhaust is a bespoke system with twin underfloor mufflers and catalytic converters. With relatively short distances involved from manifold to tail pipe the V8 Cygnet has a roar that belies its compact size.

The engine itself is the 4.7-litre, naturally-aspirated V8 that is more usually found beneath the bonnet of the previous-generation Vantage S. Bespoke intake trunking had to be designed and there are twin conical air filters. In no way has the engine has been neutered for the Cygnet, however, with power and torque figures remaining at 430bhp and 490NM (361lb ft) respectively.

The gearbox is also taken from the V8 Vantage S with a seven-speed Sportshift II transmission taking care of the shifting. Power is transferred via a miniature torque tube to the 9.5” rear wheels, which are complemented by 275/35 Bridgestone tyres.

Published on July 12, 2018

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