By far the most problematic category to judge but also a clear winner. In the art of being an awful automobile.
As Chinese and Indian vehicles managed to find their way across the globe, we have experienced a diversity of awfulness like never before.
To their credit, certain Chinese and Indian brands have seen remarkable improvements in product design and quality over the last few years, but that does not mean we can forget the lemons. And there have been enough lemons to fill a citrus company’s export quota.
I have driven Indian and Chinese vehicles where summer commuting in South Africa, simply was not an option, unless you wished to suffer plastic chemical fume poisoning behind the wheel.
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Occasionally, these Chinese and Indian vehicles could be rather thrilling to drive, as they very rarely had any emergency braking performance. But the margin between that millisecond of adrenaline and then having the deal with emergency avoidance steering – not so much fun.
A great brand, but a huge mistake
The worst car of the decade isn’t Chinese or Indian. When your expectations are low, the disappointment isn’t that crushing. But when you are Aston Martin and make something awful, then there is a real issue.
Consider Aston Martin’s history. This is James Bond’s car company of choice. It also had the distinction of never building a car that was anything less than beautiful. And then 2011 happened.
Aston Martin decided to solve a unique car company problem, in a very unconventional way. As an independent sportscar brand, Aston Martin has an issue: its cumulative fleet emissions for new vehicles sold and produced. With a portfolio of V8s and V12s, Aston Martin could not benefit from the smaller engines its rivals offered, in some of their much cheaper cars.The solution was to produce a small car of its own. Which wasn’t cheap. At all. And managed to be a Toyota.
It was never a good idea
You can understand Aston Martin’s logic. It did not have an engineering budget to waste on developing its own compact city car and a pressing CO2 fleet average emissions issue to solve. The Cygnet was its solution and must rank as the most curious and worst car of the decade.
Utterly reliable it might have been, as the platform and all mechanical bits were Toyota iQ, but it looked awful. Aston Martin tried to make it a touch more distinctive with its own grille and cabin bits, but the results were laughable. And for owners of expensive Aston Martins, deeply troubling.
The concept of a Toyota city car repurposed as an Aston Martin was ridiculous and the price equally outrageous. At its launch in 2011, the Cygnet was priced R400 000 – which would buy you a VW Golf R. The Cygnet tarnished Aston Martin’s reputation and was a spectacular commercial failure.
Sales targeting was set at 4000. But Aston Martin only managed to deliver 150 Cygnets, before it was cancelled. An overpriced Toyota iQ. And awful Aston Martin, representing every single feature and attribute that is not relevant to the brand.
The Cygnet is an easy win for our worst car of the decade.
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