What Would Make a Luxury Supermini

27 March 2014

What Would Make a Luxury Supermini

When presented with the description of luxury motoring, most will tend to favor certain preconceptions. Synonyms of luxury motoring for most will often include terms such as: large, powerful and exclusive.

Conventionally speaking, the idea to create a city car with the luxurious refinements of a hand-built limousine appears bizarre and unnecessary.

Indeed, Aston Martin attempted this exact ideology with their Cygnet city car in 2011. Ultimately, the idea never quite took off due to the Cygnet costing three times more than the model it was based upon, the Toyota/Scion IQ.

No amount of leather or badge engineering could hide the Cygnet’s humble roots, akin to dressing Oliver Twist in a tailor-made suit. Optimistic demands of 4,000 units per annum fell short at an abysmal 150 orders, leading to the baby swan’s demise in 2013.

Not everyone believes that original vision behind this fusion of compact designs and luxurious features is dead forever, and here we explore what would make the ideal candidate.

Perfect ride and handling.

Should a premium brand decide to launch a city car into the realms of luxury car sales successfully, it must first embrace the driving appeal. Which type of luxury automobile buyer they target will depend entirely upon the brand’s image.

Perfect ride and handling | What Would Make a Luxury Supermini
Perfect ride and handling | What Would Make a Luxury Supermini

The likes of Rolls-Royce would ideally seek a softer and more comfortable ride, not offend the comforted expectations of loyal customers. However, Porsche fans would generally opt for a more spirited drive with superb cornering capabilities and maximum fun factor.

The perfect luxury model will be available to order with both options though, however it is imperative for the product to outperform the less premium competition.

Compact dimensions.

An aspect the Cygnet performed superbly was the overall proportions of the vehicle. Absolutely miniature dimensions for the length made it extremely simple to park in congested cities.

Compact dimensions | What Would Make a Luxury Supermini
Compact dimensions | What Would Make a Luxury Supermini


The four seat layout merely suited for two adults and some shopping, which would prove adequate to the average potential customer. As the average city car buyer tends to commute into the city as a solo mission, the need for enough room for two adults and a small suitcase in the rear is totally acceptable and realistic.

Hence the possibility to form the body in the most compact form possible, albeit with a body kit to appear wider and lower to compensate for the lack of size synonymous with most premium brands.

Plenty of toys.

Charging premium prices for sub-premium equipment levels is simply criminal. One can tolerate suspect pricing ploys when presented with a hardcore sports car, manufactured with the sole purpose of providing deadly weaponry upon a track. In the supermini sector though, stinginess shan’t be accepted.

Plenty of toys | What Would Make a Luxury Supermini
Plenty of toys | What Would Make a Luxury Supermini

Buyers desire the kit provided on higher end models, including; a built in Satellite Navigation System, Bluetooth technology, DAB Digital Radios, intelligent forms of climate control, beautiful alloy wheels, among other niceties.

Bespoke interiors are also a necessity, with luxuriously hand-crafted seats formed from the finest Bavarian cows, carbon fiber components, beautiful wooden dashboards, ambient lighting and a reassuring comfort which provides allures of a class above.


Not in the same sense as Jeremy Clarkson would demand, but futuristic technology. The Cygnet attracted criticisms due to its weedy 1.3-liter engine, producing 97hp.

Technology involved in the propulsion was not only basic, not particularly significant in terms of emissions and disappointing for the parent company; but identical units have existed in the Toyota/Scion variant since launch in 2008. A premium supermini would ideally feature modern technology to act as a bragging point at the new owner’s golf club.

Power! | What Would Make a Luxury Supermini
Power! | What Would Make a Luxury Supermini

Therefore, with hybrid technology proving rather too heavy for a vehicle of this size, electric power is the ideal recipe. Now wealthy buyers can justify their fiscal contribution by satisfying the eco-friendly wings.

European politicians would eat them up due to their green credentials, practicality and reassuringly bespoke attributes. Certainly, a tactic employed by BMW with their new i3.

Branding and marketing exercises.

Simply badge engineering a basic utility will not suffice in the sales figure charts. An intelligent marketing campaign must be launched to attract the ideal buyers. Combined with the green credentials mentioned above, manufacturers can aim to target energy firms, environmentally conscious celebrities and business people.

Branding and marketing exercises | What Would Make a Luxury Supermini
Branding and marketing exercises | What Would Make a Luxury Supermini

After all, the best endorsement for a premium product is to witness a recognized and successful member of society regularly commuting in your latest product. Event sponsorship, social media campaigns and strategic parking places are vital to the exposure of the new vehicle.

Should a manufacturer do for a supermini what Victoria Beckham did for the Range Rover, we could witness the next big thing.

So had the Cygnet adopted electric power, employed better marketing tactics and designed the body and interior to differ more from the Toyota/Scion IQ, there may have been potential to increase sales significantly more. Whether the market truly does exist is still ambiguous for now, but maybe the right vehicle has yet to arrive.