2021 ASTON MARTIN DBX

It may be hard to believe, but many people seem to forget that Aston Martin is well over 100 years old, 108 years to be exact, since its foundation in 1913. Throughout the century, the brand has seen its ups and downs, and in more recent years, mostly downs. However, last year (2020) marked a new era for the British manufacturer as Canadian Billionaire Lawrence Stroll (born and raised in Montreal) became the Executive Chairman after leading an investment consortium that became the majority shareholder in the brand. With a new management team at the helm, the future’s looking brighter than ever for Aston Martin, and the introduction of the brand’s first-ever SUV, the DBX has only added multiple steps forward in the right direction. Whether you support their decision to make an SUV or not, the numbers don’t lie. In the first quarter of this year, Aston sold 1353 cars, with the DBX accounting for 55% of all sales. From one Montrealer to another, thank you, Mr. Stroll. Sure the data speaks for itself, but what is it like to truly live with an Aston Martin DBX? I recently had the opportunity to spend 24 hours behind the wheel of one, and it’s definitely different from anything else in its segment.

Right off the bat, it’s not hard to differentiate this SUV from the others in the market. With its iconic grille and design cues that were taken from its sports cars, notably the Vantage, wherever I drove, everyone knew that an Aston Martin was in their presence. Also, the optional Buckinghamshire Green exterior color (god bless the Brits and their color names) and tan interior gave the vehicle so much presence, whether moving or stationary. On the topic of presence, in photos, the DBX gives the impression that it’s around the same dimensions as a Porsche Macan, however, when you see it in person, you quickly realize that this is, in fact, a full-size SUV with similar proportions to a Cayenne. 

Under the hood, the DBX is powered by the same twin-turbo 4.0 liter V-8 engine that is found in the Vantage, but instead of making 503 hp and 505 lb-ft of torque, the numbers have been increased for the DBX with 542 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention, just like the Vantage, the engine is supplied by Mercedes-AMG, which, for those of you who don’t know, now has a 20% stake in Aston Martin. In fact, several components from Mercedes-AMG, such as the 9-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel-drive system, are found in the DBX as well. Performance-wise, as you can imagine, the DBX is no slouch capable of reaching 100 km/h in 4.3 seconds and has a top speed of 292 km/h.

You might be thinking to yourself, okay, John, it’s fast, but how does it handle our horrid pothole-filled Montreal roads? With numerous drive modes available, including two different off-road modes, the DBX is capable of handling any terrain at ease quite well. I say ‘quite well’ because, in GT mode, which is its most comfortable-softest setting, I still found that it was still stiff at times. Put the vehicle in Sport+, and holy f***, does it ever come alive! You can tell the engineers leaned on the performance side during its development. From the roaring of the V8 to the pops and crackles from the optional sports exhaust system, you forget that you’re in a full-size SUV. Most importantly, it handles, and I mean HANDLES. I can’t remember the last time I drove an SUV that handled that well.  

Inside the DBX, in typical Aston Martin fashion, it is filled with an ample amount of leather, and the seats are extremely comfortable and supportive. The Alcantara headliner, wood trim, and stitching details proved to be nice additions as well. Overall, the cabin is very spacious for both front and rear occupants, and the panoramic full-length glass roof adds to the overall airiness. Technology-wise, this is where the DBX suffers. Remember when I said that Mercedes has 20% in Aston? Well, they have incorporated Mercedes’ infotainment system, however, it’s not the latest and greatest from the brand, but rather the previous generation. From it not being particularly fast to the fact that there is no wireless charging, and most importantly, it is not a touch screen. Aston, please resolve this issue asap, please, and thanks. Another pet peeve throughout my time with the DBX was the fact that there is no option for soft-close doors. You might think that’s such a silly detail to complain about, but Aston Martin doors are not particularly light, and I often found myself needing to quite literally slam the doors to ensure they are closed.

With a starting price of $203,500 CAD, my tester with all the optional equipment came in at $238,680. If I had to summarize my time with the DBX in one line, it would be that Aston Martin was late to the party. Think about it, the competition is extremely fierce, and they have had the opportunity to perfect their offerings for at least 5 years now. With that being said, the DBX may not be perfect, and there are definitely a few minor things that need to be resolved, however, it’s a very strong starting point for Aston, and I commend them for tapping into a segment they so desperately needed to be a part of in order for them to be financially stable; better late than never.

Vehicle provided by Aston Martin Americas

Photography by Olivier Lessard

A special mention and congratulations to Decarie Motors as this year marks their 75th anniversary

A version of this article was published on www.spottedcars.com on July 14, 2021

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