2023 Aston Martin DBX707
Is the 2023 Aston Martin DBX707 more than just its performance numbers? Let’s find out.
The world’s most powerful SUV
Aston Martin’s decision to jump on the SUV bandwagon seems to be paying off. In 2021, the first full year of production for its DBX, it accounted for half of all Aston production, with 3 000 units leaving the factory. Even so, the then-new-but-now-departed boss Tobias Moers wanted something more, something that grabs attention from Lamborghini, Bentley and the upcoming new Ferrari Purosangue.
Enter the DBX707, the world’s most powerful production SUV with a headline figure of 520 kW, or 707bhp. We hear some of you sighing at the idea of yet another performance SUV, but bear with us, because we were pleasantly surprised by it.
At its heart is the engine that gives the 707 its name, a 4,0-litre twin-turbo V8 from Mercedes-AMG that has been fettled for the 707 by none other than former AMG powertrain boss Ralph Illenberger, now in the same role at Aston. The headline figure is a massive jump in power from 550 hp to that magical 707 hp, while torque has increased from 700 to 900 N.m.
Andy Tokley, senior vehicle engineering manager for Aston, explained this increase has been achieved by switching to large ball-bearing turbochargers and adjusting the calibration for the engine. To cope with the extra torque, the driveline had to be upgraded, but Tokley says this wasn’t a simple case of just reinforcing it.
“We didn’t want to merely strengthen the driveline, we wanted to give the car a more sport-like acceleration feeling as you pull up through the gears, so we’ve shortened the final drive ratio, which is 6-7% shorter than the standard car.
“The other big thing that has changed is the rear e-differential has gained locking torque capacity across the rear axle,” adds Tokley. “The standard diff is around 1 400 N.m of locking torque and this is now up to 1 600 N.m. We no longer need to prop up the inside wheel with the ESP system on the car, it’s all done in the e-differential, which is much smoother in transition in applying the brake to the inside rear wheel.”
Tokley reveals the team worked hard to ensure better harmony between the ESP and the diff and there’s a new multiplate wet clutch gearbox he says provides 40% faster shift times. Other changes include a 16 mm wider rear track, completely revised damping with the front suspension 55% stiffer at the top mounts and the active roll control has been recalibrated to cope with the performance while maintaining a composed ride.
Before we get to how that translates on the road, let’s talk design. The chief creative officer for Aston, Marek Reichman, was on hand to take us through the changes. According to him, it is all about a more assertive and confident design language while also being functional. There’s a deeper front grille, the daytime running lights have been changed for more visual width and there are new outer air coolers. Model-specific 23-inch wheel designs are available, housing huge carbon-ceramic brakes and, at the rear, there is a long spoiler and a revised diffuser. All to make the 707 appear to grip the road even when it’s not moving and having the correct aero to ensure it clings to the road when it is.
Inside, there are unique seats and trim choices with a range of colours for the model and a rapidly ageing infotainment system. Other changes include a new centre console switch configuration, with a manual ESP button and a new drive-mode dial. That dial seems like an afterthought, almost as if someone forgot to include it in the original design brief and had to bolt it to the centre console afterwards. It feels out of place, clumsy even, but turn it and things become anything but clumsy.
Our route started from the Hotel Cala di Volpe. We ordinarily wouldn’t mention where we stayed, but the hotel featured in many scenes in the James Bond’s The Spy Who Loved Me, so it is rather special. Down the road is the beach where 007’s Lotus Esprit emerged from the water. Unsurprisingly, the Aston team didn’t talk about that and weren’t planning to recreate the scene. We headed off, on roads that could well have been used in the chase scenes in the movie, back in the days when the idea of hurling an SUV along twisty Mediterranean island roads would have been utterly ridiculous.
GT mode is its “normal” or “comfort” and the DBX707 was quiet and comfortable at a gentle cruise and when getting up to speed on the highway. Initially, there was little to hint at the power beneath the bonnet. Even the new active exhaust system remained quiet, something your neighbours may appreciate in the early morning.
We would have expected slightly better throttle response, though, even in genteel GT mode. After all, there’s a twin-turbo V8 with 520 kW. Push down on the pedal and the lag is notable; we’re inclined to attribute this to the gearbox rather than turbo lag. Off the highway, switch to one of the sport modes and things can change dramatically. The throttle response sharpens, the steering tightens, and the engine note rises. That said, it still feels as though it’s at your beck and call rather than being forced upon you. If you want the drama of being thrown back in your seat, you won’t find that in the 707, despite the easy-to-use launch control. Switch to Sport or Sport+ mode, stamp on the brake and the throttle, let the revs rise to 4 000 and as soon as launch control lights up on the dash, let go of the brake and away you go. It’s quick, but it lacks the G-force-raising feeling you would expect to get in a sportscar or, for that matter, rivals like the Urus.
The DBX707 is less about the theatre and more about grand touring, delivering long-distance comfort most of the time and catering for the enthusiastic driver when called upon. You quickly discover the incredible dynamics Tokley and his team have built into this SUV. We’re not going to use any of those bad clichés about rails or the laws of physics here. Like the Cayenne Turbo GT, the DBX707 provides phenomenal grip as you tackle corner after corner; the steering responds to every demand, the engine delivers the power you ask of it and the electronics do their thing without interrupting your concentration. The revised dampers work extremely hard to minimise body roll, although standing 1 680 mm tall and weighing in at 2 245 kg, (45 kg more than the Urus), it’s still there. Of that weight, 52% is over the front axle, but the drive bias is largely to the rear, where the 23-inch rubber gave the occasional chirp. Overall, the 707 feels much more athletic than its weight would imply. Admittedly, we wished we were in a two-seater sports car at times, but there’s no denying the great feat of engineering required to hurl this SUV through twisty Sardinian roads and feel more agile than you expect of the genre.
It may not be as precise as the Porsche, as dramatic as the Lambo or as luxurious as the Bentley, but unlike all its rivals, the DBX707 ticks every box as a true interpretation of a GT in the modern SUV era.
01 Sports seats are fitted as standard, comfort seats are available as a no-cost option. All seat options come with 16- way electric adjustment plus heating in front and rear.
02 Piano-black veneer is standard, with carbon fibre or bronze metal mesh veneer finishes available as an option.
03 Embossed Aston Martin logo on the seats add to the sense of occasion.
04 The electronic power steering system has been adjusted to improve steering feel, with greater effort build-up off centre to help the driver receive a clearer picture of increasing cornering loads and available grip.
01 Taking DBX’s driver-centric interior as its starting point, the DBX 707 builds on those attributes. 02 Carbon ceramic brakes measuring 420mm front and 390mm rear, gripped by six-piston callipers, result in a 40,5 kg reduction in unsprung weight. 03 New damper valving and spring volume recalibration improve body control and steering response. 04 The adoption of a wet clutch transmission brings faster gear changes that feel immediate and direct. 05 The impressive attention to detail extends to the headlight design. 06 The interior switchgear has a dark chrome finish as standard. Bright chrome and carbon fibre can be specified as an option.
01 A new spoiler has been added to reduce lift and increase high-speed stability. 02 The tasteful dark satin chrome front grille. 03 Quad-tailpipe sports exhaust system has active valves to manage the sound. 04 The rear-end treatment is just as dramatic as the front.
ASTON MARTIN ON TRACK
Aston Martin has been involved with F1 for a while now and continues to supply official safety and medical cars to the FIA Formula One World Championship. The specially prepared Vantage and DBX are hard to miss and certainly look the part as they are both run in the new 2022 Aston Martin Racing Green. The pair naturally need to stand out on the grid and the Vantage, for example, has a roof-mounted LED light bar to mark it as the leader of the pack. The DBX medical car is driven by Dr Ian Roberts, the FIA medical rescue co-ordinator, and the vehicle has been uniquely modified for the job at hand.
The medical car has to carry a lot of necessary equipment, from fire extinguishers to a defibrillator and a large medical kit bag. Like the Vantage, the DBX has been fitted with FIA-approved racing seats equipped with a six-point safety harness, the marshalling system and even TV screens so the doctor can see exactly what is happening in the race as he sits, ready to go in the pit lane. Tobias Moers, former chief executive officer of Aston Martin Lagonda, says, ”It is a continuing source of pride for myself and the whole company to see our cars playing a crucial role in Formula 1. Vantage and DBX will feature at 12 Grands Prix for 2022. As much as I hope they won’t be called upon too often in the races, I think we all know they will be busy again as F1 enters this new era. We’re excited to be part of the show.”
TECHNICAL DATA2023 Aston Martin DBX707
- Price: 300 000usd
- Engine: 4,0-litre, twin-turbo V8
- Transmission: 9-speed automatic
- Max Power: 707bhp 520 kW @ 6 000rpm
- Max Torque: 900 N.m at 4 500 rpm
- 062MPH / 0-100km/h: 3,30 sec
- Top speed: 310 km/h
- Fuel consumption: 14,2 l/100km*
- CO2 emissions: 323 g/km*
- Rivals: Bentley Bentayga Speed, Lamborghini Urus, Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT
- + performance, comfort, design
- - dated infotainment system, awkward drive mode dial