As we’ve hinted at already, the DBX isn’t the kind of big luxury car that cossets and isolates at every opportunity. If it went straight after the likes of the Bentayga and Range Rover for outright refinement, it probably wouldn’t sound, feel or drive in a way you’d recognise nearly so easily from a big Aston Martin.
The DBX is quite unusual among large, expensive SUVs because it deliberately keeps you in fairly close contact with the road surface underneath you. The steering is weighty, connected and tactile in your palms, while the ride is a little noisier, more reactive and less filtering than the luxury SUV norm – but it remains supple and agreeable at its best. Like so many modern luxury cars, this is one you need to get to know to really enjoy. Finding the specific combination of steering, powertrain, suspension and exhaust settings to suit your particular taste is key; but once you have, the car’s natural charm and swagger lifts it above the level of so many fast luxury 4x4s for outright driver appeal.
The DBX likes a smooth surface in Sport mode. Selecting this not only firms up the adaptive dampers but also drops its ride height and stiffens its active anti-roll bars. And as long as you’re on an even, smooth surface, there’s plenty of agility, a good level of body control and good outright balance to be enjoyed. The car probably doesn’t quite grip and dive like the most aggressively tuned fast 4x4s of our current times, but it manages to feel incisive and very composed at big road speeds while communicating its limits well and retaining what you might refer to as natural and coherent-feeling, stability-centred ‘big-car’ handling.
On an average UK B-road, however, there’s a shade too much head-toss and lateral fidget admitted into the car when it’s configured for maximum dynamism. Most testers therefore preferred the DBX’s slightly softer GT mode suspension.
The DBX’s height-adjustable air suspension gives it as much off-road ability as owners of a near-£200k exotic car are likely to want. The numbers (on right, and which apply to the car at its maximum ride height) are further proof that while Gaydon clearly wanted some dual-purpose versatility for the DBX, it didn’t intend to make this a car with the last word in mud-plugging ability. These are the statistics of a semi-serious SUV rather than a proper off-roader.
Even so, the car is available with the choice of Pirelli all-season or full-on winter tyres, if you’d prefer either to the standard-fit performance P Zero road tyres. We tested it on mud and gravel with the all-season option, and it didn’t struggle to climb slippery grades or handle fairly deep ruts.