Doing that while simultaneously building a new factory for the new model to be made in – and all during one of the FTSE’s most disastrous company flotations in recent years – was clearly also a very tough test. And yet Aston Martin has succeeded. There’s also a new boss and a new majority shareholder and chairman – and, more importantly, the DBX is now three months into production in St Athan, Wales.
The DBX is in some ways like the firm’s range of sports cars and grand touring coupés. Like them, it’s built on an all-aluminium platform which is also all-new, made from a mix of extrusions and castings bonded together, which in turn makes the car both rigid and light compared with its rivals. That would clearly be the right way to start for the most dynamic-handling car in its segment but, compared with some of its competitors at least, it may be a questionable claim. Aston claims a kerb weight of 2245kg, but we weighed the car at 2328kg. That figure, although less than the 12-cylinder Bentley Bentayga we tested in 2016, was just over 130kg heavier than the Lamborghini Urus we tested last year.
Aside from being Aston Martin’s first SUV, this is also the company’s first car with air suspension (a three-chamber set-up, height adjustable by up to 95mm) and also with 48V electric system-powered active antiroll bars. Additionally, the DBX uses double-wishbone front suspension and a multi-link rear axle.
The car’s powertrain consists of a modified version of the Mercedes-AMG-sourced 4.0-litre turbocharged V8 (with revised turbocharging and cooling systems and a lower compression ratio), which produces a peak 542bhp. This isn’t the kind of figure that will lure people out of quicker rivals on its own, but with engine capacity-based tax rules set as they are in important markets such as China, you can see why Gaydon might start with a V8 version of this car, then perhaps aim for a plug-in hybrid next and save any fire-breathing V12 for later down the line.
The DBX is also notable for shunning the ZF eight-speed gearbox that other Astons have in favour of Mercedes’ nine-speed torque converter. It’s this transmission’s upper torque limit that is rumoured to be the reason why the V8’s peak torque output has been pegged at 516lb ft.