Badge-engineering: Five cars that are twins and triplets with other models

Designing, developing and producing cars is an expensive business, particularly nowadays when models are increasingly featuring expensive electrified powertrains and have to be equipped with the latest technology.

Such barriers are seeing a resurgence of what’s known as ‘badge-engineering’, which is essentially when different manufacturers ‘share’ a car, but it’s sold as two different models, with both getting a different badge as well as light design and interior changes, too.

But rebadging cars is nothing new, and it’s something that has happened plenty of times with automotive firms. Here we take a look at five times cars have been badge-engineered…

Citroen C1/Peugeot 108/Toyota Aygo

Citroen C1
The C1, 108 and Aygo were incredibly similar

One of the most successful cases of badge engineering in recent years comes from Citroen, Peugeot and Toyota, which all teamed up to develop city cars – the result being the C1, 108 and Aygo, respectively.

Though each car shares the basics, the 3 brands each put their own trademark design on the models, and all have been lucrative. This partnership dates back to 2005 and spans several generations, too.

Toyota Corolla Touring Sports/Suzuki Swace

Toyota Corolla and Suzuki Swace
The Corolla and Swace share the same underpinnings

Here’s one of the latest examples of badge engineering, with Suzuki only introducing its Swace in 2020 as a rebadged version of the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports. It’s something Suzuki has done more of in recent years, as it has the increased challenges of developing new models, though it doesn’t have the big volume of sales of other firms – including Toyota.

This hybrid-powered estate car rolls off the same production line near Derby as the Corolla, though features very few differences with the exception of its front-end design. That said, it’s just as credible a choice as the Toyota and is actually better value for money on the used market due to its limited demand.

Toyota GT86/Subaru BRZ

BRZ and GT86
Both the BRZ and GT86 were back-to-basics sports cars

Badge engineering happens across all segments, and here’s one of the more interesting in recent years – the Toyota GT86 and Subaru BRZ. Yes, you might have noticed that Toyota is one of the most prominent firms that’s happy to share its cars with others.

The project between these two Japanese firms was one that was ongoing for some time and was subject to much deliberation too before the final design was shown off in 2011. It’s a project that worked well, with the pair being some of the most enjoyable ‘back to basics’ sports cars to drive in recent years. Just be aware that in the UK, there are far more GT86s than there are BRZs, with the latter being in short supply on the used market.

Aston Martin Cygnet/Toyota IQ

The Cygnet and IQ went around compact mobility in different ways

One of the most bizarre feats of badge-engineering in recent times though is this collaboration, which essentially saw Aston Martin creating a city car using Toyota’s IQ city car. Hardly what this British sports car brand is known for, to say the least…

Aston Martin said it was designed to act as a small and easy to manoeuvre city car and be available largely just to existing owners of Aston Martins, though it’s often speculated that it was produced just to help bring down the British firm’s average emissions. While it was somewhat laughed at the time, it’s now quite desirable, with used versions now fetching a remarkable £40,000 – 10 times more than what you’d pay for the equivalent Toyota.

Seat Mii/Skoda Citigo/Volkswagen Up!

The Mii, Citigo and Up! all spawned electric versions

You might have noticed that small city cars are ripe for badge engineering and it’s for good reason as these models are still expensive to develop, but have far lower prices and therefore don’t make manufacturers as much money.

Though Seat and Skoda are both owned by Volkswagen, this is the three firms’ closest collaboration yet, with the creation of Seat’s Mii, Skoda’s Citigo and Volkswagen’s Up!, with the latter taking the lead. The models have actually been around since 2011, yet have more recently been converted to be EVs.