Aston’s SUV is music to the ears
CRUCIALLY FOR BRIT FIRM, DBX IS AS GOOD AS IT SOUNDS
With the arrival of the Aston Martin DBX, the only supercar giant with no SUV is Ferrari – and the Italian marque plans to launch one next year.
In the past I’ve considered an Aston Martin to be an expensive way of buying a less good Jaguar.
But the DBX is the most rounded Aston I’ve ever driven and is without doubt a quality piece of kit. It is new from the ground up and a factory in South Wales was built to produce it.
The body is made from cast and extruded aluminium that is bonded together to form a lightweight and rigid structure, while under the bonnet is the same 4.0-litre twinturbo V8 engine you’ll find powering numerous hot Mercedes. The same but with lower compression and revised turbochargers, but still with an impressive 542bhp.
Mercedes, which has a 20 per cent stake in Aston, also provides the nine-speed auto gearbox and much of the kit inside the car, including the infotainment system.
It’s an almost impossible task to make a big SUV look as sexy and stylish as a GT car but the DBX looks as svelte as a 2.3-tonne 4x4 can. Step inside, once you’ve managed your way past the fiddly pop-out door handle, and you’ll see the final resting place of many cows. Or their skins at least. It looks really special, especially in our test car’s tan colour. Even the door bins are trimmed in leather.
The roof lining is Alcantara to add to the luxurious feeling.
If you own a Mercedes-Benz, even an entry level A-Class, you will recognise some of the DBX’s switches and stalks. No matter for they are good quality.
As mentioned, the infotainment system is from Mercedes but is several generations old and the 10.25-inch display isn’t a touchscreen. You control the functions through a rotary dial and touchpad, and when you’re using Apple Carplay or Android Auto, not being able to tap the screen to select say, Spotify or Google Maps, is a pain.
Shame too there’s no wireless tethering so you have to use an ugly cable.
The problem with many luxury motors is that their development time is so long, their tech is often out of date by the time the cars are in the showroom, leaving your £200k luxury motor less well equipped than a £12,000 Kia.
However, that’s all the negative stuff out the way. Fire up the V8 motor, press the D button above the infotainment screen, and off you rumble. The default driving mode is GT, with Sport available if you want more noise and stiffer suspension.
Even in GT the engine sounds fantastic with an occasional pop from the exhaust.
Compared to its rivals the DBX is not that quick with 0-62mph in 4.5sec, but performance is not just about raw numbers and the Aston feels exciting. All DBXs have air suspension with adjustable antiroll bars. And although the ride and handling is sporty, the car is very comfortable with accurate steering.
Aston Martin’s last four-seater was the Rapide but in practice the rear seats were next to useless.
The DBX, as you’d hope, has more than adequate space for four adults (it sits five) with generous legroom for both rows of seats. The boot is big too, and practically shaped with useful tie downs, and if you want to pull a horse box or speed boat the towing capacity is 2,700kg.
Braver folk than me have taken the DBX off-road but I wasn’t going to risk it in this £158,000 motor. I doubt very many owners will either but Aston has taken care of those who might by engineering a generous ride height, and the option of all-season tyres and an actively locking rear differential for better traction.
The DBX is crucial to Aston Martin’s future so it’s great news that the car is so good and capable. However, the job’s not done yet because this motor is old school – in other words the range is lacking a hybrid or electrified powertrain.
These versions are surely on the drawing board and can’t come soon enough.
Performance is not just about raw numbers and the Aston feels exciting