Aston Martin unveils its first SUV, the DBX, in Singapore



The DBX is a make or break car for the brand; due here in Q3 2020, est. S$800k

SINGAPORE

Has the car industry finally reached peak SUV? If it hasn’t yet, it’s very nearly there. Aston Martin was one of a tiny handful of legacy automakers without a sport utility vehicle in its lineup (the others being Ferrari, Lotus, and McLaren), but that has changed as of yesterday. 

Say hello to the new Aston Martin DBX, a 550hp, 700Nm, twin-turbo super-SUV. Price-wise it goes head to head with the Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus, but on the roads the Porsche Cayenne Turbo, BMW X5 M and any number of ‘63S’ Mercedes-AMG models will be more than a match in terms of performance. 

Car companies across the board have flocked to SUVs for the simple fact that they make money, and this factor is more crucial to Aston Martin than others. 

According to Forbes, Aston Martin is in a bad way financially. It’s already made a US$118 million loss in just the first nine months of this year, and took a US$150 million loan with a steep 12 percent interest rate, an indication of a company in trouble. Only by selling more cars can it turn its fortunes around, and simultaneous unveilings in Los Angeles, Beijing, Tokyo, Singapore, and more besides show how keen Aston is to get the ball rolling.

Thus, you can see why the DBX absolutely has to succeed. Thankfully, Aston has pulled out all the stops. For starters, it’s being made in a brand-new factory in Wales, and also sits on a whole new platform. Both important investments for the future, as the new plant increases production capacity, while the platform can be spun off for other models such as from the revived Lagona sub-brand.

As with other 21st Century Astons, this new platform is made from bonded aluminium. It’s stiffer and lighter than steel, but the DBX still tips the scales at a hefty 2,245kg, 150kg more than the Urus. Size-wise it’s more compact than the Lambo and Bentley, but has a longer wheelbase.

As such, the DBX’s proportions can look a bit awkward from side-on, but the front and rear treatments are pure Aston, and a far sight prettier than any of the aforementioned rivals. 

Though it resembles a stretched DB11 at the front, it’s rather more distinctive from behind, with the Vantage’s tail pretty much being copy-pasted onto the DBX, replete with full-width light bar, upswept ducktail spoiler, and perforated inserts around the exhausts.

It’s certainly a fascinating caboose to be following, which is just as well as that’s the view most drivers will see. Powering the DBX is the familiar AMG-derived 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 that’s also used in the DB11 and Vantage, but here it’s even stronger, with 550hp and 700Nm of torque. The gearbox is a new nine-speed torque converter automatic. 4.5 seconds is the century sprint timing, and 291km/h is its top speed. 

A number of teaser shots during the DBX’s development show the car in decidedly, uh, dynamic scenarios, so it stands to reason that it should be one of the best-handling luxury SUVs around. Naturally it has four wheel drive, but it also has torque vectoring and an active differential that can send up to 100 percent of power to the rear wheels. There’s also adaptive dampers, active anti-roll bars (for an iron-fisted grip on body roll), and air suspension with a maximum of 95mm height adjustment.

So, the DBX looks like an Aston sports car, goes like a sports car, and handles like an Aston sports car. But it certainly doesn’t feel like one to sit in, as interior room is remarkable for what is the company’s first attempt at a five-seater model. 

There’s legroom aplenty in the back seat, enough to rival any large exec saloon, and the boot is huge too, with 632-litres of luggage capacity – enough, Aston says, for three golf bags. The seats fold 40:20:40 as well for extra versatility, and optionally available are eleven different accessory packs, which optimise the DBX for pursuits as varied as skiing, travelling, pet transporting, shooting, and even picnicking. 

Finally, we come to the cockpit, which seems like a step up from that in the current two-door Astons. A larger cabin means more acreage to show off the amazing quality of materials; in the display unit we poked around, what wasn’t covered in rich leather (and that includes the speaker grilles) was fuzzy Alcantara – even on the roller blind for the panoramic glass roof, which Aston claims reduces heat and is an industry-first.

Though Mercedes switchgear is plainly obvious for those in the know, the 10.25-inch central infotainment screen is at least now neatly integrated into the dashboard rather than tacked onto it like in the Vantage and DB11.

The Aston Martin DBX is due to go on sale in Singapore in Q3 of 2020, at a tentative price of S$800,000 without COE or options. The white display unit you see here will be available for viewing at the Aston Martin showroom until December 8.

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Jon Lim
CarBuyer's latest addition is its fourth historical Jonathan. Old-fashioned in all but body, he thinks car design peaked in the '90s. He also strongly believes any car can be a race car if you have a sufficient lack of self-preservation, which explains why he nearly flipped a Chinese van while racing it.