Aston Martin Cygnet - Click above for high-res image gallery

There are few automakers on earth as exclusive as Aston Martin, so we were more than a little surprised when the English exoticmaker announced it was going to build the Cygnet, a city car based on the prosaic Toyota iQ. After all, we chastise automakers for rebadging all the time, but Ford, Honda and General Motors products don't have anywhere near the exclusivity of Aston Martin. Then there is the Cygnet's reported $35,000 price tag. Some Aston purists were a little taken back by the "modest" $120,000 price tag of the V8 Vantage, so a $35,000 Toyota with a Rapide grille probably won't go over well with more than a few loyalists.

The New York Times has shed a little light on the subject, reporting that only owners of full-sized Astons will be eligible to purchase the Cygnet. Aston Martin CEO Ulrich Bez said in the winter issue of Aston Martin magazine that "this concept is akin to an exclusive tender for a luxury yacht." If that doesn't make sense to you non-yacht owners, think of it as a 105 mph golf cart for Aston owners.

To further help the Cygnet stay exclusive, Aston only plans to build 2,000 copies of the iQ-based city car and there are no current plans to sell the mini car in the U.S. market, so it might be fair to say this is a bit of a commuter special for Londonites. Even still, while this novel sales plan may help to mitigate potential brand degredation that Cygnet skeptics suggest it may bring about, we can't help but wonder how the thousands of non-Cygnet toting Aston owners will feel about their favored brand dipping a foot into the House of Toyota.

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