Think of Aston Martin and what springs to mind? Luxurious grand tourers, perhaps, or maybe even the vehicle of choice for a certain spy? Certainly when the firm announced its DBX – Aston’s first-ever SUV – it raised a few eyebrows, but given that other companies that are usually focused on sports cars were also developing their own four-wheel-drives – think Rolls-Royce and Lamborghini – it was somewhat to be expected.
This is the first time we’ve been able to get behind the wheel of the DBX – so can it deliver everything people know and love about Aston Martin but in an SUV? Let’s find out.
Well, pretty much everything is new really. Given that it’s the first time that Aston has produced an SUV in its more than 107-year history, the arrival of the DBX is quite a big deal. Needless to say, the firm has thrown the works at it and even created a purpose-made manufacturing facility in St Athan, Wales, where it is built.
Designed to be as agile as possible both on- and off-road, the DBX incorporates high-end technologies such as triple-volume air suspension and a 48-volt anti-roll system to ensure that it delivers the kind of driving experience that people expect from an Aston Martin.
Aston Martin has leant on its partnership with AMG for the DBX’s power. It’s a twin-turbocharged V8, bringing 542bhp and 700Nm of torque to all four wheels through a nine-speed automatic gearbox. Strong and brawny, it allows the DBX to go from 0-60mph in 4.3 seconds before heading onwards to a 181mph top speed. It’ll probably come as little surprise that a large, powerful engine powering a big, heavy car isn’t the most economical, with Aston claiming 19.8mpg combined – though push the car harder and this will quickly dwindle.
But it’s a beautifully responsive engine with loads of character thanks to a deep, gravelly noise. It’s a fitting backbone to the entire DBX setup.
Initially at least the DBX is a confusing prospect to get your head around. Is this an SUV focused on performance, or is it one with ride comfort at the forefront of its priorities? Thankfully, as you progress it soon becomes clear that it has been designed to bring a blend of both of these attributes.
It’s why the steering has a decent weight to it which, when combined with the good body control, means you’re free to enjoy corners and long, sweeping bends. But then take the DBX on the motorway and it’s frankly sublime, cruising along while the cabin remains in hushed quiet. The engine, when the car’s in GT mode, is barely audible when on the move, but crank through the settings and it really starts to make its presence known.
It must’ve been a hard task to translate Aston Martin’s recognisable styling to a larger platform, but we’d say it’s been a successful process. It’s a big and imposing thing, the DBX, but there are plenty of finessed touches to ensure that it’s not just size that makes this car striking to be around. Aston’s trademark grille is present and correct, while at the rear of the car the eye-catching LED lights provide a suitable amount of drama for an AM car.
All of the proportions are tied in well together, while the huge arches are filled by 22-inch wheels (on our test car). Even though they’re giant by ‘normal’ car proportions, these alloys still struggle to fully fill the space beneath the car – you wouldn’t want to go much smaller or it would give the DBX a certain under-wheeled look.
There’s an undeniable sense of class to the DBX’s interior. Almost every area you touch is trimmed in leather, with the hide used on the dashboard being particularly smart. Though the door bins are quite small, there’s a useful area underneath the armrest for storage. In the back, the leather-trimmed opulence doesn’t stop, but it’s backed up by decent levels of legroom and loads of headspace. A full-length panoramic sunroof really helped brighten up ‘our’ car’s otherwise quite-dark interior, too.
When it comes to boot space, the DBX packs 632 litres of room. It’s a nicely square space, though the load height is particularly high, meaning some people may struggle when it comes to loading heavier items into the boot.
In a similar vein to the engine, much of the DBX’s multimedia system is borrowed from Mercedes. There’s a 10.25-inch screen in the middle of the dashboard, backed by a 12.3-inch display ahead of the driver. While the main screen looks pleasant enough, it feels a little behind the times; it’s not a touchscreen, so using a rotary controller to select different menus is a bit clunkier than it needs to be. Connect your phone and Apple CarPlay initiates – displaying across the full width of the screen, too – but suffers from similar issues due to the lack of touchscreen capability.
The DBX comes with an impressive range of safety assistance equipment, including forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection and lane departure warning, to name but a few.
Given that it was Aston Martin’s first foray into the world of SUVs, you could’ve forgiven it if the DBX hadn’t ticked all of the boxes. That’s not the case, however, as it’s a car with a multitude of talents wrapped up in a good looking and well-made package. Sure, the touchscreen might be a little dated in its operation, but the DBX makes up for this by being both superb to drive and superb to live with, too.