Can the Aston Martin DBX save the company?

Shivaum Punjabi reviews the new Aston Martin DBX.

2021 is the year that significant changes are happening everywhere. From working styles to lifestyle changes to global thought processes changing. To stay relevant during this period of global transitions, you have to change, and that is exactly what Aston Martin plans on doing.

From acquiring an F1 team under new global management and ownership to launching their flagship SUV, we may see Aston emerge as a serious competitor to the big boys.

So say hello to the Aston Martin DBX. The DBX is probably the most important car in the 107-year history of Aston Martin. With the SUV buying frenzy that has gripped the entire world, Aston is one of the last brands to bite the bullet. Their first SUV ever.

Manufacturing SUVs has been super successful for many brands such as Porsche, BMW, and Lamborghini. It helped with cash flow and revenue and let the brands make better and faster sports cars which always is a good thing.

So coming to what I am hoping and many people are hoping will become the cash cow for Aston Martin. The DBX.

Can it Perform?

Being an Aston, let us talk about the engine. The gearbox and the engine both are sourced from Mercedes AMG. The engine is a 4.0 litre twin-turbo V8 producing 542 HP, which is mated to a 9 Speed transmission. The performance and engine both are tuned to suit Aston’s driving dynamics.

It sprints from 0-100 in 4.5 seconds with ease, and you barely realize that you are in triple-digit speeds. The entire driving and handling package of the Aston is non-intrusive and subtle. The car is fast but not in your face.

It can handle bends and curves. The DBX also manages it’s weight pretty efficiently, but that does not mean it likes doing it. It is precisely the opposite of what most people will compare it against the Lamborghini Urus.

The sound of the engine is a deep bellow and never in your face obnoxiously loud. It is the kind of car that James Bond would drive to dinner wearing a tux.

Aston’s party trick in the DBX is the eARC system which is Aston speak for electronic anti-roll bars. This system, coupled with air suspension and six driving modes (GT, Sport, Sport+, Individual, Terrain and Terrain+), gives the DBX its driving characteristics.

All of this quite sounds computer-like, but the drive experience of the Aston is quite analogue. You always feel you are in charge rather than the electronic nannies. The steering has a sense of oversteer and weighs up nicely. It is authentic in the feedback it provides.

The gearbox is responsive enough and always has the correct gears available. The metal shifters also feel good if you want to take matters into your own hands.

I preferred to use the car in GT or Sport+ when I wanted to push it. The Sport setting barely made any difference to the character of the car.

The air suspension helps when you want to take it off-roading. It can raise the height, tweak the differentials and change the throttle map and inputs. It has two modes for off-roading, Terrain and Terrain+, but I was a bit of a chicken to venture into the sand and try them.

Is it Pretty?

Let us talk looks. This particular car has a bespoke paint finish by Aston’s Q department, which is Aston speak for; we will customize your vehicle to any extent. Overall the look, stance and profile of the car is handsome, and it looks better IRL than it does in pictures. It also looks and feels bigger in person than it does in pictures.

I love the aggressive look and feel of the car. It is also quite Aston. It is impossible to mistake this car for anything else on the road, and it carries over the Aston design DNA. I would be very interested in seeing how owners spec their cars because the DBX looks quite different in various paint schemes. Metallic paints on the car will look the best IMO.

The 22-inch antler looking rims fill the tire well with ease and style. They do look good and do not feel too big.

The aggressive rakish profile suits the car. A lot of functional aero bits are used around the design structure of the vehicle. It is big and muscular and well designed. For sure, it will have bystanders take their phones out and click photographs of the car. When this happens, you know you have done your job in the looks department, right.

The rear has design cues from the Vantage. This is where is feel the look of the car is at its weakest link. The back is where the design does not blend seamlessly with the rest of the car.

How does it look inside?

Aston Martin has pulled out all it’s big guns to make this car. They actually built a new factory to build this car. Let us talk interiors. Like I said earlier, the car is much bigger than it seems and the interiors on the DBX are lovely. Completely customizable as per your taste, and it is one of the more delightful places to be in.

The door closes with a satisfying reassuring thud. The car is designed to seat five adults, but it is best carrying around four adults. The boot has enough space to move pretty much anything.

One thing that lets the DBX down is old Mercedes infotainment. Now in a sportscar where all your attention is on driving, it makes sense to have an analogue system. But in a car that is designed for everyday use, you would want a more modern system.

I hate to say this, but the DBX could do with a touch screen. Also, the entire ergonomics of everything is a bit off. You need to keep looking at the center console to figure what button is where and it is not intuitive. Hopefully, they solve this in their upcoming models.

What is the conclusion?

The DBX is a refined GT car for your family. An everyday super SUV with proper GT characteristics. It has everything space, performance, pedigree and luxury. However, the segment it caters too is getting crowded with super SUVs from almost all manufacturers.

The car for sure is polarizing, and will it be able to win the hearts and minds of the people? It definitely did mine. The DBX is priced at around USD 217,500.

Images & Text by Shivaum Punjabi.

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