These truly are strange times in the automotive world. The latest unexpected plot twist is seen here, as stylists from Aston Martin work on a clay design concept for a new "premium" city car that the firm plans to produce and sell within the next 12 months. While this up-line super-mini, currently dubbed the "Cygnet," will get its own unique front sheetmetal, wheel/tire fitment and unspecified Aston Martin interior enhancements, it will retain the same basic powertrain and running gear of Toyota's smash-hit iQ model.

In confirming this revolutionary undertaking, Aston Martin Chief Executive Dr. Ulrich Bez noted: "Now is the right time for Aston Martin to take this first bold step to embark on this special project -- made possible with the support of an organization of Toyota's stature and capability and the intelligent design and perfect city car package of the iQ."

He went on to point out that this radical departure from its current product lines allows the automaker to present its design language, craftsmanship and brand values to a completely new market segment -- as well as to reach Aston Martin owners who may be looking for a second or third car that could delivery luxury with a more a eco-conscious personality. "The offering of a 'Cygnet' with a DBS, DB9 or Vantage is a unique combination of opposites and a novel transport solution allowing intelligent and sensitive mobility on an exclusive and innovative level."

Toyota has been quite public about its wishes and intent to leverage the potential in the iQ, both in possible Lexus/Scion guise as well as allowing it to serve as a well-engineered donor platform for other producers. A statement by Toyota Motor Europe President and CEO, Tadashi Arashima, referred to this collaboration a natural pairing of strategies, and one destined to yield a space-efficient luxury commuter that will match Aston Martin's trademark design flair with the iQ's highly compact and low-CO2 city driving package. In production from, Cygnet pricing is expected to open in the $30,000-$33,000 range. Aston has yet to confirm if or when it will be marketed here in the U.S.

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