Aston Martin Cygnet
Aston Martins have a sense of occasion about them. They are exclusive, fast, stunningly gorgeous, special. A $14,000 Toyota microcar is none of these things. Which is why we—and, no doubt, many Aston Martin loyalists—were less than pleased to learn of the Cygnet, a mildly reskinned Toyota iQ posing as an Aston Martin. A big-mouth grille and a leather-drenched cabin supposedly justify the baby swan's sticker swelling by about $25,000.
This type of obvious brand dilution doesn't make sense to us. Aston maintains its owners want something small and efficient to drive instead of works of vehicular art. Apparently, these owners still want to broadcast that they've spent a good chunk on their conveyances, so they can’t just buy an iQ, a Smart, or any other intelligent-sounding small car. A more likely reason for the Cygnet is that Aston foresaw a fleet fuel-economy benefit, but we don't think this ugly duckling is going to be worth the negative brand image that's sure to accompany a Toyota-built Aston, although [insert unintended-acceleration joke here].