Aston Martin enters the SUV marketplace for the very first time with the DBX – so just how good, or otherwise, is this crucial vehicle for the company?
An incredibly important new model for its maker, as Aston Martin is in a spot of financial difficulty. However, all car marques have long since realised that, in order to be successful, an SUV of some kind is needed in the product portfolio. Forever, the venerable Range Rover was the most luxurious, upmarket SUV in the world, but it has been surpassed in recent years by the likes of the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, the Bentley Bentayga, the Lamborghini Urus, the Maserati Levante and also, to an extent, the Porsche Cayenne. To this new breed of ‘prestige SUVs’, then, comes this: the Aston Martin DBX. It is hand-built in the British company’s new factory in Wales, and uses an AMG-sourced drivetrain in the form of a 4.0-litre biturbo V8 petrol engine, powering all four wheels through a nine-speed automatic gearbox. Power amounts to 550hp and torque is capped at 700Nm, which puts it broadly on a par with the Bentley Bentayga V8 at which it is directly aimed – the Aston, though, is getting on for 200 kilos lighter than the Bentley, although the two of them post identical 4.5-second 0-100km/h times and 290km/h top speeds. The Aston is a little pricier as standard, however, with it likely to cost from around €279,500 here.
How is it to drive?
If there are any question marks over either the Aston’s distinctive exterior styling (the back of the DBX is designed to look like the V8 Vantage coupe) or the quality of its interior finishing (uniformly excellent, if not as overtly showy as some of its exotic rivals’), the way the DBX drives should eradicate any worries on the part of prospective buyers – presumably, the 2,000-plus orders already placed will result in highly satisfied customers.
The Aston uses lightweight building materials in its make-up to keep the weight off its frame (although, at 2,245kg, it’s hardly slim) and a clever four-wheel-drive system that biases torque to the rear, while triple-volume, twin-axle air suspension aims to keep the whole thing on the straight and narrow. The DBX is one of those wonderful SUVs that puts the emphasis on ‘Sports’, rather than ‘Utility’ (although it does the latter well, too). With sharp steering, strong body control, lots of grip and epic performance and noise from the V8 powertrain, this is a high-riding machine that feels like a sports car in the corners, with keen turn-in and excellent balance. There are few SUVs in the world that drive as well as the Aston Martin.
Thankfully, the DBX is also incredibly refined, with that air suspension managing to provide a cosseting ride despite the fitment of 22-inch alloy wheels as standard. Clever aerodynamics on the outside not only mean the Aston Martin doesn’t require a wiper at the back of the vehicle – its rear screen clears itself in the airflow from roof spoiler to ducktail boot lid – but they also allow the SUV to cut through the air with the minimum of fuss, which couples with top-notch sound-deadening properties to provide a hushed cabin ambience, even at speed. Its engine is also the epitome of discretion when it’s loping along in ninth gear on the motorway, barely even ticking over.
When is it coming to Ireland?
The Aston Martin DBX is available on special order now, though our nearest dealer is in Belfast, and for its near-€280,000 asking price, a healthy standard specification is provided, which includes Caithness leather upholstery, heated seats front and rear, 12-way electrically adjustable chairs in the front, three-zone climate control, 64-colour ambient lighting, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and 10.25-inch TFT infotainment screen, a full panoramic roof, and a 14-speaker Aston Martin Premium Audio System, among much more.
Any juicy technology?
For the first time ever, Aston Martin has had to think of practical considerations for the DBX, such as rear passenger space, how much it can tow and what it can do off-road. So the air suspension can raise the car by up to 45mm in its most extreme off-road setting, allowing for a total ground clearance of 235mm. The DBX can also wade 500mm of water, will tow up to 2.7 tonnes of braked trailer and has approach, breakover and departure angles of 22.2, 15.1 and 24.3 degrees, respectively. It is also fitted with Hill Descent Control, the industry standard system that allows vehicles to safely travel down steep inclines that do not have tarmacked surfaces.
Carzone.ie rating: 4.5/5
Superb looks and the Aston Martin allure mean the DBX would probably have been a success, even if it didn’t drive half as well as it actually does. However, the fact it is brilliant on road and pretty adept off it should delight customers who have taken the plunge on this crucial new model for the marque. If it had a slightly more glamorous passenger compartment, the Aston Martin DBX would be deserving of top marks overall.