It’s an AM SUV that feels like one. Interesting, noisy, fun… and actually practical
Has some awkward angles, multimedia not up to scratch on these early cars, not very efficient
What is it?
The DBX is Aston’s first SUV in its 100-plus years of history - an attempt to wedge open the tall-car-centric doors of global markets like China, the Middle East and the USA - places deeply attached to the idea of Big Vehicle Status. It’s also a stab at making a useable, practical, everyday Aston past the four-door Rapide AMRs still lurking at the factory. There’s a brand-new production facility at St. Athan in Wales, variants in the pipeline and a lot riding on the DBX’s success…
At the moment, there’s just one engine option for the five-seat, four-wheel drive DBX - and that’s a Mercedes-sourced 4.0-litre biturbo V8 with 542bhp and 516lb ft. Yep, it’s the same motor that does duty in various AMG models, as well as the current Vantage and DB11, and there’s nothing wrong with it at all - although it’s worth noting that the DBX was originally touted as a pure electric offering. A powertrain option that now gets dropped down the list of production priorities, although more versions are definitely in the pipeline.
Still, there’s a similarly Merc-made nine-speed autobox, triple-chamber air-ride, a suite of electronically-controlled differentials, electric ride control and a host of other up-to-date tech that means this unique-looking Aston can cope with everything life throws at it - be that mud or racetrack kerbs. Or possibly a little of both. Layered over the hardware is a striking bit of design work by AM’s design overlord Marek Reichman, featuring elements you don’t usually see in the toolkit of blocky SUV design tropes, and the DBX the better for it. There’s a long bonnet that butts up against a generously-raked ‘screen, a low roofline and a pinched ducktail at the rear that apes the Vantage. There’s muscle and tone in the side profile, a long wheelbase and plenty of detail - though it has to be said it looks better in the metal than it does in pictures and that it does have some more awkward angles if you spend some time wandering around the car. It’s not boring though - and there’s a lot to be said for that.
What's the verdict?
It’s a tough one this. In a sector crying out for some difference, the DBX provides it. It looks interesting, goes really very well and hits all the targets. It does feel like an Aston Martin product, and is a really very practical SUV (running costs aside). It can manage off-road, feels suitably sporty even on a track - if you must - and generally has the chops to make light work of the grind. But it’s a polarising thing - and that can be challenging. It has some less pleasing angles, is yet another bawdy V8 petrol SUV in a world increasingly turned on by efficiency, and needs an update of the multimedia from the early cars - which is coming. But saying that, it’s a very decent translation of Aston Martin into the cash-generating sector that is the SUV market. It’s a little late to the party, but if this is Aston’s Porsche Cayenne moment that allows the company to settle and produce ever more decent GT/sportscars, then that’s a good thing. It’s noisy and fun, practical an interesting, imposing and challenging. Nobody ever bought an Aston from a spec sheet - they buy them because of the brand, the heart, the passion. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a decent brew.