by Jared Rosenholtz
Ask any of the major luxury automakers what the key to success is in the current market and they will all tell you it's crossovers. Even ultra-luxury exotic manufacturers like Bentley and Lamborghini have jumped on the SUV bandwagon and their sales have quickly skyrocketed as a result. After several months of teasers and speculation, it is finally time for Aston Martin to introduce its first SUV, the 2021 DBX.
Aston calls the DBX an "SUV with the soul of a sports car" and at face value, this doesn't appear to be hyperbole. But sporty SUVs are nothing new in today's market and the DBX is entering the fray against some stiff competition. Can the 106-year-old luxury British marque hope to compete in the ultra-competitive luxury SUV segment or is the DBX too little too late?
Let's just take a moment to compliment Aston Martin on building an SUV that actually shares a familial resemblance to the company's sports cars. The DBX shares a lot of its styling elements, like the one-piece taillight bar borrowed from the Vantage. The front end looks distinctly like an Aston and although the body line creates a few weird angles (especially around the C-pillar), the overall design looks attractive.
Aston also paid close attention to aerodynamics when styling the DBX. Part of this process even involved running computational fluid dynamics (CFD) test where a DBX towed a trailer with a DB6 on it. The whole car was designed to channel air over the roof through the rear wing and over the rear window, allowing it to self-clear on the move.
The DBX is easily the most practical vehicle Aston has ever built with seating for five, 22.3 cubic feet of trunk space behind the second row (54 cubic feet with the seats folded), and 40:20:40 split rear seats. This means your golf clubs will easily fit in the trunk and Aston will even offer special packages such as the Pet Package with a portable washer or the Snow Package with boot warmers. In the cabin, Aston says it has designed the cabin to accommodate all drivers ranging from a 99th percentile male to a 5th percentile female.
Although your kids and pets will be able to fit in the DBX, they will have to be on their best behavior to be allowed to ride in this wonderful interior - make sure those sippy cups are screwed on tight. The "base" seats are wrapped in full-grain leather, sourced from Bridge of Weir but customers can also opt for 80 percent wool seats. Aston will optionally cover the headlining and electric roof blind in Alcantara and the rest of the cabin features a mix of metal, glass, and wood, which can be tailored according to customer request.
This is still an SUV though, and Aston assembled a Female Advisory Board to help design small touches such as the separate central armrests, glovebox, and ergonomic positioning of the key control systems. At the center, a Mercedes-sourced 10.25-inch TFT screen provides infotainment duties while the driver gets a 12.3-inch TFT screen in the gauge cluster. Apple CarPlay comes standard (no Android Auto) as does a 360-degree camera.
Power in the DBX comes from the same AMG-sourced 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 used in the Vantage and DB11, although it now produces 542 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. However, in the DBX power is routed through a nine-speed (likely Mercedes-sourced) automatic transmission going out to all-wheel-drive through an active central differential and electronic rear limited-slip differential. Aston says the DBX will hit 60 mph in 4.3 seconds and go on to a top speed of 181 mph.
The DBX should also handle well thanks to a new adaptive triple volume air suspension with a 48V electric anti-roll control system (eARC) and electronic adaptive dampers. Aston says the eARC system can supply 1,033 ft-lb of force to each axel, limiting body roll and giving the DBX sports car-like handling.
Pricing for the Aston Martin DBX starts at $189,900 plus a $3,086 destination and handling fee. This puts the DBX slightly above the V8 Bentley Bentayga ($165,000) but below the more powerful Lamborghini Urus. We expect the DBX to split the difference between those two competitors, offering a sportier feel than the Bentayga but a more luxurious feel than the Urus. Ferrari is also set to enter this segment in the next year or so, which will create even more competition for the DBX when first deliveries begin in the second half of 2020.