Currently reading: First ride: 2020 Aston Martin DBX prototype
Aston Martin’s first SUV will be unveiled later this month but we’ve had a preview
Matt Prior
4 mins read
6 November 2019

Autocar has been given early access to the Aston Martin DBX ahead of the car’s unveiling on 20 November, including a passenger ride alongside Aston’s chief engineer, Matt Becker.

The new SUV will be the most complex car in the company’s history when it arrives next year and Aston Martin has confirmed a starting price of £158,000.

UPDATE: The Aston Martin DBX has been revealed - full story here

The five-door 4x4 rides on a new aluminium platform and will be powered initially by a 542bhp 4.0-litre Mercedes-AMG V8. The twin turbocharged has been given an Aston tune, particularly aurally, with less bass than in its AMG applications. It drives through a nine speed torque-converter automatic gearbox, the first time Aston has used the Mercedes ‘9G’ transmission. Other powertrains will follow and the platform will be used for other Aston models.

The new platform allows the engine to be placed well back in the engine bay and none of the block overhangs the 22in front wheels. Extruded chassis sections along its length meet vast castings at each corner, providing great body strength. Aston says torsional rigidity, at 27,000Nm/deg, is high, but that just as important is great hard-point stiffness to reduce road noise.

There’s a slight, 54:46 front biased weight distribution to the 2245kg off-roader. Aston values vehicle handling highly and, as a result, the DBX has a raft of dynamics systems “without which you couldn’t do it”, according to Becker.

There is double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension, triple-chamber air springs at each corner, adaptive Bilstein dampers and 48V active anti-roll bars, which, Aston says, are specced to provide 1033lb ft of roll resistance, more torque than in any rival. Overall, the DBX has less body roll than a Vantage. Aston could have made it roll not at all, but apparently that “feels weird”, said Becker.


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Aston has benchmarked heavily ahead of launching a car in a new segment. It says it has tried nearly all of its rivals but has particularly targeted the BMW X6 M, Range Rover Sport SVR and Porsche Cayenne Turbo. This car is as large a leap for Aston as the Cayenne was for Porsche. “You have to change your test procedures because sports car procedures don’t work,” said Becker.

The targets are challenging because the remit of an SUV is so broad. “Working on this makes you a fan of SUVs,” admitted Becker.

The DBX has a centre differential that can place up to 47% of power to the front wheels or leave 100% going to the rear, where there’s an electronically controlled limited-slip differential. On a damp Stowe circuit at Silverstone, which Aston recently adopted as its test track, it was possible to slide the car around – not something customers will ever do, but evidence that Aston takes handling seriously, even in this market sector.

Different drive modes can drop the ride height by up to 30mm for on-road dynamism or raise it by 45mm off road, where, with a 500mm wade depth and anti-roll bars that are effectively disengaged. The DBX can pull 2.7 tonnes and have 100kg mounted on its roof. It is available with regular, all-season or winter tyres, all bespoke Pirellis.

The DBX seemed extremely capable off road, although pulling a horse box across wet grass is “the metric” customer demand, said Becker.

On the Aston’s roll bars, the motors can’t be disconnected and will drag, so sometimes, rather than putting torque in to reduce roll, power is applied to them to increase articulation and make the car ride with more flow.

This, you suspect, is the hardest part of getting a car to feel right: the endless hours, days, weeks of tuning everything in the hope that when you eventually try it, it feels natural to you, the customer. There’s no active rear-steer for that reason.

The car we saw was covered inside but sneaking looks and prods beneath the rugs showed that Aston has taken material quality more seriously than in its sports cars and a new image seems to confirm it. It gets Mercedes’ electrical architecture, with infotainment from the latest generation, classier-looking instruments than in other Astons and fewer obvious plastics.

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It’s also roomy, seating tall adults behind tall adults with ease and with generous access to the rear seats.

Aston hasn’t confirmed the precise specs but says the DBX has a longer wheelbase than a Bentley Bentayga’s (which is 2995mm) yet is slightly shorter overall (the Bentayga is 5140mm long), meaning little wheel-arch ingress around the back doors. Boot space is 480 litres.

The car we saw was a ‘1PT’ prototype, the first of three phases of prototypes built in Aston’s new plant in St Athan, Wales: 2PT and 3PT will follow, with Job 1 models, the first customer cars, arriving in showrooms in late spring.


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6 November 2019

6 November 2019

His designs just aren't working.


If you look at the shape of this it looks versy similar to the Jaguar E-Pace, and not as good looking either.   Even what's been revealed from the nose just looks disjointed.   And what's the 7 on the sides for?   Copying the BMW Z4?


Inside those air vents look transported from an era long long ago!   Rear door cards have a dijointed mess of a design on them, which doesn't bode well for when we finally see the front.   It is better looking overall than the mess that is the V8 Vantage.   But then, we've not seen the full disaster yet.


For a car that Aston are betting the farm on it really has to wow like no others.   From what I've seen so far there's a lot of positives, that you can see the interior materials are a step up from what to expect of a mass production Range Rover.   But then the Bentley Bentayga that is reported to be cheaper but does have that special interior.   One that doesn't look a disjointed mess.


Aston seem to have the right ingredients for success.   They just need a better chef.


7 November 2019

but can we wait to see it without cammo before savaging it? 


6 November 2019

Have they tried to make it that ugly? It's hideous 

6 November 2019

It looks more FORD than Aston

6 November 2019
xxxx wrote:

It looks more FORD than Aston

Must admit I thought similar, though in profile it doesn't look too bad but the front is very ford, but then ford has mimicked Aston's grill.

6 November 2019

To be fair I’ve seen one of these on the road and thought it looked quite nice. Somehow it doesn’t photograph well

6 November 2019
TStag wrote:

To be fair I’ve seen one of these on the road and thought it looked quite nice. Somehow it doesn’t photograph well

...I find that many cars, these days, don't seem to photograph well, and that I'm often (but not always) pleasantly surprised when I see an assumed munter on the road. Does the fault, perhaps, lie with current styles of photography? Perhaps they'd be better off using a lens with a longer focal length, in the manner of portrait photographers.

6 November 2019

The Audi RS Q8 next to it on the front page today looks so much better from outside, and is almost certainly cheaper, faster, and, with 4WS, more agile as well.

As Symanski said, the Bentayaga has a better interior and will no doubt be more comfortable.

This seems to have no USP at all other than if you really like an Aston badge.

6 November 2019

Somehow it just looks desirable, less SUV and more sporty estate, albeit very big and heavy. And, let's face it, the DBX couldn't possibly look as bad as the Bentayga.

At around that price I'd pick the Aston, not that I'm in that market. But I reckon that it does have a USP: "sporty gentleman's GT" Not a sports car, though no Astons are, but a great way to cross countries, if not country, in luxury, style and with great views out. And in.

if I have a bone to pick, Aston don't seem to be greatly bothered about the damage such cars do to the environment. O.K. their owners don't care about fuel economy, but many would be concerned about the emissions. But, at least it's not a diesel and never will be. One day, it will be electric: get in with it, Aston!



A view from Down Under


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