In the oil age we live in, it’s a common belief that most of the world’s supercar stock sits somewhere between Dubai and about Kuwait. But much to my surprise, certain districts in the city of London actually contain more exotic metal in a small radius as I’ve seen anywhere else.
This is an odd phenomenon because there is more against car ownership in central London than for it, let alone supercar ownership. For one, you’ll pay over ten pound in congestion charge as soon as you move anywhere. Assuming money is no issue, despite the charge the city is still in gridlock for as many hours as the sun is up. It’s an old city too which means almost nobody has a garage because cars didn’t exist when the houses were built, even the swanky ones, so on-street parking is the norm. And unlike in Australia, London has an excellent public transport system. With all the good roads so far away, why would you even bother taking a car into the city?
And yet here we are. In the Knightsbridge area there literally isn’t a street without some form of exotica lining its sides. In these parts V8 Vantage’s and Bentley’s are commonplace, and it takes something special to grab your attention.
The car that held my attention for the longest did so for all the wrong reasons. I’ve long been hoping to see one of these in the flesh for I have long labeled them the stupidest and most hilarious car ever built, however I’m not aware of any Australian’s daft enough to have made the purchase. In London I saw three, all within a block of each other.
Let’s start from the start. This is a Toyota iQ, a fantastic, smartly packaged inner city runabout. In England it works out to AUD$18,300 and comes fitted with a 1.3 and a CVT auto. A little pricey I think, but a good package nonetheless.
This is an Aston Martin Cygnet. It has the identical 1.3 CVT mechanical package but for bespoke Aston Martin wheels (in the same size as the iQ’s). It has slightly revised cosmetic bodywork, a higher quality paint job and a retrimmed interior, with “as much leather as you’ll find in a DB9”. Oh, and it costs AUD$51,700. Given used car prices in the UK, for that money you could buy a new iQ and a used DB9.
This was the picture that got me kicked out, but I still think it was worth it given the lighting and wet ground. Unfortunately I didn’t have a witty Bond one liner to say to the guard, so I just pretended not to speak English and left without a fuss.
Until I saw the bat sticker on the bonnet – I guess money doesn’t buy taste. And while I’m whining about a car I can’t afford (what’s new, right?), I think that red interior clashes with the body tone.
Words and photos by Andrew Coles