The Aston Martin DBX promises to be the car that is all things to all people: space, speed and style — can it really deliver on all three counts? Toby Keel took it for a spin.
So James Bond is all grown up, with 2.4 children and a Labrador. That’s the inescapable inference from the very existence of the Aston Martin DBX, the archetypal British sports car maker’s foray into an SUV/4×4 market that has dominated the motoring market for a decade and more.
We shouldn’t be too surprised that they went this way. Bentley had long since dived in to these waters with the Bentayga, while Rolls-Royce brought the Cullinan out into the light three years ago. Yet there’s a major difference between those cars and this: there have always been Bentleys and Rollers designed with passengers in mind, rather than drivers, but Astons have always been focused solely on the experience of the man or woman behind the wheel. The question is whether the DBX can keep the Aston spirit alive in a car with four spacious seats, a decent-sized boot and the ability to cross a muddy field while towing a horsebox.
Enough building suspense. The Aston Martin DBX is devastatingly good. Devastatingly good. Plunge your foot on the accelerator and it takes off like a whippet on hot sand; feather the same pedal, and the car instead wafts along as smoothly as a cruise ship on a millpond.
As it happens, I had occasion to do both, taking the DBX from West Sussex to Norfolk and back (not all in one go, you understand) with a trio of travel-sickness-prone passengers alongside and behind me. My own kids often don’t make it to Sainsbury’s without feeling as if their stomachs have been turned inside out, and I’ve lost count of the number of times that glorious review cars have been stopped in the verges of B-roads for one or other of them to get out and gulp fresh air. Not in the DBX, though: it soaked up every pothole, rounded every hairpin and even sat for hours in M25 gridlock without so much as a request for the windows to be opened.
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Aston Martin’s engineers have worked wonders here, creating from scratch a car that was a total departure from anything in the marque’s 108-year history. Sensibly, they started a new platform from scratch, with passenger space and comfort in mind, rather than simply plonking a bigger chassis on something they already had in the factory. There is an awful lot of technology behind the buttery- smooth ride: adaptive triple volume air suspension, an electric anti-roll control system and electronic adaptive dampers are the technical terms they’ve come up with for the gizmos that make this happen; but all you need to know is that the end result is magnificent.
The DBX is a vehicle that zips round corners with the body roll of a sports car, trundles happily over muddy fields, and then keeps everyone cosy and comfortable on the way home. And needless to say, it does all of the above incredibly quickly, too: the four-litre, V8 twin-turbo engine produces 542bhp and 514lb/ft of torque (i.e. lots, on both counts), and sees this two-and-a-quarter-tonne car hit 60mph in 4.3 seconds, before topping out at 181mph.
Inside, the creature comforts are all present, and just as pleasingly Aston-y as you’d hope: everything from the leather finish with embossed DBX details to the shiny door sills felt just right, while just-soft-enough seats and a glass panoramic roof made the inside a hugely pleasant place to be. Even the electronic gizmos were pretty much effortless: honestly, the only thing I found fiddly was typing a space in the middle of postcode when using the sat nav.
All of which only really leaves one question: the car’s looks. The DBX is an outstanding Aston Martin that doesn’t really look like an Aston Martin. The previous Aston I drove — a DB11 — turned every head and had small boys (of all ages) stopping to take a look and cooing in delight. You’ll get a bit of this with the DBX: at Fritton Lake, our Norfolk destination, it did get appreciative glances, despite not even being the only Aston in the car park. While it’s a good-looking car for a 4×4, there’s no use pretending that every jaw will drop as you cruise past: if there is a compromise, this is it.
You could, of course, run a Land/Range Rover for family outings and keep a ‘proper’ Aston when you feel the need for speed — already a time-honoured solution for many owners. But having two cars when one will do seems all a bit 1980s; it’s high time we all got beyond that, and this devastatingly good car proves you can have it all. Besides, if James Bond can grow up and get kids and Labradors, the rest of us can too.
On The Road: The Aston Martin DBX
- Priced from: £158,000
- Combined fuel consumption: 19.8mpg
- Power: 542 bhp
- 0-60mph: 4.3 seconds
- Top speed: 181mph
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