Aston Martin is known for the spectacular design of its cars, their refinement, and their almost-perfect combination of performance and comfort. As far as exotics you can drive daily, Aston Martin has the recipe down, more so than Lamborghini, Ferrari, or McLaren.
So, when the brand decided to build its first SUV, you knew it would be good. Unlike Lamborghini that had to significantly tweak the DNA of its cars to apply to a utility format, Aston Martin could take the same recipe it applies to the DB11 or Vantage, and apply it with minimal changes to an SUV. The end result would be an SUV that looks stunning, has remarkable performance, and is actually versatile and practical for daily use.
That’s exactly what the 2021 Aston Martin DBX is. Unlike a Urus that is a lot more performance car than actual utility vehicle, the DBX is as much a daily SUV as a Porsche Cayenne, BMW X5 or Bentley Bentayga, but with the added benefit of one of the best-sounding engines in the business, an exclusive emblem, and sharp, connected handling.
Think Aston Martin Vantage with 622 litres of cargo space (22 cu.ft.), and you have a good idea of what the DBX offers.
Performance, comfort, and sound combined
Aston Martin has more independence now than ever before, meaning that the models it creates are built on its terms without outside interference. The Aston Martin DBX rides on a platform designed by Aston Martin engineers and aside from the Mercedes-AMG twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 engine, the all-wheel drive system, and the 9-speed gearbox, most of the DBX’ components are designed in-house.
Keeping the AMG engine and powertrain, by the way, is probably the best decision Aston Martin made in regard to the DBX. It delivers 542 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque, 39 more ponies and 10 extra pound-feet than the same engine the Aston Martin V8 Vantage. The extra horsepower compensates more than adequately for the 5,000 pounds the DBX measures on the scale.
The Aston Martin DBX reaches 100 km/h (62 mph) in about 4.5 seconds. Now, if you’re thinking that’s not that quick, you’d be right. The Porsche Cayenne Turbo, the BMW X5 M, the Mercedes-AMG GLE 63, the Lamborghini Urus and a few other high-end sport utility vehicles reach 100 km/h closer to 3.0 seconds than 4.
There are two explanations for this. One, Aston Martin will likely give us more powerful DBX versions in the future. Two, the Aston Martin DBX relies on more than straight-line speed to satisfy its owners, just like the Vantage and DB11 aren’t the quickest in their respective segments.
The Aston Martin has the distinct advantage of improved comfort and refinement over every model we named previously. Driving on the highway in the DBX, outside noise is a whisper, potholes turn into light bumps, and uneven surfaces are magically smoothed out.
The DBX chassis is composed of an adaptive air suspension and active anti-roll bars designed by ZF which, when dialed to the sportiest setting, can reach the same body roll levels of the DB11 according to Aston Martin. The claim is entirely believable as the DBX remains exceptionally composed in any turn and going around roundabouts or sharp corners feels a lot more like a performance coupe than a spacious SUV.
Of course, the DBX is no Vantage. But it feels darn close which was perhaps the most surprising part of this first contact with the new SUV. The second most impressive element of the DBX we discovered was the sound of the exhaust. Automakers tend to dial down the exhaust in their SUVs, assuming buyers want a more relaxed driving experience.
Luckily, Aston Martin didn’t muffle the unique soundtrack of the V8 and allowed the DBX to be one of the best sounding, if not the best sounding SUV in the world. That said, if you need to tune it down a little bit for a phone meeting, the DBX’ Comfort mode will do the trick. Move the mode back to Sport+ and suddenly the exhaust pops on downshifts and roars to a screaming crescendo as you inch towards the redline, making every head turn in the process.
A true Aston Martin Inside and Out
It’s not easy to take Aston Martin’s distinctive design language and convert it to a utility format. I was one of those people who thought the DBX looked odd in pictures. In person, it looks much more put together. It’s bigger than it looks, measuring the same as a Range Rover in length. It’s low and wide, however, making it seem more compact.
Inside, our tester was finished in a beautiful Sahara Tan brown that highlighted the intricate stitching of the seats and dashboard. The fully digital 12.1-inch digital instrument cluster and 10-inch centre touchscreen give the traditional design of the interior a futuristic boost and the rest of the layout is typical Aston Martin.
That means it looks great, but some tech like Android Auto is missing. That’s maybe the only fault we can find with Aston Martin’s SUV. It doesn’t have the latest features, but then again neither does a Rolls-Royce or a Lamborghini.
Priced at roughly $179,000 in the US and $203,500 in Canada, the DBX can be customized extensively to fit the personality of its owner through the Q by Aston Martin program. That gives the DBX a price advantage over the Urus or the Bentley Bentayga, and puts it nose-to-nose with the Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid. If we’re talking exclusivity, the Aston Martin smokes the Cayenne.
The Right Sweet Spot?
Ultimately, the DBX positions itself between a Lamborghini Urus and Bentley Bentayga. An intriguing sweet spot. It is more spacious, versatile, comfortable, and refined than the Lambo, and makes for a much more appealing daily vehicle. On the other hand, it doesn’t offer quite the same premium driving experience as the Bentley, but it handles better, sounds better, and performs better.
In other words, it’s like every other Aston Martin and does what the brand does best. If you already know Aston Martin, you’ll love the DBX. If you don’t, now’s the time to discover the brand.