TEN YEAR challenges are all the rage at the moment. You don’t have to venture far online before you spot a fresh-faced snap of one of your mates, circa 2010, presumably just before they were about to pop to the cinema to watch Inception.
I tried it with cars the other day. A decade ago I wrote a piece for The Champion about what were then the freshest, most happening motors of the lot, and it’s amazing how far virtually all of them have fallen from showroom fresh grace. The Honda CR-Z – a sort of latter day successor to the tiny CRX coupe of the Eighties – stood out for me because it was the first hybrid I’d ever driven with a want-one factor, and I’d happily forgo the rear legroom for its pert looks and entertaining handling. I vividly remember driving one of Peugeot’s first RCZs too, and it distracting every other driver for miles around – it was a cheaper, smarter Audi TT, but with a Zagato-style ‘double bubble’ roof for added zest.
Yet you can buy both now for a fraction of their original prices and if you do, not a single person will bat an eyelid. Same goes for the MINI Countryman, the third-generation Ford Focus and – if we up the stakes a bit – a restyled Jaguar XJ which no longer looks the remotest bit controversial.
No big surprises, then. Or at least there wouldn’t be if it weren’t for 2010’s most ridiculed new arrival now attracting some equally eye-opening prices secondhand.
If I could somehow nip back to 2010 and tell you that an overpriced, rebadged version of Toyota’s IQ would now be selling for MORE than the £30,995 it did brand new, you’d tell me to lay off the Smirnoff Ices. But not only are people now asking upwards of £35k for secondhand Aston Martin Cygnets, but I’ve actually seen DB9s – as in proper, V12-engined Astons, albeit high mileage ones – being advertised for less.
I suspect that’s got a little bit to do with that 007-approved badge on the bonnet and rather a lot to do with it being rare – there are nearly 18,000 Toyota IQs still on our roads, but just 137 Cygnets. Ironically, being a bit of a flop back in 2010 has virtually fast-tracked it to classic car status. I reckon it was ahead of its time, too; the Cygnet might not have made much sense then, but then nobody had heard of Greta Thunberg either and a leather-lined city car seems a lot more on-message now than a V12-engined GT car.
So the Cygnet wasn’t such an ugly duckling after all. In fact, it’s done alright on the ten year challenge.