CVT Cygnet: the automatic choice?
OUR SECOND CYGNET is a CVT automatic version, as most Cygnets are. The usual notion of a car with a continuously variable transmission is of an engine revving frantically with minimal apparent acceleration to match the noise, almost as though the clutch (if it had one) is slipping. But a CVT doesn’t have to be like that.
The Cygnet CVT certainly isn’t like that. Yes, put your foot down and the engine revs, but it feels properly hooked to the transmission and the engine’s innate high-revs energy propels the tiny car with a verve frankly unexpected. Just as pleasing is the way the engine still feels connected at lower crankshaft speeds, so you can tickle the Cygnet along efficiently without troubling the upper end of the rev-counter scale.
I instinctively favour a manual transmission, but the fact is that the Cygnet works better as a CVT. It feels perkier, keener; the engine’s revvy characteristics work with the car instead of being blunted by too-tall gearing. Hail the one-and-only CVT Aston Martin. I’d go for this example’s standard suspension, too; it’s calmer than the lower, stiffer sports option fitted to Rob Smith’s manual car, and it still scuttles snappily through every S-bend without feeling precarious. Aston also offered a sports exhaust: neither of our test cars was thus equipped, and both would benefit from a touch of aural theatre.
These options were but the tip of the Cygnet personalisation iceberg. Rob, fact repository of all things Cygnet, talks of the many different interior trim materials available, of the 70 colours recorded through the 2011-2013 production run, how Dr Bez has a bronze Cygnet and Sir Stirling Moss a California Sage (the usual light metallic Aston Martin green) one. There’s even one, maybe more, ‘Designed by Q’.
Consider the Cygnet an absurd idea if you like, but it’s a great little car. Ah, but is it a great Aston Martin? That’s a harder question to answer. And harder yet to ask.
‘I instinctively favour a manual transmission, but the Cygnet works better as a CVT’