James Bond screeches around hairpin bends in them with a beautiful woman at his side, while they are the car of choice for European royalty in which to parade themselves around the Continent’s more opulent capitals.

Now, at last, the opportunity to pop out to the supermarket behind the wheel of an Aston Martin will be opened to the more conventional motorist.

The Aston Martin Cygnet — a new “luxury commuter concept” car, according to its marketeers — is to be built on the base of Toyota’s existing iQ city car and is likely to be available for less than $33,000.

“Small is beautiful these days,” Ulrich Bez, Aston Martin’s chief executive, said yesterday. “We have to move on from the preconceived ideas regarding what Aston Martin is about.”

What the company has been about is high-end performance cars that sell for upwards of $165,000. Even its wristwatches sell for more than the proposed price of the Cygnet.

Mr Bez said that Aston Martin needed to diversify to cope with a sharp fall in demand for its sports cars. “For decades we have seen the big US car manufacturers stick to what they have always done and now they’re on the brink of extinction,” he said.

“This concept will allow us to apply Aston Martin design language, craftsmanship and brand values to a completely new segment of the market.”

It is thought that between 4,000 and 5,000 Cygnets will be built each year. Toyota, attracted by the cachet of Aston Martin, said that it would be the only car that it would make for another manufacturer.

Click here for more on this story from The Times of London