What is it?
And so to the most important Aston Martin since the DB11, which was the most important Aston Martin since the DB9, which was the most important since the DB7, which was… well, you understand. The ‘most important’ tag accompanied Aston Martins perennially as the company went through the latter half of its first century, making some outstanding cars but seldom more than skimming the surface of making any money.
The ‘Second Century Plan’ was conceived to change all that. It was tentatively being followed under the stewardship of chairman and CEO Andy Palmer, who in 2015 introduced a business plan that would include seven core models (one replaced each year – “not rocket science”), cash-flow-generating special editions and a stock market flotation. That last part, which Palmer called a “key milestone”, turned out to be a key millstone.
Aston couldn’t have foreseen all of it. Who could? Falling car sales in China and a global pandemic later, money from the second-century DBS Superleggera, Vantage and DB11, cars perhaps too similar to each other, still wasn’t coming in fast enough and Aston needed new investors. Once they were found, they rapidly invited Palmer to leave through the door they had just entered. On 1 August, Tobias Moers, formerly boss of Mercedes’ AMG division but already no stranger to Aston’s headquarters in Gaydon, Warwickshire, took Palmer’s place.
The DBX, then – the most important Aston since… well, you understand – officially arrives under the German’s leadership. But be in no doubt: this is Palmer’s car.
It’s the result of bold ambition for a manufacturer of Aston’s size: new car, new market segment, new platform, new factory, first SUV, first full five-seater. The only way the DBX could be newer were if the hybridised V6 petrol engine that Aston is also working on were ready. As it is, Mercedes-AMG has provided both the new boss and familiar old power, in the form of a 542bhp twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre petrol V8.
This engine sits at the front of a new aluminium architecture, sited as far back under the bonnet as possible, giving the DBX a weight distribution of 54:46 front to rear. It drives the rear wheels most of the time but all four when it’s slippery, through a nine-speed automatic gearbox and a variety of differentials.