One of the biggest potential laughs in automotive-themed time travel would be to set your dial to the mid-1990s—the beginning of Aston Martin’s Ford era—and roll up to Aston’s old Bloxham, U.K., factory in a contemporary Explorer SUV. Posing as a FoMoCo executive, in your ill-fitting suit, you’d round up a cluster of Aston’s finest engineers. “I want you to make that,” you’d say with a smile, pointing at the Explorer, “handle, ride, look, and sound like that,” swinging your finger over to a DB7 in the car park.
Thankfully, back in the present, the British automaker developed its actual first-ever SUV, the 2021 Aston Martin DBX, on its own terms, unbeholden to any looming corporate overlords. And the result breathes life into our ridiculous fantasy: The DBX is a crossover SUV that damn near handles, rides, looks, and sounds like today’s Vantage.
After a week spent driving the DBX on the road and at our test track, it’s obvious Aston dug deep to create its SUV. That’s a good thing, considering this is one of the biggest leaps the boutique automaker has ever made. Aston’s not particularly well known for fat budgets, and its development of an SUV on a proprietary platform with such attention to detail and a well-sorted chassis is nothing short of a leather-lined miracle.
We’re sure Aston’s technical partner, Mercedes-Benz, would have been tickled pink to license or supply one of its many SUV platforms, but as in the cases of the Vantage and DB11 V8, Aston handled the basic architecture while helping itself to the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8, nine-speed automatic transmission, 4Matic all-wheel-drive system, electronic architecture, and infotainment from the Mercedes and AMG warehouses.
The Aston/AMG partnership has coalesced around that 4.0-liter, which slots under the hood of every Aston model save the V-12-only DBS Superleggera. To help cope with the DBX’s 5,086-pound heft—a good 1,350 pounds more than the Vantage—engineers goosed an additional 39 horsepower and 11 lb-ft of torque from the V-8 to ensure it fends off full-throttle salvos from competing performance SUVs. Teamed with Mercedes’ snappy gearbox and clever all-wheel drive, the 4.0-liter hustled the big Aston through our quarter-mile test in 12.5 seconds and through the 0–60 sprint in 4.0 ticks. “It takes a second for the engine to really wake up even when standing on the brake on the starting line to spool the turbos,” associate road test editor Erick Ayapana said. “But once that happens, it fires out of the hole like a rocket.”
That’s excellent performance for a four-door, five-person anything, but it notably lags the outrageously quick 3.2-second 0–60 run and 11.7-second quarter mile we recorded during our test of the similarly expensive Porsche Cayenne Turbo Coupe last year, to say nothing of what the Lamborghini Urus managed to notch: 60 mph in 3.0 seconds and the quarter in 11.3.
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