The DBX is the Family-Friendly Aston Martin
Aston Martin chose to debut its first SUV, the DBX, last November in both Los Angeles and Beijing. Launching in China makes total sense, because the Chinese now have the biggest auto market in the world, and they’re in love with both high-end luxury cars and SUVs.
Introducing the car, Aston Martin Lagonda President and Group CEO Andy Palmer pointed out, “DBX is a car that will give many people their first experience of Aston Martin ownership.” That’s true for the 107-year-old British marque, and also for other supercar companies venturing (out of necessity) into SUV land—Maserati and Lamborghini included.
“With the introduction of the DBX we’ve radically extended the versatility of the Aston Martin brand,” says Aston public relations head Nathan Hoyt. “We expect the DBX to significantly broaden the number of potential buyers, bringing in people who couldn’t fit a two-door, rear-wheel-drive grand tourer into their lifestyle or the environment they live in. Our first SUV can work as a true, seven-day-a-week option for buyers.”
The DBX will be built at a new Aston Martin plant in St. Athan, Wales, which will also be home to the electric cars that are in the brand’s future. The DBX will reach U.S. customers later this year, priced at US$192,986 (including a US$3,089 destination charge).
“We anticipate the U.S. to be the biggest market for DBX,” Hoyt says. “Other key volume markets will be China and Europe.” Stateside, the company’s strongest markets are on the west and east coasts, plus parts of the south and southwest.
The SUV form has inherent styling limitations, but that said, the DBX definitely carries on the family tradition, especially in that classic grille that dates back to the DB 2/4 of 1953. It became iconic with the DB5, a.k.a. James Bond’s car. The side profile is nice, too, giving the impression of the company’s trademark fastback coupes, though rear-seat passenger headroom could suffer. The rear end, which a lot of people in lesser machinery will be seeing, isn’t its finest hour.
The DBX, with a body of bonded aluminum, is impressive on paper. The twin-turbo four-liter V8 is shared with the DB11 and Vantage models, and produces 542 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque, channeled through a nine-speed automatic and an all-wheel drive system. Fuel economy numbers for the U.S. haven’t been released yet.
The DBX can reach 181 miles per hour and, despite its 4,940-pound bulk, zero to 60 comes up in just 4.3 seconds. The five-passenger SUV is the most practical Aston Martin ever, with 54 cubic feet of storage with the second row of seats down, and 22.3 cubic feet with them up.
The DBX is, of course, opulent inside. There’s a nod to Tesla with a full-length glass panoramic sunroof, and it’s coupled with frameless door glass to produce a light and airy cabin. The Scottish firm Bridge of Weir, which supplied Aston cars beginning in the late 1960s, plus Saab, DeLorean, and the Lincoln Continental Mark II, does the full-grain leather seats.
Storage space is usually at a premium in supercars, so Aston was determined to make the DBX different. It has a long covered center console (optionally wood framed) for valuables and also deep door pockets. There are two screens, 10.25 and 12.3 inches. The 800-watt Harman/Samsung sound system boasts 14 speakers.
Early birds get more than a worm in this case. The first 500 customers will benefit from the “1913 Package,” including sill plaques and fender badges, plus a personal inspection and endorsement from Andy Palmer himself. That kind of exclusivity pays off at resale time.
Also keeping value up is loading up on the option lists, and Aston has a full range of accessory packages. The US$33,700 Event Pack includes a fold-down bench built into the rear bumper, a modular picnic hamper and (as in Rolls Royces) umbrella storage. The US$31,375 Field Sport Pack includes an aluminum gun cabinet and a “shooting stick.”
More down to earth and probably more popular is the US$1,825 Essentials Pack, which includes a center console organizer, heated front cup and (for the kids) tablet holders in the second row. The US$3,400 Pet Pack features a partition for keeping the dog in the back, a rear bumper protector to save the paint job, a dog accessory pack, and a battery-powered portable dog washer.
And don’t forget the Snow Pack, which adds a ski rack, tire chains, and boot warmers. If you keep checking boxes, you’ll end up with a bespoke car cover, child seats, locking wheel bolts, a surfboard holder, a bike rack, and a six-piece luggage set.
In 2015, Aston announced that it raised US$307 million in an equity issue, designed to fund “its expansion into crossovers,” according to Reuters. The DBX is one result of that gamble on new models. Also coming from Aston—and another big departure—is the Rapide E, the company’s first electric car. Total production will be 155, a number that doubles as the car’s top speed.
The Rapide E, with 602 horsepower from its twin, rear-mounted electric motors, rockets to 60 miles per hour in less than four seconds. Range from a big battery pack will be more than 200 miles. “The car is still under development,” Hoyt explains, so no release date yet. There’s also no final price, but Hoyt says to expect it to be in excess of the US$239,000 you’d pay for the Rapide AMR.