INITIAL REACTION TO THE ASTON MARTIN DBX
Aston Martin has a storied history that we're all aware of. Numerous DB models have etched their way into our minds and automotive history books. Unfortunately, having a strangle hold on automotive culture and the hearts of enthusiasts worldwide does not secure financial stability. That is why, like many other luxury and sports cars manufacturers, Aston Martin has taken the dive into the luxury SUV market.
The new DBX is going to be the most important development in Aston Martin's history. The new SUV will be the make or break hail marry. Its a good thing that Aston has some of the best engineers and designers in the industry to start off their new foray in the SUV market on good footing.
Aston was presented with two options heading into development for the DBX, either work with Mercedes-Benz who has a five percent stake in the British marque or start from scratch. Aston, ever the hero of British ingenuity, decided to choose the latter crafting something completely new and unique. Step one to making a great Aston, check.
The new DBX does use the same Mercedes-AMG sourced 4.0 liter twin-turbo V8 used in the DB11 and Vantage but who can argue with an AMG engine. I'm fairly certain the V8 will be louder. AMG's power plant has been tuned to produce 542 horsepower and is matted to a nine-speed automatic and power is distributed to all four wheels. Another landmark for the DBX, this is the first all-wheel drive system from Aston, having an electric center differential that can send 47 percent of torque to the front axle or up to 100 percent to the rear. That's just in case you feel like hooning your new $200,000 luxry SUV.
Suspension is made up from double wishbones up front, and a multi-link system in the rear. Adaptive dampers are standard along with 22-inch wheels with Pirelli P-Zero summer tires custom made for the DBX. The active chassis is a technological highlight for the new SUV. Three-chamber air springs that allow for a fully adjustable ride height and four different spring rates. A new 48-volt active anti-roll control also helps control body motions.
The new active anti-roll system Aston calls eARC. Like systems other automakers offer, electric motors in the center of each anti-roll bar can loosen or stiffen the bars up as needed for different cornering situations. Up to 1,000 lb-ft of torque can be applied to each bar. While eARC does allow for perfectly level cornering from the DBX, this would feel unnatural in an SUV. Rather than perfect cornering, the DBX can be tuned to have body roll comparable to a DB11.
To keep the good news rolling - pun not intended - the new system can also vary roll stiffness at each axle individually on the fly. As with the torque-vectoring system, the rear can be stiffened to assist with oversteer. I can already see a new DBX owner peeling out of their local outdoor mall in a flurry of tire-smoke.
All of this new tech comes at a hefty cost. The DBX will clock in at 4,940 pounds despite the all aluminum body composition. Its a good thing the new Aston can come up to bat with the technology it has. The all new tech pairs nicely with the all new platform the DBX is based on, giving another edge on its competition. Its most obvious competition, the Bentley Bentayga, is built off of a borrowed VW platform.
Okay that's the technological half of the new big boy, let's tackle the aspects that make us as enthusiasts tick. Does the new DBX look good? Obviously readers can debate until they're blue in the face and design is purely subjective. For me, I think it works. There are borrowed elements from other models in the Aston line up, see the duck tail on the rear hatch, but there's still a distinctive amount of character. The DBX is unmistakably Aston but not so much so that it just looks like a Vantage on stilts.
The front end has an attitude to it that couldn't really be expressed through something smaller than an SUV. The Aston grill is made more distinctive because there's a larger canvas to work with, and its further accentuated by twin LED halos on its flanks. The side profile is clean and a lack of visible chrome trim running along the bottom of the windows creates a seamless transition from door to window. Similarly, the B-pillar has been styled to subtract from the front to rear windows.
The interior is beautiful laid out and equally laden with high quality materials. Ergonomics from the driver and passenger seats look dead on, with a floating center row running the length of the front cockpit. A glass panoramic sunroof adds more light and air to the interior. Drivers should have no excuse to exclude copilots for a quick Sunday drive.
The future for the dedicated cars-only manufacturer looks bleaker everyday. First Bentley and Roll-Royce fell, then Lamborghini, Alfa Romeo has based their financial recovery on the Stelvio and Ferrari has already planned out a future SUV. Large, practical and comfortable crossovers and SUVs are what sells and everyone is going to have accept it. If we want to hold onto the back roads and the focused weapons we point at them we will have to sacrifice the main roads to an ocean of SUVs. However, if SUVs are going to look as good as the DBX, I think I can live with that.