Crossover & Midsize

Is the Aston Martin DBX Worthy of the Name?

As the SUV market grows, many high-end automakers are expanding their portfolios to keep up. Rolls-Royce and Lamborghini launched their first SUVs, the Cullinan and Urus. Porsche beat them both with the Cayenne, though, while Land Rover and Mercedes have been in the luxury SUV business for decades. But while some dismiss these expensive SUVs as simple status symbols, they’re more capable than even some owners would expect. And now, British sports car maker Aston Martin is set to join these ranks with its first SUV, the DBX. But is it worthy of the Aston Martin badge?

Does the Aston Martin DBX belong with the other Aston Martins?

Both Doug Demuro of Autotrader and Carwow’s Mat Watson managed to explore pre-production DBXs. And what they found signals good news: the Aston Martin DBX can hang with the rest of the lineup.

Both Watson and Demuro praised the DBX’s exterior design, with Doug using words like “clean”, “sweeping”, and “flowing”. The rear recalls the Aston Martin Vantage, and the grille is the biggest ever fitted to an Aston Martin. As is the winged badge, which Road & Track reports is still made by hand out of real metal.

2021 Aston Martin DBX | AM
2021 Aston Martin DBX | AM

Even Automobile Magazine’s automotive design editor Robert Cumberford, who has long been against any and all “fancy SUVs”, has conceded that the DBX’s designers have made an excellent-looking SUV.

That was mostly due, Aston Martin chief creative officer Marek Reichman revealed in an interview with Cumberford, to the freedom the design team was given. Unlike the Lamborghini Urus, Porsche Cayenne, and Audi Q8, which share a platform, the DBX’s platform was designed to fit the body.

The Aston Martin DBX’s design is also functional. The LED DRLs surround ducts that channel cooling air to the front brakes. The standard air suspension is adjustable, both from the cabin and from buttons in the trunk, to make loading/unloading easier. There’s no rear wiper because the roofline and roof fairing channel air directly onto the rear glass to keep it clean.

2021 Aston Martin DBX with roof-mounted bicycle
2021 Aston Martin DBX with roof-mounted bicycle | Aston Martin

And speaking of glass, most of the roof is actually a giant glass sunroof. It’s fixed and normally covered by Alcantara, but it’s still an impressive feat of engineering. Especially considering Car and Driver reports it can support up to 220 pounds.

The DBX’s interior

2021 Aston Martin DBX center console
2021 Aston Martin DBX center console | Aston Martin

Not all of the DBX is solely Aston Martin. The British carmaker has partnered with Mercedes, which gives Aston access to the Mercedes parts bin. This ranges from fairly minor pieces, like the powered tailgate buttons, to larger parts, like the infotainment system. However, Watson claims Mercedes’ infotainment system is one of the best in the business.

The rest of the interior, however, is all Aston, and properly luxurious. There’s leather everywhere; that includes the door speaker covers and the front seat rear-storage pockets. Except for the headliner, which is Alcantara. If anything looks like metal or wood, it’s real metal or wood. The stitching is done in contrasting colors, which even extends to the signs for the child-seat anchoring points.

At first glance, the Aston Martin DBX’s roofline may seem to intrude on rear space. But that’s not the case. Doug Demuro is roughly 6’4”, and he was able to fit in the back seats with no headroom or legroom issues. Those rear seats, by the way, are both heated and ventilated, although only the front seats get massaging functions.

2021 Aston Martin DBX rear center armrest saddle bags
2021 Aston Martin DBX rear center armrest saddle bags | Aston Martin

Aston Martin is also offering the DBX with several ‘lifestyle’ accessory packs, reports Road & Track. This includes the usual luggage set, but there’s also a kind of rear center-armrest saddle bag available. There’s even a dog pack, which includes a trunk bed, Aston Martin-branded metal grille (to prevent slobber stains), and a fold-out mat to protect the tailgate paint.

2021 Aston Martin DBX with Dog Pack
2021 Aston Martin DBX with Dog Pack | Aston Martin

Although, luxuries like this are somewhat expected, considering the Aston Martin DBX will start at just over $192,000.

Does the Aston Martin DBX still need improvements?

Interior-wise, there are a few niggles. The rear seats, while comfortable and spacious, can’t move forward or recline. They can, however, be folded-down to increase luggage space or let tall items, like skis, pass through.

2019 Bentley Bentayga | Bentley
2019 Bentley Bentayga | Bentley

The rear seats can be folded-down remotely, using a button in the trunk. However, other automakers also offer the option to raise the seats back up with another button. Aston Martin doesn’t offer that. And, while the DBX does have more trunk space than the Urus, Bentley Bentayga, and even the Range Rover, the non-Coupe Cayenne beats it out slightly.

Unfortunately, as the models Demuro and Watson reviewed were pre-production, they couldn’t drive the SUVs. However, at least on paper, the DBX has a lot to offer both on- and off-pavement.

What is the Aston Martin SUV like to drive, on- and off-road?

The DBX’s engine is something else borrowed from Mercedes. But considering the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 comes from AMG, and will make 542 hp and 516 lb-ft, this is the good kind of sharing. Linked to Mercedes’ 9-speed automatic, the DBX will allegedly go 0-60 in 4.3 seconds. Not as fast as the Urus, but plenty fast.

The air suspension will work together with the all-wheel drive system to help the DBX handle on the road and on gravel. The Aston Martin SUV will have a center transfer case, as well as a limited-slip rear differential. The DBX will also have multiple driving modes: GT, Sport, and Sport Plus are meant for the road, while Terrain and Terrain Plus are for off-roading. Sport and Sport Plus lower the ride height, while Terrain and Terrain Plus raise it.

The DBX will also come with an active body-roll system. This uses electric motors attached to each roll bar, Road & Track explained, to help the SUV corner well and perform better off-road. This system, like the suspension, is linked to the drive mode selection. And, because the DBX is meant for families, it will also be the first Aston Martin to be fitted with adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and automatic emergency braking.

The Aston Martin DBX, then, is different from the rest of the lineup. But it is definitely a real Aston Martin.

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