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The British brand’s first SUV has finally become a reality after more than four years of development and testing
The first Aston Martin DBX has rolled off the production line at the St Athan manufacturing facility in Wales, the UK. Deliveries of the DBX will start across the UK by the end of the month, with around 80 per cent of production expected to be exported and sold overseas. Hence there’s a clear chance of the DBX making its Indian entry, albeit by mid 2021. Once on our shores, it’ll go up against the Lamborghini Urus and Bentley Bentayga.
Nevertheless, the first DBX rolling off the production line is more than just an automobile manufacturer ticking off a new product. That is because there’s more going on here than meets the eye. Fact is, Aston Martin had always been known for its sleek front-engined, rear-wheel-drive grand tourers, countless examples of which were popularised across decades by a certain British spy in Her Majesty Secret Service. So when showgoers at the 2015 Geneva Auto Show laid their eyes on what then seemed to be a jacked-up Vantage, all preconceived notions were thrown right out the window.
We then got multiple sneak peeks of the Aston Martin DBX being put through the paces everywhere from a Welsh rally stage to Pirelli’s cold weather testing facility in Sweden.
Tip to toe
As of the end of 2019, details around the DBX were cleared and confirmed. Visually, the key design cues are reminiscent of the DB11, DBS Superleggera, and Vantage. The narrow grille that widens at the bottom is flanked by the familiar swept-back headlights. Lower down, the DRL surrounds double up as aero ducts, channeling air through the front wheel arches and along the sides.
In profile, the DBX is a mix of traditional Aston Martin and modern SUV features. Despite the taller SUV bodyline, it sports side skirts that seem inspired by the DB11. The roofline is undoubtedly coupe-SUV, with the blacked-out B- and C-pillars creating a ‘floating roof’ effect. This sporty theme is carried on to the rear, with a flip-up spoiler on the tailgate lip which not only looks unique, but is also functional. The slim taillights feature a light bar follows the shape of the boot lip, forming a distinctive-looking arch.
Now, like other Aston Martin models, the infotainment technology and powertrain in the DBX are borrowed from Mercedes-Benz and AMG, respectively. Hence, stepping into the cabin and the 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system dominates the dashboard, while the 12.3-inch cluster with HUD taking pride of place behind a new flat-bottomed steering wheel, while the centre console sports Mercedes’ COMAND module. Apart for these, however, the dual-tone leather-covered dashboard looks understated, with thin, vertical AC vents on the sides.
Going under the hood, and we see the DBX using the the German performance brand’s M177 4-litre twin-turbo V8 mated to the Mercedes’ trademark 9G-Tronic 9-speed auto ’box, making 542bhp and 700Nm, capable of accelerating the over 2.2-tonne SUV from 0–100 kmph in 4.5 seconds, and on to a top speed of over 290kmph. And, its all-wheel-drive system ensures the DBX will help Aston Martin bolster its presence in developing markets, where the weather or terrain isn’t conducive to low-slung rear-wheel-drive sportscars.
What lies ahead
Aston Martin, which has struggled with cash flow and dealer-inventory back-ups since going public in 2018, recently received a £536 million (approximately Rs 5000 crore) capital infusion from a group led by billionaire Lawrence Stroll, who brought in investors including Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff.
Additionally, the St Athan facility the first DBX rolled out of is also conventionally new, as the brand invested into renovating the site, a former UK Ministry of Defence facility, into an automobile manufacturing unit only about four years ago. So with a new facility as well as revitalised coffers, Aston Martin looks to be somewhat on the upturn. The only thing remaining now is for enthusiasts to get their hands on this sporty SUV, which may as well see the brand turning over a new leaf.
Marek Reichman, Aston Martin Executive Vice President and Chief Creative Officer, who was at St Athan to witness the completion of the first SUV designed by his team, said, "We are incredibly proud of our first SUV, which is as much of an Aston Martin as any one of our sports cars. From my design team to the engineers, the vehicle dynamics team and all the experts who hand-craft this beautiful car, here at St Athan, the DBX has become the car that will drive Aston Martin into a bold new era.”