A beautiful woman slips into the passenger seat and buckles up. After a brief look into her eyes, you peel off and turn your attention to the road. As you floor the throttle, the V-12 whines, roars and screeches through the streets of a far-flung locale. After nimbly evading your pursuers, you make your way to an elegant hotel suite where the real fun begins.
OK...you may not be Bond, James Bond, but you can own a "green" car produced by the brand famously favored by the flamboyant international secret agent, eventually. Aston Martin owners are a somewhat rare breed, but Toyota's (NYSE: TM) surprising association with the venerable automaker of gas-guzzling racers with British sporting heritage could change that.
The team-up is unusual, given Aston Martin's reputation for exclusivity, its relatively small staff of 1,250 builds only 7,000 high-performance luxury cars each year, and Japan-based Toyota, best known in eco circles for its hybrid Prius, in contrast, has some 320,000 employees who produce and mass market 7 million cars every year. Under the partnership, Aston Martin will sell a version of the pint-sized Toyota iQ, a tiny 3-door hatchback, called the Cygnet to clients—would-be buyers must be existing Aston owners or purchase one of the high-end carmaker's vehicles to qualify to purchase a Cygnet.
The recently unveiled minicar, two feet shorter than a Mini Cooper, will lack the muscle of Aston Martin's supercharged rides, taking a long 14.7 seconds to reach 60mph, but the slow pace will bring with it the perks of an eco-friendly ride with low emissions that gets 65 miles to the gallon. The carmaker expects to sell up to 4,000 Cygnets annually for "daily commuting" use (Aston's DB9, DBS and Vantage models will remain de rigueur for weekends and extended trips). The price will be in the neighborhood of $30,000.
Aston Martin and its partners at Toyota are out to prove that good things do indeed come in small packages. Will the Cygnet ultimately find its way into driveways and parking lots throughout urban and suburban North America? Only time will tell. For now, you'll have to settle for catching a glimpse of the Cygnet concept when it is officially introduced at auto shows later this year.
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