Friday Rant: James Bond on a Budget? Aston Cheapens its Brand

I admit a soft spot for Aston Martins. Whenever one passes me on Lake Shore drive, I wonder how life would be different without private school tuition for the kids. Alas, prudence wins out every-time I have the urge to test-drive one. For now, I'll need to make due with my Honda "people mover" as the Brits like to call minivans. Which is potentially not such a bad thing given the fact that it looks like Aston Martin will be bastardizing its brand by bringing a new sub-compact to market with Toyota. The new car, which will still cost over $30,000, is based on a Japan eco-box design that's pimped out for London yuppies.

Specifically, it's based on "Toyota's existing iQ city car". Even though Toyota is making the car, an Aston Martin spokesman believes that what the "Cygnet will do is allow our customers to drive a car with all the hallmarks of Aston Martin's design philosophy but one that is cheap to run, is environmentally friendly and, above all, extremely safe". Sure thing, but is it an Aston Martin? I have some serious questions in this regard.

If you've had the chance to drive a Toyota recently, you'll probably agree that it makes sense to stereotype them -- and this is coming from a Honda owner -- as the ultimate American car. They're bulletproof Buicks -- and they drive like one. If you doubt this, try driving a Camry and an Accord back to back (or a Sienna and an Odyssey) and you'll see what I mean. I have no doubt that the Cygnet will be a highly reliable car, but will it drive like a Mini let alone an Aston Martin? Not on your life. Toyota makes the ultimate car for people who don't like to drive. In my view, the Cygnet will appeal to the worst green social climbers with twisted views of how to best allocate their personal spending (factoring in utility, costs and returns).

So if an Aston is what you're after and you can't afford it, don't spend the money on some urban sustainable eco-box masquerading as the real thing. Go out and buy a used Mini instead. Or better yet, stick the money in the bank and start saving for the real thing. And in the meantime, buy a few good Saville Row or Kiton suits and learn to shoot a Walther PPK if you really want to emulate your on-screen hero rather than being a spend chump.

Jason Busch

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