2021 Aston Martin DBX SUV First Look: Price, Specs, and Every Detail
It’s Aston’s turn to showcase what it can do in the monstrously expensive SUV space.
Pick your cliché: The ship has sailed, the train has left the station, the horse has left the barn. Yes, Aston Martin is doing an SUV. So have Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Lamborghini, Maserati, and soon enough, Ferrari. OK, not McLaren—yet (it swears it never will, but so did Ferrari). Can we get over this already? Über-luxe and big-bucks crossovers like the 2021 Aston Martin DBX are here to stay, and based on what we've seen so far of the DBX up close and on paper, Aston won't be able to roll enough of them out of its brand spanking new factory in St. Athan, Wales, to satisfy demand.
"This is perhaps the most important car for us in a century insofar as it's our first venture outside of the traditional sports-car look," remarked Aston Martin's global CEO Andy Palmer at a special preview of the DBX prior to the 2019 U.S. Formula 1 Grand Prix in Austin, Texas.
For limited volume, high-end luxury marques like the 106-year-old Aston Martin, it's all about maintaining that aura of exclusivity, of building one fewer vehicle than demand warrants. That, and at slightly more than $190,000 to start—don't think for a minute customers will be ordering one at anywhere near that amount—the 2021 DBX already has a built in barrier to entry. Only the golden-heeled need apply.
A sizable chunk of that gold is being mined from China of course, and Aston decided to use the Guangzhou International Automobile Exhibition as the launching pad for the 2021 DBX as part of a larger global reveal. But despite that play to the Chinese market, it's a good bet that the U.S. is where most DBXs will roam, with deliveries for North America set to begin in the second half of next year.
After looking at the specs and hearing about its mission, the Aston Martin DBX will reside somewhere in the gray area between the likes of the über-luxury-swathed Rolls-Royce Cullinan and Bentley Bentayga and super-sport crossovers like the Lamborghini Urus and Porsche Cayenne Turbo. With a stated zero-to-60-mph time of 4.3 seconds and a top speed of 181 mph, it's not as fast as some and it doesn't have the highest terminal velocity, but it will hang with the best—thanks in large part to its specially tuned, 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 with 542 horsepower. And while it will be every bit the match of the Cullinan and Bentayga from an interior materials and fit and finish perspective, it also nods quite firmly to a sporting mission befitting Aston's legacy.
This isn't some badge-engineered, shared-platform vehicle, either. One of the most surprising things about the new Aston DBX is that it's a clean-sheet design from the ground up, which allowed the Aston engineering team more freedom to dictate how the DBX was developed. The body is put together using a bonded aluminum construction process similar to that of Aston's sports cars. The heavy use of aluminum (suspension mounts are also cast in the metal) aided in improving the DBX's overall rigidity and also helped keep the weight of the Aston crossover down to just south of 5,000 pounds all in.
As for the suspension bolted to those aluminum mountings, the bones of the setup are a double wishbone, split-link front, and multilink rear design. But as you'd expect, there are multiple other systems piled on top of that in an effort to further optimize the DBX's at the limit handling, off-road ability, and around-town usability.
The all-wheel-drive DBX utilizes electronically adjustable center and rear differentials that can optimize torque delivery from front to rear (up to 100 percent rear) or side to side using an electronic limited-slip differential depending on driving mode or road condition. What Aston calls a "triple volume" air suspension can raise the car 1.77 inches or lower it by 1.97 inches to aid entry and exit as well as help improve off-road driving angles. Fun fact: The DBX can ford up to 19.7 inches of water with the suspension at its highest setting.
But Aston is proudest of is what it calls eARC, an electronically controlled anti-roll system specially developed for the 2021 DBX. Essentially a replacement for traditional, physically mounted anti-roll bars, eARC, which is powered by a separate, 48-volt battery, is designed to help tighten or loosen the suspension depending on how you want to drive. You want cornering akin to a DB11, you got it thanks to eARC in its most aggressive setting. If you're loping around town to the mall, you can dial it back and it will help smooth out the choppy pavement to get you and your passengers there comfortably.
All of these systems work together to allow the driver to select from six different driving modes, including Sport and Sport+, of course, but also Terrain and Terrain+ for those times when you need a little more traction. Aston also has also added a hill-descent feature for those hearty few who may actually need it. Further aiding ride and handling are a sportier 14.4:1 steering ratio and three special Pirelli tire fitments. Summer P Zeros are standard, with Pirelli Scorpion Zero all seasons or winters available, sized 285/40 front and 325/35 rear and wrapped around 22-inch wheels.
"What we believe that we have delivered here is the best handling car in the segment, which is a tall order because there are some awesome cars out there." Palmer said. He added that DBX prototypes have been running sub-eight-minute laps of the Nürburgring.
Motivating the DBX's 5,000 pounds so all those systems can be put to use is what Aston calls a significant update of the 4.0-liter, twin-turbo V-8 featured in several of its recent offerings. Sourced from Mercedes-AMG, Aston engineers have tuned the engine specifically for DBX duty (upgraded turbos, different firing order, compression ratio), with the aforementioned 542 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque being fed to that nine-speed automatic transmission optimized to handle the power. (Another fun fact: The DBX can tow just south of 6,000 pounds.) Slowing the DBX down is a set of 16.1-inch front steel discs with six-piston calipers and 15.4 rears. Different active exhaust modes can change the vehicle's sound profile, and if you want even more noise, a special sport exhaust is an available option.
So while all of this hardware and associated systems are duly impressive, it's the exterior styling and interior appointments that will help sell the 2021 Aston Martin DBX as much if not more so. From the front, you're not going to mistake this vehicle for anything other than an Aston Martin, thanks to an interpretation of its signature DB grille, flanked by daytime running light banks that also double as air inlets. "This is the strongest Aston Martin grille that we've produced, probably since the DB5," Palmer said, "We wanted to make sure it had an extraordinarily strong face."
Further functional details are vents in the hood and behind the front wheels, to help aid aerodynamics and cooling. Unlike the Cullinan and Bentayga, the DBX is more low slung in profile, but without any compromise in space. In fact, Aston says the DBX is bigger than the Bentley and Rolls in several key passenger (rear legroom) and cargo dimensions (54 cubic feet with the 40/20/40-split rear seats down) thanks in part to its long, 120.5-inch wheelbase.
Frameless windows lend the DBX a further open air feel, and the 22-inch rims in two options at the outset aid with the vehicle's presence and don't seem cartoonishly big. Out back, there's a significant rooftop spoiler as well as a lip spoiler reminiscent of the Aston Vantage's. Large, carbon-fiber-wrapped tailpipes frame a black diffuser piece that looks decidedly racier than elegant in presentation.
Open the door and you'll see a significant amount of attention was paid to making sure getting into and out of the DBX is easy and mess-free. Look up to see a giant piece of glass running the length of the roof. Grab hold of the new steering wheel, and there are new controls and behind it is a set of long paddles fixed to the steering column. The front buckets are snug and sporty, and the cockpit seat was designed to fit anyone from basketball players to shortstops. Two TFT screens, a 12.3-inch instrument panel and 10.25-inch center-stack screen, display all the relevant information (electronics were provided by Daimler and optimized for use with the DBX). Engaging the DBX is done via buttons at the top of the center dash area, similar in scope to other contemporary Astons.
Given its price point, it should be no surprise that all manner of high end interior materials come standard and available for the Aston DBX, including Caithness full-grain leather supplied by Aston's long time supplier Bridge of Weir, carbon fiber, metal, and wood trim accents depending on spec, and Aston's new, special wool blend material is an available option. Every DBX will be handcrafted with some 200 hours of work stitching and fitting it all together, and should you want more personal touches, Q by Aston Martin is on call to oblige. "You can dress the car as if it were a Savile Row suit," Palmer said of the personalization options.
Other standard and available kit includes Apple CarPlay, an 800-watt sound system, a surround-view camera, and a host of active safety systems including lane departure, automatic emergency braking, and rear cross-traffic alert. Oh, and you can add on all sorts of wild options from a gun-rack setup to a special luggage set to a ski package.
Add it all up and from what we can make of it thus far without yet driving it, the 2021 Aston Martin DBX should give the golden-heeled masses more than a bit of pause before choosing another monstrously expensive SUV. Yes, Aston went there, and if it means profits generated by the DBX deliver more sports cars, we can certainly live with that.
|2021 Aston Martin DBX Specifications|
|ON SALE||Summer 2020|
|ENGINE||4.0L twin-turbo, 32 valve DOHC V-8/542 hp @ 6,250 rpm, 516 lb-ft @ 1,750-4,250 rpm (@ rpm est)|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD SUV|
|EPA MILEAGE||17/23 mpg (city/hwy) (est)|
|L x W x H||198.4 x 87.4 x 66.1 in|
|TOP SPEED||181 mph|