Pity the chief engineer tasked with trying to build an SUV that is fast, quiet, comfortable, capable of towing heavy loads and traversing grass, snow and mud, while going round corners quickly without tipping over but also with some movement built in to stop travel sickness (see the first Bentayga for that…). Oh, and it should be as fuel efficient as possible without diluting any of the brand’s performance credentials.
Luckily for Aston Martin, they have one of the world’s most accomplished engineers on hand: Matt Becker. The performance, and especially the handling, of the DBX, are therefore pretty awesome. Power comes from the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine that has seen plenty of service with Mercedes-AMG as well as in the DB11 and Vantage, and ramps up to 550 horsepower and 700Nm of torque, which means you could comfortably tow a trailer with a DB5 behind your DBX, but also means you can trundle easily at 4mph up extreme slopes while off-roading (who the hell is ever going to off-road in an Aston?).
More important to customers is how the DBX handles. As usual, Porsche provides the benchmark with its Cayenne and Macan SUVs, and Aston has easily matched its German competitor here. We did a couple of lockdown laps at Silverstone and the DBX was astonishing: composed, light (2.2 tonnes) and sharp but neat through the corners, with power feeding the rear wheels unless required temporarily for traction at the front. There are various drive modes – GT (normal), Sport and Sport +, which allows you latitude to let the rear slip quite far, but not so much that the car starts to roll.
Like everyone else, Becker has used active anti-roll bars controlled by a 48v electric motor but unlike many others, he has built in a degree of body roll instead of zero lateral sway, because it’s what SUV occupants expect.
Importantly, Becker has also used Aston’s own Vantage to benchmark the DBX, which sounded ridiculous when we first heard it, but, believe it or not, the DBX feels not dissimilar to Aston’s two-door sports car when you’re behind the wheel: light, compact, precise and quick. Which is quite astonishing.