The design of the new Aston Martin DBX has been signed off, and it will enter the SUV market in late 2019. The company hopes that this will help the iconic carmaker prosper after declaring bankruptcy several times in the history. Some of the largest rivals of the new Aston Martin DBX will be the Bentley Bentayga, Lamborghini Urus, Maserati Levante and top-trim Range Rovers and Porsche Cayennes.
According to the Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer, the new DBX will stand out “because it has not sacrificed any beauty to achieve its practicality or performance.” Palmer envisioned the SUV even before he became the CEO of the automaker in 2014. “When you are talking about running a company like Aston Martin, you talk through your ideas with the owners before you are hired,” said Palmer. “My message was simple: if Aston Martin wants to survive, it must do an SUV.”
“On my fourth day [as CEO], I got to spend some time with Marek [Reichmann, head of design] and I told him I wanted DBX. That was in October, and I told him I wanted a concept car ready to show in Geneva by the following March,” continued Palmer.
“He and his team responded magnificently. One of the many beauties of Aston compared to a large car company is that we can move quickly. If something is agreed, we can leave the room and start working on it immediately, without the need for multi-layer presentations. It’s invigorating, and I think we are starting to unlock the benefits of that now. I hope the Aston of today has a swagger — but never arrogance — that it hasn’t had for some time,” he said.
The DBX concept was presented two years ago in Geneva, and it came as a two-door, four-seat model which featured electric motors located inboard of the wheels and powered by lithium Sulphur cells. Furthermore, the concept was advanced in every sense of the word, and it came with F1-style kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) which was there to show that the new model would use the latest available powertrain technology. The concept was also practical despite using all this fancy stuff, with a lot of space inside the cabin and trunk.
Now, the design has been officially signed off, and the pre-production test mules are expected to hit the road in the upcoming months. According to Palmer, the production version will be similar to the concept shown in Geneva. He declared: “There are aspects of the car that have changed dramatically — perhaps none more so than the fact that it is now a four-door — and, on a comparison basis, you will be able to pick out many details that have been modified. But in terms of the pure lines and the fundamental core principles of the car, you’ll recognize them.”
On the other hand, Reichmann said that they would need a higher roofline than the one on the concept in order to give the production version extra space, which would make it even more practical. Aston Martin also released a sketch of the car’s final silhouette. The 2019 Aston Martin DBX is going to be based on the new riveted aluminum platform which is similar to the one that underpins the DB11. Rumor has it that the company would rely on its part-owner Mercedes-Benz for the chassis tech, but CEO denied this by saying that the British carmaker wants to use its own expertise. However, Mercedes will have some influence when it comes to the sub-systems and V8 engine. What is also interesting is that the new DBX is going to be the first Aston Martin that will have 4WD, but we are not sure whether every trim will come with that configuration.
Under its hood, the DBX will feature manufacturer’s 5.2-liter V12 engine from the DB11, but its output will not be 600 bhp and 516 lb-ft of torque. Furthermore, AMG will source the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 good for 503 bhp and 498 lb-ft of torque. The diesel engine will not be offered at all, confirmed Palmer. He also said that Aston Martin would develop the hybrid version of the DBX. However, there will be no plug-in hybrid technology because research supports the thesis that premium car buyers do not value the plug-in hybrid models luxurious enough.
It means that we might see Aston using the high-performance powertrain from Mercedes-AMG GT Concept which debuted at the Geneva Motor Show in 2016. The AMG’s hybrid unit uses the twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 with an electric motor for the combined output of 800 bhp. The concept accelerates from 0 to 62 mph in less than 3 seconds, but we cannot expect this performance level from the DBX, even if it incorporates this powertrain because it is heavier than the vehicle from the German company. Moreover, the battery is being charged as you drive the car, which is quite an innovative feature.
Aston Martin was developing the hybrid KERS-style system in cooperation with Red Bull Technologies for the Aston Martin Valkyrie hypercar. This is important because Palmer pointed out that Aston Martin could use the modified version of this powertrain instead of turning to Mercedes for help. Speaking of the ride and handling aim, Palmer praised the Porsche Macan: “It is probably dynamically the best car in the SUV category.”
The cabin of the 2019 Aston Martin DBX will come with a unique design, but the primary goal will be practicality. “There are certain issues you can’t compromise on that perhaps we haven’t given such credence to in the past — ingress and egress, for starters, and whether it is a car you sit on or sit in,” said Palmer. “DBX is a revolution for Aston Martin in so many ways, and that has meant that we have had to adapt our way of thinking in places.”
“We have one rule that never changes, which is that we don’t trade off beauty. But if you want the design to reflect its 4×4-ness and to deliver the sort of utility that customers expect from these cars, then you have find ways to achieve that. A 4×4 needs to be big, it needs to convey safety and security, and yet it also needs to be easy to get in and out of,” he explained.
Aston Martin created focus groups of existing customers to provide input. Interestingly enough, the company has had an issue with female buyers and out of the firm’s lifetime sales of 70,000 cars, only 3500 were sold to women. This just means that the company wants to improve in this area also and sell more cars to female drivers.
“Some very special customers have seen the car to help guide our thoughts and provide feedback,” said Palmer. “They are our jury and our anchor points to what we want the car to achieve. The female jury has been particularly fascinating. This is not an Aston Martin that is exclusive to any one type of buyer and these groups really help us get into and understand some mindsets that we have never focused on before.”
The new DBX is being produced at St Athan, in Wales. Aston Martin hopes that this site will become the firm’s center of excellence for electrification and cyber security. They will hire 750 new employees at the launch of the new model. St Athan will have a pivotal role in the growth of the carmaker because of the ambitious plans Aston Martin have. In the next five years, six new model lines are expected – the new Vantage (later in the year) the Vanquish (2018), the DBX (2019) a mid-engine supercar (2020), the Lagonda saloon (2023), and a Lagonda SUV (2023).
Let’s go step by step. What do you think of the new Aston Martin DBX?