Aston Martin Cygnet

Americans have typically associated small cars with inexpensive, economy-based models. That may be changing as several luxury brands will soon be introducing small, premium cars that most likely won’t be cheaply made and they certainly won’t be inexpensive.

The most dramatic example is the Aston Martin Cygnet. Typically the name Aston brings to mind cars like the V12 Vantage or the 470 hp DB9 but the Cygnet is cut from an entirely different cloth.

Aston Martin
Based on Toyota iQ, a car that will soon arrive in the US as the Scion iQ, the Aston Martin Cygnet is a sub compact city that’s only a little bigger than a Smart ForTwo. US versions would likely get a 97 hp, 1.3 liter engine, a far cry from ultra powerful V8 and V12 engines Aston is known for. Still, Aston says the little Cygnet will offer a truly premium experience with features like “a hand crafted interior comparable to our current sports cars.”

BMW is already having some success with the 1-Series but soon the company will begin offering a four cylinder engine in some of its vehicles. The 2.0 liter, 240 hp turbocharged engine would likely bring the base price of a 1-Series coupe or convertible down and could even be used in a lower trim level of the 3-Series that might compete nicely with Infiniti’s new G25. BMW also has an X1 SUV on the way, a crossover vehicle that will be slotted below the X3.

Audi’s A3 is an example of small done right. Despite the car’s size, the interior and driving dynamics are pure Audi and the company may be working on an A2 which would be even smaller. Put the TDI engine in it and we’ll bet good money Audi will find plenty of buyers. Although it’s not inexpensive, Audi’s Q5 is a smallish SUV that still delivers the expected Audi experience. The impending success of vehicles like this will surely bring in more competitors.

Finally, Mercedes-Benz is planning a small coupe by 2013 and may even follow that up with an SUV that’s both smaller and less expensive than the current GLK.

Rumors also persist about Lexus offering a RAV4 based SUV in the near future.

For many American car buyers, price equals size, small cars cost less and big cars cost more. But there are exceptions, Audi’s A3 and Q5 as well as the Acura RDX and BMW’s 1-Series prove that small doesn’t always mean cheap. Look for more small cars packed with premium features and luxury badges in the very near future.

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Brian Moody has been an automotive writer and presenter for more than 10 years. He has contributed to such media outlets as CNBC, Fox Business, the Today show, Speed TV, and KTLA in Los Angeles. He currently covers the automotive industry and reviews new cars for the nationally syndicated Car Concerns radio show.

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