The Aston Martin DBX is a car that all right-thinking petrolheads should hate on principle. It’s an SUV, which already is a huge black mark against it, but more gallingly it’s an SUV from a manufacturer that, hitherto this point, has exclusively made two-door sports cars, with the occasional four-door sports saloon thrown into the mix. Of course, Aston Martin isn’t the first sports car manufacturer to do so. Porsche did it first in the early 2000s with the Cayenne, Maserati did so in 2016 with the Levante, Lamborghini did it a couple of years back with the Urus, and Ferrari will be following suit in the next couple of years with the Purosangue (literally ‘pureblood’ or, more accurately, ‘thoroughbred’).
So anyway, in case you haven’t heard, SUVs can be hugely profitable. The Cayenne and Urus are the single most popular models by some margin in the Porsche and Lamborghini line-ups respectively, so now you could more accurately call them SUV manufacturers with a sideline making sports cars. It’s a success story that Aston Martin no doubt hopes to replicate with the DBX, with the suits in Gaydon praying fervently it can double its annual sales volume as Porsche and Lamborghini did with their respective SUVs. The DBX will have to, since Aston Martin narrowly avoided bankruptcy last year, and it will somehow have to recoup the costs of building a shiny new factory in Wales.
Now that you understand the imperative for the DBX’s existence, we can finally talk about the car itself. It’s all too easy to write it off as a cynical marketing move, but bear with us here. Oh heck, we’re just going to come out and say it: the DBX is quite possibly Aston Martin’s best product of the modern era. There’s no doubt Aston Martin makes good sports cars, gorgeous-looking ones even, but there was always some niggle that held them back from competing with the top dogs in their class. For instance, the DB11 didn’t quite know if it wanted to be a big, cruisey GT or a pin-sharp sports car, and not everyone was enamoured with the look of the Vantage.
We’re pleased to report, however, that the DBX is impressively niggle-free. Even just settling into the driver’s seat, there’s a palpable sensation of quality. Well, actually, more like a sensation of leather, because Aston Martin has covered just about every square centimetre of the interior in hide. With (somewhat fussy) brogue detailing, if you check off the appropriate box on the options sheet and give Aston Martin an appropriate amount of money for the trouble. Of course, if slathering the interior of your luxury SUV in the skins of dead bovines isn’t quite your thing (for whatever reason), there’s also wool upholstery on offer.
The inside of the DBX is certainly a nice enough place to be, both for passengers and cargo, with a good amount of legroom and headroom in the rear bench, along with a surprisingly generous 632-litre boot—which is bigger than the Lamborghini Urus and Porsche Cayenne Coupe’s 616- and 625-litre respectively, if only by the slimmest of margins.
Now, we’re sure that’s only part of the reason why you’d buy a top-shelf luxury SUV that costs more than most homes here, it’s for the driving dynamics, of which the DBX has plentiful reserves of. Power comes from a four-litre, twin-turbo V8 sourced from Mercedes-AMG that produces 550hp/700Nm, capable of catapulting the DBX from rest to 100km/h in under five seconds. It sounds quick, and it feels even quicker, perhaps a factor of its hair-trigger throttle pedal that sends the DBX hurtling down the road at the speed of thought with a mere flex of your right foot.
And it even handles corners well, too. Think of the DBX less as an SUV than as an unusually tall GT. Aston Martin says its new bonded aluminium chassis is the stiffest one it’s ever put into its cars and while we can’t exactly verify this fact, we can safely say chassis rigidity isn’t something the DBX is lacking. Along with the active anti-roll bars and adaptive dampers, you can pitch the DBX hard into corners and marvel while it remains uncannily flat. Or at least, it corners harder and flatter than something that weighs 2,245kg has any right to.
All the while feeling very much rear-wheel-driven, in spite of its all-wheel-drive nature. Where on some supposed performance SUVs, there’s a sense of sluggishness about its helm and cornering attitude that suggests being dragged along by the front wheels, applying throttle on corner exit results in a sharp shove from the rear, as is right and proper. This is tremendously confidence-inspiring, knowing you have the relative safety net of all-wheel-drive in case things go slightly pear-shaped.
But more crucial is how organic and engaging the DBX feels, as with its exhaust note, which we’re told has been achieved without the aid of artifice such as piped-in noise or resonators. The DBX truly shines in how rounded it is, from a dynamics, practicality and quality standpoint. Which is precisely the sort of thing you want in a top-end luxury SUV, especially since the asking price of the DBX is SGD788,000 before COE and options.
Crazy thing is, when you’re paying close to a million bucks for a car, you’d actually want it to feel like you’re getting your million buck’s worth, something that up until now, it hasn’t really been a thing you could say about Aston Martins.