One of the biggest laughs about automobile time travel would be to put the dial on the mid-1990s – the dawn of the Ford era of Aston Martin – and roll it to Aston’s old Bloxham factory in a modern Explorer SUV. If you were to masquerade as a FoMoCo manager in a poorly fitting suit, you would be lapping up a group of Aston’s best engineers. “I want you to do that,” you smile and point to the Explorer The“Swing your finger to a DB7 in the parking lot.
After a week of driving the DBX on the road and on our test track, it is obvious that Aston has put a lot of effort into developing its SUV. That’s a good thing considering this is one of the biggest readings the boutique automaker has ever done. Aston isn’t particularly known for its fat budgets, and the fact that it built an SUV on a proprietary platform with great attention to detail and a well-stocked chassis is nothing short of a leather-lined wonder.
A lot of Mercedes, but also a lot of Aston
We’re sure tech partner Mercedes-Benz would have been tickled pink to license or supply one of its many SUV platforms to the UK automaker, but as in the case of the current Vantage and DB11 V8, Aston has adopted the basic architecture and helped himself to the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8, nine-speed automatic transmission, 4Matic all-wheel drive, electronic architecture and infotainment from the branches of Mercedes and AMG.
The Aston-AMG partnership has come together to create this 4.0-liter engine, which, with the exception of the DBS Superleggera, only fits under the bonnet of every Aston model for the V-12. To cope with the DBX’s 5,086-pound weight – a good 1,700 pounds above the Vantage – engineers pulled an additional 39 horsepower and 10 pound-feet from the V-8 to ensure it fended off full-throttle salvos from the competition’s performance can SUVs. Combined with Merc’s tricky nine-speed automatic transmission and clever all-wheel drive, the 4.0-liter engine drove the big Aston through the quarter mile in 12.5 seconds and sprinting from 0 to 60 mph in 4.0 ticks . “It takes a second for the engine to really wake up, even when it is on the brakes to crank the turbocharger,” said Assistant Road Testing Editor Erick Ayana.
That’s an excellent feat for a five-door hatchback with five people, but it’s well behind the incredibly fast 3.2-second 0-60 run and 11.7-second quarter-mile charge we saw in our test of the similarly priced Cayenne Turbo Coupe recorded, not to mention what the Lamborghini Urus did: 60 mph in 3.0 seconds and the quarter in 11.3.
There are hotter DBXs coming
This is likely by design as Aston is already committed to faster, hotter DBXs in the future. It is crucial that the regular DBX drives faster than the priced 2021 Bentley Bentayga V8, which fits well between the laser-focused Porsche and the buttery-soft Bentley. In other words, the DBX adapts the 108-year-old philosophy of Aston Martin to a T, just as the character of the Vantage places it between the 911 Carrera S from Porsche and the Continental GT from Bentley and that of the DBS Superleggera between the Ferrari 812 Superfast and the Rolls-Royce Wraith.
The DBX’s excellent chassis setup is also perfect. All of the mass is masterfully managed by a set of three-chamber air springs as well as an active anti-roll system developed by ZF that automatically transfers up to 1,032 lb-ft of torque to the front and rear stabilizers to keep things nice and level. This hardware, together with an immaterial special sauce from chief engineer and former Lotus handling assistant Matt Becker, results in one of the most composed and appealing SUVs we have ever driven.
Easy to drive – or different
“That feels as good as a Porsche Cayenne Turbo on the eighth,” said Chris Walton, editor for road tests. In his hands, the DBX sliced around our course in 24.4 seconds with an average of 0.79 g and was a perfect fit between the 24.1-second run of the Cayenne Turbo Coupé and the 24.8-second run of the smaller Porsche Macan GTS. “On the skidpad, the steering is frictionless and very fast – subtle corrections can be easily made if necessary,” said Walton. “You can keep it neutral or even overdrive the throttle, especially at the exit. If you hit the throttle and countersteer just right, the DBX allows for a pretty glaring drift. Do one little thing wrong and it will wind it up for you. What a wonderful setup and tuning job from Aston Martin. “
The brakes on the DBX deserve special praise, and they heard it from the test team. While the pedal has long travel – a boon for everyday driving – the bite of the brakes is still sporty and confident without being overly aggressive. If you’re driving aggressively, “pedal travel means you can brake really late because the brakes are so trustworthy,” said Walton. “You can also find the exact amount of bite you want, track him into the corner, and let go at a precise rate. Fine.” Ayana used these binders to record a best 60 to 0 mph distance from 106 feet, and it was a consistent performance over several such stops.
Aston’s DBX is on its way
As good as it was on the test track, the DBX was not only revealing on real asphalt because of its incomparable sportiness. On faster, curved roads, the DBX is best left in its less aggressive GT or Sport driving modes, while maintaining comfort and communicative body movements. (The DBX also offers a tougher Sport Plus setting, as well as Terrain and Terrain Plus for all kinds of off-road excursions.) The trick combination of an active center differential and an electronically controlled rear differential leaves the all-wheel drive system – the route of the drive system between 53 and 100 percent of the Power to the rear axle. So be careful when you push the power in the middle of the section. Or not – the stability control system will catch you as gently as a well-oiled catcher’s glove and make you feel like you’ve done most of the work. A real ch that.
Not only is the DBX’s silky, tactile steering some of the best in any SUV, it also outperforms the settings of a large number of performance-driven machines. Turning is quick but not uncomfortable, and its accuracy and lack of nervousness allow precise corrections in the middle of the corner, even when driving at high speed. This sweet steering is best enjoyed in tight corners where the DBX transforms from a lanky Vantage to a V-8 Volkswagen Golf R.
In Sport Plus mode, where the chassis is in the lowest setting and at maximum stiffness, the DBX is a total ripper that carves through hairpins and corners of decreasing radius with the fancy balance of something much smaller. As with almost all large and heavy vehicles, the front end will slide, but only back a little, and the Shely DBX and its electronic rear differential will slide everything back into line.
Comfort: The DBX has it
Meanwhile the landscape rings with the braaaaat of the V-8. The Aston AMG engine growls, snorts and screams as you speed over every piece of straight pavement you come across. However, when it comes time to calm down and get back on the road, the DBX becomes completely docile. And apart from some slight jerks in the drive train when exiting a dead stop, the DBX is perfectly normal in everyday use. And we don’t mean normal for an Aston – we mean normal for any luxury SUV. With the relaxed drivetrain and suspension in the pillowiest mode, it’s remarkable how onNoteworthy is the Aston DBX.
This is a very good sign of the future prospects of the DBX as it is hard to imagine anyone shopping in the luxury SUV segment looking for a vehicle for casual use. When you consider the near-perfect execution of an Every Day, All Situations mission by the 2021 Aston Martin DBX, this is possibly the best Aston ever made.
When a vehicle is made this well, it’s hard not to be a little breathless. Although Aston has always produced dedicated sports cars full of character, for a variety of reasons they have long played second – or even third or fourth – fiddle against cars from companies like Porsche and Ferrari. We’re not sure if anyone could have predicted that it would take an SUV of all things to bring Aston to the level of the world’s best.
Looks good! More details?
|SPECIFICATIONS||2021 Aston Martin DBX|
|BASIC PRICE||$ 179,986|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$ 195,586|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front engine, four wheel drive, 5 pass, 4 door SUV|
|ENGINE||4.0 l / 542 hp / 516 lb-ft DOHC 32-valve V-8 with two turbochargers|
|CURB WEIGHT (F / R DIST)||53.07% (5.086 lb)|
|Length x width x height||198.4 x 78.7 x 64.2-68.0 in|
|0-60 MPH||4.0 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||12.5 seconds at 111.8 mph|
|BRAKES, 60-0 MPH||106 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.95 g (average)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||24.4 s at 0.79 g (average)|
|EPA CITY / HWY / COMB FUEL ECON||14/18/15 mpg|
|ENERGIEKONS, CITY / HWY||241/187 kWh / 100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||1.25 lb / mile|