Whenever a company known for its sports cars, or in this case supercars, builds a crossover, enthusiasts whine and moan as if the manufacturer has completely folded. In reality, building these practical commuters allows them to generate more revenue, in turn dedicating more resources towards the cars that truly make us happy. In the case of Aston Martin, the automaker has had a hard go over the years, switching ownership multiple times. This is their latest entry, the 2021 Aston Martin DBX.
The DBX is every bit an Aston Martin as it is a crossover. Sure, it doesn’t have the svelte proportions of their iconic DB-series grand tourers, but for a five-door family-friendly hauler, it looks quite good. The fascia is unmistakably Aston Martin, and the rear roofline slopes down to a taillight design that’s reminiscent of the current Vantage. The proportions are quite good, though the smaller rear door openings might make car seat installation difficult. I wasn’t convinced the first time I saw images of the DBX online, but after spending some time with it in person, it really is a handsome thing.
Open the doors and step into the cabin, and the DBX begins to seriously impress. Our test vehicle was equipped with Aurora Blue leather, with contrast headlining in Contemporary Alcantara. Every single bit inside this DBX feels expensive, luxurious, and opulent. The gorgeous leather has intricate stitching throughout, and the patterns are unequivocally pretty. The headliner is a very similar shade of beige as in my own V8 Vantage, and the Alcantara is extremely soft.
The blue may not be for everyone, but it really does need to be seen in person to be truly appreciated. The seats are superbly comfortable, with heating and ventilation. Rear occupants will find plenty of space, and my six-foot self was able to sit behind my own driving position with ample room to stretch out. Touches like the all-Alcantara grab handles along the headliner only add to the “super-SUV” feel of the DBX, and even the buttons for gear selection are of high quality. The engine start button is located in the center of the dash, and has remained an Aston Martin signature bit for the better part of two decades.
Thanks to Mercedes’ influence on every recent Aston Martin, the technology inside the DBX is also familiar. The infotainment is a 10-inch touchscreen powered by the previous generation of Mercedes-Benz’s COMAND interface. It now offers Apple CarPlay, though no Android Auto is available. Safety tech includes Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Warning, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Keep Assist, and of course, stability control and a plethora of airbags should you find yourself in a questionable situation.
The heart of the beast is the familiar 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 from Mercedes-AMG, an engine we have sampled in many variations before. Output here is 542 horsepower and 516 lb-ft. of torque, through a nine-speed automatic. It’s obviously seriously quick, with an ability to hit 100km/h in 4.5 seconds. This thing can hustle, with minimal turbocharger lag and a responsive gearbox.
But the beauty of this beast isn’t in its straight line performance; it’s how the DBX carries itself along the highway that is impressive. Short of the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, this just might be the quietest, most composed freeway cruiser on the road today. In the “GT” drive mode, optimal for grand touring, it holds high speed with grace, and the cabin remains whisper-quiet. Stomp on the accelerator and the boosted V8 will remind you of its existence, but that’s about it. When hitting the twisties, the drive mode selector can be popped into “Sport” or “Sport Plus”, tuning the steering, engine response, adaptive damping and performance exhaust into a more athletic setting.
Fuel efficiency shouldn’t exactly be the focus of the average DBX buyer, but it still adds up. Rated at 17.0L/100km in the city and 13.0L/100km on the highway, the suggested average consumption is 15.0L/100km. We observed a “frugal” 13.3L/100km over the course of our test. 91-octane premium fuel is accepted, but to get the most out of this machine, 93 or 94-octane is preferred. Most Esso and Petro Canada stations offer the latter, so it won’t be too difficult to find.
Aston Martin prices the DBX at $203,500 to start, but as with any bespoke vehicle, base models simply don’t exist. Our tester was equipped with a series of options to the tune of $240,600, and includes a $7,300 paint charge for the White Stone colour. Aside from personalization, recommended options include the heated sports steering wheel for $800, sports exhaust for $2,800, and the leather binding floor mats for $1,300. That said, those that do want to indulge and are fans of modern design would like the Figured Olive Ash veneer inside our DBX, for an additional $1,900.
Those that want to venture off road with the DBX will be grateful for the height-adjustable air suspension, but let’s be realistic – nobody will be trying to tackle the Kalahari with an Aston Martin. What will benefit a few buyers is the DBX’s ability to tow up to 5,940 pounds, which is enough for a small boat, weekend trailer, or even a small race car to the track. With regards to actual cargo in the rear, it can hold 623 liters of your stuff. Fold down the rear seats and the DBX can swallow 1,529 liters worth of hockey bags, snowboards or just plain suitcases.
As far as competition is concerned, the Aston Martin DBX has plenty. It’s less ostentatious than the Lamborghini Urus and the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, but also much less expensive. The Bentley Bentayga is more obnoxious looking, though a bit roomier. If you don’t need the extra space, the DBX is more special than the BMW Alpina XB7 and the Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600. It’s a smidge smaller but more than makes up for it with brand panache and overall quality.
Perhaps the sheer existence of the 2021 Aston Martin DBX is considered blasphemy for some. It really is the fault of the consumer, for building so much demand for crossovers that it’s what manufacturers have opted to put their focus on. But the reality is, this DBX is simply marvelous to drive and spend time in. It allows Aston Martin owners to make their daily commute as much of an “event” as taking out that DBS or Vantage on the weekend. It allows the entire family to experience something that previously could only be enjoyed in certain environments, especially here in Canada.