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Badge Engineering Gone Wrong

16th December 2009

So what do you get when you cross an expensive sports car with a quirky economy car?  No, this isn’t the losing joke at a 3rd grade joke contest.  It’s a real car!  Well, sort of.  It will be a real car – if you could call it that.  This past summer, Aston Martin, the maker of uber-expensive sports cars announced it would jointly develop a small car with Toyota.  The car would be based on the Toyota iQ, which is a small city car (think Smart ForTwo) that will be sold in the US in about a year as a Scion iQ.  The Slandy Report didn’t tell you about this, because we thought it was a badly-timed April Fool’s joke.

Aston Martin DBS

Aston Martin DBS

So let’s get into the details, shall we?  Aston Martin makes drop-dead gorgeous, very expensive sports cars in very small numbers.  The cheapest model for sale in the US is the V8 Vantage, which starts at $120K.  The most expensive, the DBS, starts at $270K.  The Toyota iQ is a very small, no frills economy car.  While not for sale in the US yet, It starts at £9763 (about $16,000) in the UK.  It has 2 engines available; the faster of the 2 will get you to 60 MPH in over 13 seconds!

So along comes the Aston Martin Cygnet, of which Aston has released official photos.  This car is so wrong on so many levels it just astounds me.  Boggles the mind.  First, this is perhaps the worst example of “badge engineering” ever.  For the uninitiated, badge engineering is when an automaker “creates” a new vehicle simply by “engineering” a new badge for it.  The Detroit 3 have been (correctly) accused of this for

Aston Martin Cygnet

Aston Martin Cygnet

years.  That Aston Martin, one of the most exclusive brands in all of automotive-dom, would succumb to this with a lowly Toyota city car gives me a headache.  Second, this is also perhaps the worst example of brand extension ever.  Even with Aston Martin’s snout grafted on its nose and a fancy interior, this car might cost $40,000 if/when it comes to the US.  That would still be 67% lower than its cheapest car now.  To say that this car will hurt Aston’s reputation and alienate its present customers is an understatement.  Third, this car, like its Toyota half-brother, is just plain ugly.  Aston Martin cars, as I mentioned above, are known to be works of art on wheels.  So much so that they should come standard with a bib.  I would be embarrassed to sell this.  Or to be seen in it.

That’s what I think – how about you?  Please leave your comments below.

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  1. I’m thinking this is worse the Cadillac Cimarron. Horrible horrible idea.

    Comment by jmungar — 17 December 2009 @ 12:27 pm

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