Posted by Cassie Nist - email
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Toyota has teamed up with British ultra-luxury carmaker Aston Martin to sell a version of the iQ city car, a car that is more than two feet shorter than a Mini Cooper.
The nearly finished Toyotas will be shipped to Aston Martin's assembly plant in Gaydon, England. There, the cars' interiors will be trimmed in leather. Aston Martin will make no mechanical changes to the cars, but some cosmetic changes will be made to make them look like little Aston Martins.
This version of Toyota's iQ city car will be called the Aston Martin Cygnet. It will cost about $32,000, according to Aston Martin spokeswoman Francesca Smith.
That's $85,000 less than the company's least expensive model today, the 420-horsepower V8 Vantage, which starts at about $117,000. It would, however, be about twice the price of the current Toyota iQ on which it's based.
The car is a concept vehicle for now but if Aston Martin feels that there is enough interest it will go for sale in 2010, Smith said.
Toyota does not currently sell the iQ in the United States, although the Japanese carmaker has not ruled out bringing it here in the future.
"Aston Martin plans to sell the Cygnet, designed for people who value premium quality and individuality, in Europe," Toyota said in an announcement.
The iQ has what Toyota calls "3+1" seating, meaning the car has back seats but the seat behind the driver is only barely usable. (In that sense, it may not be that different from Aston Martin's other cars, which are all high-performance sporty two-door models.) The iQ is powered by a 1.0-liter engine that produces about 68 horsepower.
The Cygnet could be a second or third car for Aston Martin owners, Aston Martin said in an announcement posted on its Web site.
"This concept -- akin to an exclusive tender to a luxury yacht -- will allow us to apply Aston Martin design language, craftsmanship and brand values to a completely new segment of the market," Aston Martin Chief Executive, Dr Ulrich Bez said in the announcement.
The Cygnet could help Aston Martin meet new European limits on C02 emissions by offsetting the high average emissions of the carmaker's larger performance cars. Smith denied that was the reason for the considering the product, however, saying that it is entirely market driven.