2022 Aston Martin DBX

2022 Aston Martin DBX

David Brown was building tractors before he helped turn Aston Martin into one of the world’s most famous sports car manufacturers, and in a full (crop) circle moment we find ourselves in a field with the British brand’s latest model.


POSH SUV FOR BOND’S WEEKEND OFF

Carrying the late English industrialist’s initials just like Aston’s most famous GT cars, the DBX ploughs a completely new product path as the company’s first-ever SUV. It’s as pivotal to Aston’s future as the 2002 Cayenne was to Porsche’s. And perhaps just as controversial, even two decades on.

With Aston’s local PR team kindly/ bravely opening the gates to some freshly muddied countryside, the $357,000 (plus on-roads) DBX proves to be another posh SUV capable of tackling some variable, if not overly demanding, terrain… even if few owners would dare be so adventurous. We didn’t get to test the first hilldescent control system fitted to an Aston after a convoy-leading 4x4 dual-cab ute slipped ominously down the steepest slope of the test route.

Yet the DBX coped well with some boggy conditions despite wearing its standard Pirelli P Zero road tyres (alternative all-season tyres are available), fastened to 22-inch hoops. Aston’s SUV is helped by adjustable air suspension, with a Terrain mode lifting the DBX by 20mm and Terrain Plus increasing ground clearance by 45mm. Chassis electronics are also adjusted, and an active centre diff apportions a helpful balance of torque between the axles: up to 47 percent front, 53 percent rear.

An electronically controlled rear differential shuffles torque between the rear wheels to further assist traction. Or help push the DBX faster around corners back on the bitumen, in its more natural environment.

Stiff, bonded-aluminium construction, sophisticated aluminium suspension with adaptive dampers and air springs that can lower the ride hand-height by as much as 45mm, plus a 48-volt electrical system controlling active anti-roll bars all ensure the DBX feels lighter on its feet than a 2245kg kerb weight would suggest. The electronic anti-roll system is particularly impressive, allowing the DBX to carry plentiful speed through tight corners with less bodyroll than we’ve experienced in some sports cars.

Even with rain dampening the twistiest of our test roads, the DBX’s wide, 22-inch Pirellis provide encouraging adhesion, and huge brakes deliver strong and progressive braking performance.

On bumpier roads at speed, we found it best to select Individual so the dampers could be in their suppler GT mode while keeping the drivetrain in Sport. The DBX’s suspension is otherwise a touch reactive. Pick GT as the overall mode and the DBX is thoroughly relaxing on freeways, though our brief urban drive suggested plushness will be absent on the school run.

The AMG V8 emits a woofly note on a light throttle before transforming into an enjoyably throaty sound.

While the DBX provides entertaining speed, it’s not blisteringly quick. Aston quotes 4.5 seconds for the 0-100km/h sprint, where most rivals claim to take less than four. This includes the surprisingly talented Audi RSQ8 (3.8 seconds) that looks a particular bargain at just under $210,000. Shifts from the nine-speed auto aren’t necessarily the quickest you’ll find in the segment, either, but the DBX’s metallic shifters are not only perfectly shaped and positioned but thoroughly tactile.

Brogue-style patterning is distinctive among all the hand-stitched craftsmanship, the sumptuous leather upholstery comes from renowned Scottish tannery Bridge of Weir, and there’s real glass used for the transmission buttons plus genuine carbonfibre trim parts.

Some interior aspects look dated – notably the infotainment system that has Aston-specific graphics but is based around an old Mercedes non-touchscreen interface.

Unlike the Rapide produced during the last decade, this is a four-door Aston that rear passengers will appreciate. There’s also a generously sized boot (632 litres plus) and, if you don’t mind corrupting the sporty aesthetics with a towbar, you can pull up to 2700kg.

Yet while the DBX delivers on its promise of greater versatility than your average Aston, it’s also commendable that it hasn’t compromised on the brand’s core sporty values.

Below: Clever chassis electronics and heavy-hitting Mercedes-AMG V8 combine to give DBX colossal crosscountry pace. Low-speed ride not helped by 22-inch wheels.

Model 2022 Aston Martin DBX

Engine 3982cc V8, dohc, 32v, twin-turbo

Max power 405kW @ 6500rpm

Max torque 700Nm @ 2200-5000rpm

Transmission 9-speed automatic

Weight 2245kg

0-100km/h 4.5sec (claimed)

Economy 12.8L/100km

Price $357,000

On sale Now

PLUS Immensely capable dynamics for a big SUV; AMG V8 can be both civilised and riotous

MINUS Dated infotainment; ride can be reactive over bumps; several rivals are quicker and cheaper

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