Published on May 31st, 2022 | by Subhash Nair


Aston Martin DBX Needs To Be Experienced To Be Understood

The Aston Martin DBX brings style and an old school quality to the segment.

When it comes to the ultra performance sector, SUVs are making a big splash. Once a taboo, the SUV is now the bread and butter of many traditional sportscar and supercar brands including Porsche and Lamborghini. Before Ferrari could join the fun, Aston Martin arrived with their own take on the high-performance SUV in the form of the DBX.

Aston Martin DBX front

We got to test drive an Aston Martin DBX in Kuala Lumpur and we learnt first hand what sets this luxury SUV apart from its competitors. Let’s start with the really good stuff.

The way this DBX looks, moves, smells and sounds is truly rungs above anything else I’ve ever driven. There are parts of this car that truly feel sculptural. My biggest gripe with modern car design is that so much of today’s fantastic car designs are the result of a lot of plastic and 3D modelling. The result is a lot of mass market cars today look fantastic in photos, but end up looking a lot plainer in the metal. The human eye sees right through the sheet-thin plastic veneer that makes up the facade of many of today’s automobiles. Yes, even many of the ‘premium’ ones.

The Aston Martin DBX isn’t quite like that. They’ve used aluminium for everything from the front grille to the air cond vents. This gives the DBX a very old world quality.

They’ve even omitted the matte plastic cladding that goes on every crossover and soft-roader SUV from Honda BR-V to the Lamborghini Urus. Even under the hood where most people will never see, there’s tactile cast-aluminium surfacing from the chassis exposed. In the cabin, the use of plastic is also kept to a minimum. Trim pieces are mostly leather or metal except for the centre stack, buttons and infotainment system.

That leads us to the design of the DBX. When I first saw it on the move it looked like nothing else I’d ever seen. The last SUV that had proportions this extreme was the first generation BMW X6. Since then, nothing else has really been quite as shocking. Not even the Urus, which comes across as a bit awkward in real life to my eyes.

The Aston Martin DBX manages to look very much like a supercar or a GT despite being an SUV, and that’s down to the bespoke chassis that was developed for this vehicle. It comes across as a segment smaller than it actually is. In fact, the boot is very much constrained by the design of its lid and the height of its floor.

But it wouldn’t be an Aston Martin if design did not take the highest possible priority. Most of its million Ringgit rivals – the Bentley Bentayga, the Lamborghini Urus and maybe even a fully-decked out Porsche Cayenne, sit on shared platforms. The Aston Martin DBX was developed from the ground up with its own unique chassis and it shows in the proportions and wheelbase of 3.06m.

Nothing short of a Rolls-Royce Cullinan comes close to that, and the Cullinan doesn’t even have sporty intentions built into its DNA. Bentley had to reissue the Bentayga with an extended wheelbase 7 years after the model debuted just to beat the DBX’s wheelbase.

The car also sounds and (surprisingly) smells amazing, especially on the inside. In Sport or Sport+ mode, the borrowed AMG parts really come alive and present a driving experience that feels more supercar than SUV. The suspension, brakes and general chassis setup is confidence inspiring. You can chuck this thing around a corner and have an utterly enjoyable experience.

Now for some downsides. The first is that the drive isn’t quite as visceral as a supercar’s might be. Maybe it’s down to the fact that Aston Martin leans more towards grand tourers in their lineup. At the same time, it would a stretch to describe the DBX as a very comfortable vehicle. I mean, it’s comfortable by supercar standards, but extremely stiff for an SUV. I wouldn’t want to be chauffeured around in this even its most comfortable drive setting. It just doesn’t relax and absorb bumps quite as much as something this big should.

Aston Martin use some really great materials in the DBX. From some of the best leather we’ve ever felt to an Alcantara roof. There’s even a unique scent in the cabin that accentuates that handcrafted quality of the vehicle. However, ‘handcrafted’ can cut both ways sometimes and in the DBX it kind of does. On the one hand, the stitching is impeccable and there are pleats and creases in the door cards that only human hands can achieve. On the other hand, there are some pieces of hardware that doesn’t exude that extreme level of polish seen in some the competing cars. Actuate the rear seats to fold down and they still need to be manually pushed flat, where many automakers will robotise the entire mechanism. Pop the hood and it still sports a simple and very exposed cable-style release.

Maybe some of these things are a matter of taste. Like I said, the DBX has that old world quality to it. Subjectively, it’s very cool that a car like this exists today and has an audience. But the reality is that it will probably be as popular as an Urus or Bentayga because it doesn’t quite have that polished edge to it. But until the Ferrari SUV debuts, the Aston Martin DBX is probably going to be the best looking and most soulful car in its class.

And it’s not like value is left out at all at this price point. If you’re buying a DBX tax free, you can do the standard Malaysian supercar thing by storing it in Langkawi. But unlike supercars, you don’t have to set aside 70% of the car’s value as a bank guarantee when the car is back on the peninsular. The Aston Martin DBX has a base price of RM818,000 before taxes and without options, but as specced as ‘The One Edition‘, it’s RM1.1 million. Check out Daniel’s review for more.

Aston Martin DBX Specifications

Engine: V8 twin-turbo petrol
Transmission: 9-speed Automatic.
Displacement: 3982cc
Power: 550hp @ 6500rpm
Torque: 700Nm @ 2200-5000rpm
0-100km/h: 4.5 seconds
Top Speed: 291km/h
Selling Price: RM818,000 EXCLUDING options, before taxes and delivery

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Written work on @subhashtag on instagram. Autophiles Malaysia on Youtube.

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