This is not a joke. Aston Martin has joined forces with Toyota to develop a new minicar model called the Cygnet and this is the first official image of the bespoke hatch, taken as designers at Aston Martin’s Gaydon headquarters refine its final shape. The Cygnet is based on Toyota’s iQ minicar and although it’s still in the concept stage, the green light for production is expected to be given before the end of the year.

As revealed by the teaser image, the Cygnet will adopt some very distinct Aston Martin trademarks to differentiate it from its Toyota sibling. The vehicle is being designed for Europe but other details such as the launch date, price and production volumes have not been decided.

The car on which it is based, the iQ, measures just three meters in length, is powered by a three-cylinder engine and has a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating. The Cygnet is expected to keep most of these attributes, but its interior is expected to be as luxurious as that found in any other Aston Martin model.

In an official statement, Aston Martin CEO Ulrich Bez said: "Much work is still required, but I am confident that this project could become reality in the not-too-distant future."

The reasoning behind the partnership is to enable Aston Martin to comply with tough new fuel economy and emissions regulations coming into effect in Europe by 2012. The biggest hurdle for automakers will be to meet a target for fleet average CO2 emissions from new vehicles of 120g/km by 2012. Low volume automakers such as Aston Martin, Ferrari and Lamborghini, which only sell powerful vehicles with high CO2 emissions will be hit hardest. Unlike Aston Martin, however, rivals like Ferrari and Lamborghini can group their CO2 emissions levels with their respective parent companies, in this case the Fiat and Volkswagen groups.

However, not just anyone will be able to buy a Cygnet. In order to be eligible to buy one, customers must already own an Aston Martin. The luxury automaker has identified that around 30% of existing customers have small cars such as a Mini or Smart ForTwo in their garages for city traffic.


Follow Motor Authority on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.