Aston Martin DBX India review, test drive

    Published on Jul 24, 2021 08:00:00 AM

    43629 Views

    550hp of power meets 235mm of ground clearance. Say hello to the DBX, Aston Martin’s first-ever SUV.

    Model : DBX

    Not that you weren’t spoilt for choice already, but there’s a new way to spend Rs 4 crore on your next car. It’s called the DBX, it’s Aston Martin’s first-ever SUV and it’s here to lure you from the Uruses of the world. The promise is of a true-blue Aston – part thriller and part gentleman’s express – with seating for five and all the ground clearance you’d need. The India-friendly Bond car? This could be it.

    X Appeal

    It’s the size that gets you first. The tightly packed DBX might not look it in the photos, but it’s a whole lot of SUV in the metal. A quick spec check will tell you that, at 5m-plus long and near 2m wide, the DBX is as large as its super-SUV rivals. The standard-fit 22-inch rims fill out the large wheel arches well and you can even opt for 23-inchers of crazily complex designs. Road presence? The DBX has loads of it.

    22-inch rims are standard. 23-inchers are on the options list.

    And then there’s the design that’s classic Aston, beautifully reimagined for an SUV shape. The traditional DB grille, upsized to billboard dimensions here, immediately establishes this as an SUV from the house of Aston Martin and you’ll even find a connection to the GTs and sportscars in the long bonnet and tight-fitting roof. That very Vantage-like ducktail bootlid spoiler will also ensure you can’t mistake the DBX for anything but an Aston even from the back. My highlight? It’s the rear LED light strip that runs from shoulder to spoiler to shoulder.

    Vantage-like ducktail bootlid spoiler gives a distinct look.

    Flush-fitting door handles, frameless windows and metalwork around the dual exhausts are other details of interest, and there are some cool aero bits too. The DRLs up front outline ducts that channel air to the wheel arches, while large vents aft of the arches act as an exit, creating a drag-reducing air curtain. The high-mounted wing at the back isn’t for show either. It directs airflow along the rear windscreen to the spoiler and this movement forces water to self-clear (Aston’s words, not ours), explaining why there’s no rear wiper. Also, hidden from view but a crucial aero ingredient is the DBX’s flat undertray.

    Dressed To Impress

    ‘Swan doors’ cleverly engineered to open slightly upwards to help clear kerbs are an Aston trademark and feature here too, even if the high-riding DBX doesn’t necessarily need them. By virtue of its height, the DBX is the most convenient Aston Martin to get into (and out of) and inside, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a leather boutique. All large surfaces, from the roof liner down to the speaker covers on the doors, are finished in high-grade hide, and, in a first, even the roller blind for the panoramic glass roof is finished in Alcantara. There’s also beautiful brogue patternwork on the seats and centre console, and everything just comes together to tell you that a lot of love and labour has gone into making this interior feel special. There’s the usual choice of interior colours and themes, and should you want something bespoke, Aston Martin will only be happy to lead you to the Q Customisation programme.

    DBX expectedly offers easiest ingress and visibility of any Aston yet. Dash is sleek but not cutting edge.

    The DBX’s sculpted seats hold you snugly, the driving position is spot on and touch points like the glass start-stop button, large metal paddle shifters and even leather sunvisors feel suitably expensive. The window buttons don’t, but in the larger scheme of things, it’s a small complaint. There’s a pleasing look to the dashboard too. It’s not got the multiple screens that are de rigueur today, but that’s just fine; the capacitive switches for the climate control system do a better job than a dedicated screen would have. However, what does feel out with the times is the 10.25-inch centre screen. You’d expect it to be a touchscreen but it isn’t. Based on Mercedes’ last-gen infotainment system, it’s operated via a rotary controller at the centre console. You have no option but to get the hang of the system, but you’ll miss touch control when you have to operate Apple CarPlay on the go. The chunky buttons on the console for the mode selector, suspension height adjustment and more do get our vote, however.

    Infotainment screen is operated via rotary selector and touchpad.

    In terms of features, as standard, the DBX gets bi-LED headlamps, air suspension, 12.3-inch digital dials, a 10.25-inch screen, a 360-degree camera, 64-colour ambient lighting, an 800W sound system, three-zone climate control and powered front seats. You can add more to the car and might we suggest you tick the option for front and rear seat ventilation. Lane keep assist and adaptive cruise control are other optional features of interest.

    Panoramic glass roof makes cabin feel really airy and uniquely gets an Alcantara roller blind.

    The DBX caters to rear seat occupants well too. Where the Rapide – the last Aston for the family – felt cramped at the back, the DBX is suitably spacious. The substantial 3,060mm wheelbase equals lots of legroom at the back and headroom is great too. Large windows and the panoramic glass roof help accentuate the feeling of space inside. The stylish seats are comfortable but the high centre tunnel means the middle passenger will have to make some compromises in seating position.

    Rear seats are big on space and comfort but are ideal for just two occupants.

    The DBX’s powered tailgate opens to a 632-litre luggage area. It’s well shaped and usable and, you guessed it, features a leather-lined parcel tray. You could even get matching baggage with the optional Touring Pack that comprises a four-piece luggage set and cabin saddle bags. Should you need more space for luggage, the 40:20:40 split rear seats can be folded flat, and it’s reassuring that a space saver spare (positioned under the boot floor) has been included too.

    Fire And Fury

    Mercedes owns part of Aston Martin, and the German carmaker’s contribution to the DBX goes beyond the infotainment system, as powering the SUV is Mercedes-AMG’s sensational 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol engine. In the DBX, the engine makes 550hp and 700Nm. The power is channelled to all four wheels via Merc’s 9-speed torque-converter automatic gearbox. An electronically controlled active centre transfer case constantly regulates torque between the axles and can send 100 percent of power to the rear wheels when needed. A rear electronic limited slip differential decides what to do with that power, and there’s torque vectoring by braking too.

    4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine comes from AMG. It’s a powerhouse.

    Now, impressive as 550hp, 700Nm, 4.5sec to 100kph and V-Max of 290kph are, they aren’t best-in-class figures as super SUVs go. But don’t get lost in the numbers, because out on the road, the DBX is one hell of an entertaining SUV. Like other Astons, the DBX doesn’t rumble to life as much as it erupts to it. There’s depth to the engine note even at idle and a soft woofle will keep you company on your everyday commute. Go faster (you’ll be tempted to very often) and the exhaust note will get throatier and more wholesome. Sport mode amps things up, opening valves in the exhaust for the full sound show, replete with pops and crackles. And if you want the entire district to know you have a DBX, there’s a louder sport exhaust option too.

    Metalwork on exhaust surrounds ties in with DBX’s handcrafted vibe.

    Performance is also special. AMG’s bi-turbo engine is an absolute powerhouse and has been beautifully adapted for the DBX. It’s got the punchy mid-range you’d want, yet in its responsiveness, it almost feels like a naturally-aspirated unit. An Urus is more forceful in its build of power but the DBX is certainly not short on character. The 9-speed gearbox is on the ball for the most part, but tends to play catch-up to tugs at the paddle under hard driving.

    Curve Your Enthusiasm

    An SUV as fast as a sportscar isn’t a rarity anymore, but an SUV as fun as a sportscar is. The DBX belongs to this elite club. It starts with the electric steering that’s weighty, linear and precise. There’s a thrilling connection with the front wheels and, courtesy the rear axle bias of the all-wheel-drive system, the Aston turns with a fluidity you wouldn’t associate with a 2.2-tonne SUV. Brave drivers will also be able to make the most of the all-out Sport+ mode (it dials settings up for max attack and lowers the suspension by 50mm) to get the tail out. There’s loads and loads of grip too, and with the standard-fit 48V active anti-roll bars culling floppy side-to-side weight transfer so effectively, you’ll often exit a corner convinced you could have gone faster still. The best bit? It all feels very natural. The DBX doesn’t feel like an SUV that’s fighting the laws of physics like many of its rivals do. Braking is sure-footed and Aston Martin says the DBX will stop as quick as the DBS Superleggara.

     

    Journeys to great driving roads or your farmhouse outside thecity can also be made in great comfort. Toggle the drive mode selector to ‘GT’ and the DBX changes character to become an easygoing long-distance machine. The exhaust lowers in volume,the suspension softens and the electric anti-roll bars ease up for more give. The suspension ably soaks up imperfections, though there’s some firmness that comes through the low-profile tyres. We didn’t put the Aston’s dedicated off-road modes, hill-descent control or 500mm water-wading ability to the test, but nor would the DBX’s well-heeled owners. More pertinent consumer information is that ground clearance is sufficient in the suspension’s stock position, and it’s handy that you have the option to raise ride height by 45mm.

    DBX Marks The Spot

     

    Let’s get one thing out of the way first. The DBX will always be seen in light of the Lamborghini Urus – the current darling of India’s super-SUV buying elite. The Urus is more extreme, more powerful, and more flamboyant, and in base spec, could cost you less; though final prices even out when you start ticking the options to bring the Lambo up to the DBX’s spec.

    Opting for the Rs 3.8 crore (ex-showroom) DBX might seem like going against the tide, but this is an equally charismatic SUV. It’s a subtler take on the super SUV that draws you in with its glamorous design and handcrafted cabin, and eventually wins you over with a truly engaging driving experience. The exclusivity an Aston Martin promises sure counts for a lot too.

    Owners are unlikely to use their DBX as a daily driver, but imagine how gratifying it is to know there’s an all-weather, all-purpose Aston Martin waiting for you to break away in.

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