Power in the range-topper will come from Aston’s 5.2-litre V12, which will be retuned from the 600bhp and 516lb ft unit found in the DB11. There will also be an AMG-sourced 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 that makes 503bhp and 498lb ft and — in time — an all-electric powertrain that will be developed as proprietary technology by Aston with input from Williams Advanced Engineering. Palmer has ruled out diesel versions of the DBX.
However, Palmer confirmed that a hybrid version will be developed, but it will not feature plug-in hybrid technology because research suggests luxury car buyers do not consider the experience to be premium enough.
This revelation raises the possibility of Aston using the high-performance powertrain from the Mercedes-AMG GT Concept that was revealed at the Geneva motor show last year. Its hybrid unit combines AMG’s twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 with an electric motor to deliver a combined 800bhp. In the GT Concept, that equates to a 0-62mph time of less than three seconds, although the DBX will be heavier. The battery is charged as the car is being driven through brake energy recuperation as well as with the aid of the petrol engine.
However, Palmer also highlighted the lessons the company had learned while developing the hybrid KERS-style system with Red Bull Advanced Technologies for Aston's Valkyrie hypercar, suggesting the firm could use a modified version of that instead of turning to Mercedes.
In terms of ride and handling goals, Palmer highlighted the characteristics of the Porsche Macan. “It is probably dynamically the best car in the SUV category,” he said.
The interior of the DBX is set to take a new approach, with the design team having to focus more than ever on practicality. “There are certain issues you can’t compromise on that perhaps we haven’t given such credence to in the past — ingress and egress, for starters, and whether it is a car you sit on or sit in,” said Palmer. “DBX is a revolution for Aston in so many ways and that has meant that we have had to adapt our way of thinking in places.
“We have one rule that never changes, which is that we don’t trade off beauty. But if you want the design to reflect its '4x4-ness' and to deliver the sort of utility that customers expect from these cars, then you have find ways to achieve that. A 4x4 needs to be big, it needs to convey safety and security, and yet it also needs to be easy to get in and out of.”
Aston has created focus groups of existing customers to provide input, including the much-vaunted female focus group, which was instigated on Palmer’s suggestion as soon as the concept car was revealed after it emerged that just 3500 of the firm’s lifetime sales of 70,000 cars were to women.