In The Hot Seat: Aston Martin’s First-Ever SUV–‘DBX’ Tested

  • PROS
  • Aston’s first-ever SUV is a winner currently responsible for half the brand’s sales
  • The DBX now offers 3 powertrains including a mild hybrid
  • Aston’s DBX is the best-looking SUV on the block
  • CONS
  • There is no electric version yet
  • According to the EPA, the DBX gets around 14mpg in the city
  • The central screen can be fidgety to operate

For just over 100 years, Aston Martin was happy to make nothing but luxury coupes and sedans. Then, in 2020, it launched the company’s first-ever SUV, the DBX. And with good reason. It was an attempt to cash in on the SUV craze sweeping the globe, especially in markets like China, the Middle East, and the USA. That plan worked a treat. Built at the firm’s brand new production facility at St Athan, Wales, the DBX very quickly accounted for 50 percent of Aston’s global sales.

The DBX is the prettiest luxury SUV out there

For the DBX’s exquisitely sexy crossover styling, we have design director Marek Reichman to thank. This design is arguably the most beautiful SUV on the planet. With its long hood that puckers up to a generously slanted windscreen, a low roofline, and a pinched ducktail at the rear, the DBX is a stunningly pretty machine. There’s a strong accent of muscle and tone in its side profile, and the long wheelbase makes the car look even prettier.

Inside, there’s plush soft leather everywhere boasting white stitching and mated to polished aluminum and piano black. Very classy. Under the dashboard-mounted starter button and gear selector buttons, a 10.25-inch multimedia screen can be a little fidgety to operate. It is also complemented by a 12.3-inch screen on the instrument cluster. It’s all artistically shaped but the dash screen looks a little out of place.

Now that level of aesthetics—inside and out—means a lot when you are coming up against rival luxury SUVs like the Bentley Bentayga, Porsche Cayenne, and Lamborghini Urus. You need to make your mark. Gorgeous styling, great handling, and a tsunami of power helped put the Aston on the map. And the sales speak for themselves.

The DBX comes with the powertrain variants

Speaking of power, the DBX offers a variety of healthy powertrains. There are three engine options for the five-seat, four-wheel drive DBX – and all are Mercedes-AMG sourced. The pillar of the lineup is the 4.0-liter biturbo V8 which generates 542-hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. Then we have the recently launched 430-hp 6-cylinder mild hybrid version, a spec that was specially developed to target the Chinese market as it heavily taxes large-capacity V8 engines. At the top of the pile, we have the flagship DBX 707 which uses uprated turbos with extra cooling to produce a prodigious 697-hp (707-ps) and 664 lb-ft. Aston claims that this is the world’s most powerful luxury SUV and from what we can gather, there’s no argument there. One of the few downsides is the car’s mileage which hovers around 14 mpg in the city according to the EPA.

But we are going to focus on the model we tested—the base 542-hp model which lands in showrooms at around $188,986. That is the more easily accessible version and the one that most buyers will lean towards.

Married to a 9-speed automatic gearbox, with lightning-fast paddles, power delivery is smooth and instant. You are never left wanting with the DBX. While this sexy SUV is fundamentally rear-wheel drive, a center transfer case sends torque to the fronts when traction is compromised. The engine’s 542 hp allows the DBX to sprint to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds on its way to a top speed of 181 mph. Making the driving experience as comfortable as it can be are adaptive dampers and height-adjustable air springs that come as standard. The ride is firm but compliant at the same time. 

For the diehards, the DBX does feel like an Aston Martin product and is a great handling, gutsy, practical SUV. It can easily handle off-road trekking and feels suitably sporty on a track—for those inclined in that way.

To be honest, though, the DBX is a controversial piece of kit. It’s another brawny V8 gasoline-powered luxury SUV in a world rapidly switching to electrification. With that said, however, the DBX is the best thing to come out of an Aston factory…ever. It’s the car that saved Aston. Yes, for sure, it’s a little, no, very late to the party, but if this is Aston’s Porsche Cayenne, and it permits the company to consolidate and create more viable GT cars, then good on them.

On the road, the DBX is a blast to drive. Bury your foot and access some higher gears, and you will smile as the exhaust fills the cabin with a throaty metallic roar. This can be addictive for some. It has six drive modes (GT, Sport, Sport+, Individual, Terrain and Terrain+), that are channeled through a tricky air suspension system. It’s compliant on smoother surfaces, but when the road gets rough, those huge 22-inch tires highlight a slight tendency towards thump and bump. You could say that this is one of the car’s few weaknesses in that it lets more tremor, vibration, and fidget through than rivals like the Bentayga and Cayenne.

In the DBX’s most extreme mode, there’s a clear sharpening of the drive system, with the active center transfer case delivering from 47:53 front-to-rear to 100 % rear-wheel drive, with a rear electronic diff distributing torque from right to left on demand. There’s also brake-actuated torque vectoring, and a 48-volt electronic anti-roll control system that replaces traditional anti-roll bars. What’s great about the DBX is that this hi-tech feels natural and planted at all times. 

CONCLUSION

It’s easy to see why the DBX sells. This SUV is, without doubt, the prettiest luxury SUV on the market, and its expanding range of powertrains—including the 6-cylinder mild hybrid makes it even more appealing to a wider audience. Sure, the price is steep, but when compared to its rivals, the DBX stands its ground. Whether we will ever see James Bond driving one is the $64,000 question.

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