When you’re Aston Martin and already make some of the most beautiful cars on the planet, where do you go from here? How do you move forward for the future? The current lineup can only be tweaked, refined, and refreshed so much, and there’s also the challenge of meeting emissions regulations.
It’s unfortunate, but large displacement, naturally aspirated engines are on their way out, which creates a particular set of challenges for high-end brands whose customers aren’t interested in sacrificing performance. Aston Martin’s potential solution to these issues is the DBX, a concept unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show.
The future of the luxury grand tourer, it seems, is fully electric power. Each wheel on the DBX concept is equipped with its own in-wheel motor, which means the future is also all-wheel-drive. The electric drivetrain is also equipped with an F1-inspired kinetic energy recovery system, a form of regenerative braking that uses braking to recharge the batteries and extend the range of the car.
Without an engine, the DBX has room for both a front and rear trunk, which means there’s plenty of room for each passenger’s luggage, which should make it significantly more practical than similarly sized and proportioned vehicles. The steering column has been replaced with a drive-by-wire system, and rear-view cameras replace conventional mirrors.
While these features aren’t exactly unheard of in other cars, if they end up eventually making it to production, they signal a major change for Aston Martin as a brand.
What isn’t a major change, however, is the exterior design, which shows an evolution of the iconic Aston Martin design. The DBX sits high, like a Subaru XV Crosstrek or Audi Allroad, but that seems like it’s intended more to draw attention to the all-wheel-drive system than as an intended production feature. Then again, maybe Aston is exploring the possibility of a higher ride height on a less hardcore model. Since this is a concept, it’s really hard to tell.
Other than the ride height, the look is pure Aston Martin, with a long hood, flared rear fenders, and a gracefully sloping roofline. The iconic Aston Martin grille is still there up front, but the headlights have been reshaped, partly as an update to the current look and partly because they substitute LEDs for conventional lights. Out back, the taillights are still recognizable as an Aston Martin design but have been updated, too.
The interior is designed to comfortably seat four adults, further improving its practicality as a daily driver. Each seat is covered in Nubuck leather, an incredibly soft top-grain leather, as is much of the rest of the interior. In contrast to the futuristic look of the rest of the cabin, the extensive use of velvet-like leather gives a soft, personal touch to the interior.
Aston Martin has been upfront about the fact that the DBX is not a thinly disguised, production-ready prototype. It’s not a completely pie-in-the-sky concept car, either. Instead, it’s a serious look at what the future of Aston Martin could be like, and it’s intended to gauge people’s reactions to the different features. Aston Martin hopes the DBX will start conversations with potential customers about what they like and what they don’t like, giving the company a better idea of how to advance the brand.
One of the biggest challenges for a luxury grand tourer like the DBX is the fact that GT cars are intended for road trips, weekend holidays, and other extended drives. Convincing owners to buy a fully electric GT car is going to require Aston Martin to offer a range that still allows for trips to the coast, mountains, or lake without needing to stop for several hours to recharge. What that range will be is still up in the air, but you can bet the vehicle is going to need to squeeze at least 250 miles out of a charge.
There’s also the question of performance. Aston Martin has been quiet on power output and acceleration numbers, but Tesla sets a pretty serious standard for an all-wheel-drive electric car with its Model S P85D. Will Aston Martin be able to match the performance of the Model S? Will customers be willing to sacrifice acceleration to extend range? Until these questions can be answered, it’s unlikely that Aston Martin will be able to move forward with bringing an electric vehicle to production.
Luckily, though, much like the fully electric Rolls-Royce Phantom, a concept car like the Aston Martin DBX is going to get people talking. The more Aston talks to potential customers, the clearer the picture will become of what they’re interested in buying. Plus, if you drop the ride height, the DBX has the makings of an incredibly attractive vehicle. If that’s the direction that Aston Martin design is headed, then sign us up.
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