Ever since the Aston Martin DBX bowed as a concept at the Geneva Motor Show back in 2015, we’ve been waiting in anticipation of Gaydon’s first ever SUV. Well, that period is now here, as the covers have finally been pulled off the production five-door, five-seater model, and there’s plenty to digest.
First thing’s first – despite the company’s collaboration with Mercedes-AMG, this isn’t a reskinned GLE with an AMG engine (which there is, but we’ll talk about that later). It is instead built on a dedicated platform, utilising a bonded aluminium construction that has been made famous in Aston’s sports cars, and built at a purpose-built manufacturing plant in St Athans, Wales.
Designing the DBX from the ground up has allowed Aston to tailor the car’s packaging to suit its requirements, and the result, it says, is class-leading headroom and legroom both at the front and rear. It has also enabled the designers to sculpt a completely bespoke body that retains more than a hint of the elegance and sportiness evident in the rest of the lineup.
As with the other cars, an almost slavish devotion to the golden ratio – despite an SUV’s naturally taller stance – has resulted in a long bonnet and low-slung roofline, while the front of the car features the largest of Aston’s trademark grille ever fitted to a production vehicle. It is flanked by slim almond-shaped headlights and separate LED daytime running lights underneath.
These DRLs encircle ducts that direct air through the front wheel arches to cool the brakes. The airflow then gets channeled out of the large front fender vents through a scalloped section along the flanks, which reduces drag and lift as well as serving as a dramatic design detail. Instead of the sports cars’ prominent rear haunches, you get just a single line running from the front to the rear for a more upright and imposing look.
Aston has also kept surfacing along the sides clean by incorporating its flush door handles, as well as tucking the rubber seals for the frameless windows and fitting a glass B-pillar cover for a concept car-like uninterrupted look. Further aero tricks can be found in the form of the slotted tailgate spoiler, which allows moving air to flow over the rear windscreen, keeping the latter clear without resorting to an unsightly wiper.
It also enables air to hit the second spoiler lower down, which features another styling cue from recent Astons – a full-width tail light that flicks upwards towards the centre, something also seen on the Vantage and DBS Superleggera. The bumper features a large diffuser that integrate the twin round tailpipes, and the entire lower section of the car can be finished in either body colour, black or carbon fibre.
Step inside – noting as you climb in that the doors protect the cutaway sills to prevent you from staining your couture dress or Italian tailored suit – and you’ll find a cocooned cockpit-like environment, with the full-length panoramic glass roof opening the cabin up to some light. If you don’t want that light, you can specify the car with an Alcantara-trimmed powered roof blind to keep it out, a first for the industry.
Running across the centre is a floating centre console bridge, under which you’ll find some flexible storage space. Along the sides, the decorative trim can be customised in a whole range of finishes, including solid wood and a flax composite that is a distinctive alternative to carbon fibre. The seats, meanwhile, are upholstered in full-grain leather from long-term Aston partner Bridge of Weir.
The technology is mostly lifted from Mercedes and includes a 10.25-inch TFT LCD infotainment screen in the centre console – sitting above the air vents and below the push-button transmission controls – and a 12.3-inch instrument display. You’ll even find dual-zone, 64-colour ambient lighting that will be familiar to owners of the Three-pointed Star. Apple CarPlay connectivity and a 360-degree camera system comes as standard.
Aston has engineered in a few clever touches to maximise interior space. The front seats are derived from its sports cars, which not only provide added comfort and lateral support, but the slim cushions and backrests also adds rear knee room and allow those at the back to slide their feet underneath. Engineers have also minimised the gap between the aforementioned roof blind and the glass to free up much-needed headroom.
Given that this is supposed to be a family car, ergonomics was also a key area in development. The interior is designed to accommodate both a 99th percentile man and a fifth percentile woman, and the separate central armrests, glovebox design and the positioning of the car’s key control systems were guided by dealership feedback, private global focus groups and Aston’s own Female Advisory Board. A car for everyone, then.
Open the tailgate and you’ll find 632 litres of boot space, and you can fold the 40:20:40-split rear seats to stow even more luggage; a hard tonneau cover, which can be removed and stowed behind the seats, adds some sound insulation. There will also be a range of option packages offered, such as a Pet package that includes a portable washer for cleaning your furry friends, as well as a Snow package with boot warmers.
Underneath all the metal and wood and leather sits AMG’s tried and tested M177 4.0 litre twin-turbocharged V8. This latest iteration produces more power than in the Vantage and DB11 – 550 PS and 700 Nm of torque, to be exact – and it features cylinder deactivation for improved fuel economy. So equipped, the DBX will get from zero to 100 km/h in 4.5 seconds on its way to a top speed of 291 km/h.
By the way, there are currently no plans to introduce a V12 version. According to senior manager of global product management Neil Hughes, who was present at a private preview event in Kuala Lumpur last week, Aston’s 5.2 litre mill with its outboard turbochargers simply will not fit (the V8 has its turbochargers mounted between the cylinder banks). There will, however, be a mild hybrid model coming later on.
Interestingly, the DBX doesn’t utilise the ZF eight-speed automatic transmission found in other models, where it functions as a rear transaxle. Instead, it uses Mercedes’ nine-speed 9G-Tronic auto running directly off the engine, and that’s because it has all-wheel drive – sitting aft of the gearbox is a variable transfer case that sends up to 47% of torque to the front wheels, and there’s also an electronic differential at the rear.
Hughes said that the AWD system itself was developed in-house and not shared with Mercedes. So is the suspension, despite there being a similar setup used by the GLE – triple-chamber air springs all around, linked to 48-volt electric anti-roll control. The suspension can raise (by 45 mm) or lower (by 50 mm) the ride height and exert up to 1,400 Nm of force on each axle to correct the rolling tendencies of a taller vehicle.
Aston says that the system provides responsive and engaging handling on the road, as well as the ability to tackle a variety of terrain off it. The use of bonded aluminium is also claimed to provide a stiff structure and keep weight down to a still hefty 2,245 kg.
Pricing for the Aston Martin DBX in Malaysia starts at RM798,000 before options and applicable local taxes. The first 500 owners will also receive an exclusive 1913 Package that features unique fender badging, side sill plaques and inspection plaque, and each unit will be personally endorsed by CEO Andy Palmer. Prospective buyers can enquire about the new model at the Kuala Lumpur showroom.