For all the indignities James Bond suffers in the opening scene of The Spy Who Loved Me—a mustard yellow snowsuit, a disco version of his theme song, being shot at by Soviet assassins—at least he didn’t have to start his day on the slopes in cold boots. And neither will you, if you make your trip to the Alps in the DBX. Because, along with a suite of luxury goodies you can tack on to the $189,000 base price, Aston Martin’s first SUV offers a “Snow Pack” that includes not just a rooftop ski rack and tire chains, but a set of boot warmers. And you might even get a warm feeling in your heart, if you’re into seeing storied companies remake themselves for the 21st century.
Aston Martin’s history is one of wild ups and downs, and the last few years have been more boom than bust. The 106-year-old automaker raised just over $300 million in 2015, which it has used to develop a series of fresh models. Of those, none will mean as much to the company as the DBX, which debuted at the Los Angeles Auto Show Tuesday night. That’s because the SUV is poised to take Aston out of the tiny automaker niche it has long occupied, boost its sales, and perhaps its profits, just as the Cayenne and Macan SUVs have done for Porsche in recent years. Besides, all of Aston’s highfaluting friends are doing SUVs these days, including Lamborghini, Rolls-Royce, and Bentley.
Good thing for Aston, then, that the skills of its designers and engineers aren’t limited to making sports cars and grand tourers. The DBX, which will reach customers in the second half of 2020, stands five and a half feet tall, and it has a roof that slopes toward the trunk, minimizing the chunkiness common to luxury SUVs. It uses a four-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine (the same in the DB11 and Vantage) to produce 542 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. That will send it from 0 to 60 mph in a blistering 4.3 seconds and up to an utterly unnecessary top speed of 181 mph. It manages that power with a nine-speed automatic transmission: CEO Andy Palmer has pledged fealty to the manual for Aston sports cars, but not here.
Instead of roll bars, which connect the left and right wheels to limit body roll on tight corners, the DBX uses an electronic system. It limits the car’s swaying to the level you get in a DB11, but allows for the extra wheel travel that makes galumphing along a pitted road an acceptably comfy experience.
Inside, the DBX is about as luxurious as you’d expect, with leather, fine woods, and “satin chrome” everywhere you look. Fourteen speakers channel the 800-watt Harman/Samsung sound system, and the 10.25-inch center screen should satisfy buyers used to honking big phones and tablets.
For the really fun stuff, you’ll have to option up. If the Snow Pack doesn’t appeal, you can go for another of Aston’s “lifestyle accessory packs,” most tailored to assorted fancy hobbies. The $33,700 Event Pack includes a fold-down bench built into the rear bumper, a modular picnic hamper and, in a nod to England’s climatological suffering, umbrella storage. The $31,375 Field Sport pack lands you a built-in aluminum gun cabinet. If that’s too rich, the $1,825 Essentials Pack includes a center console organizer and tablet holders for the backseat kiddos. And because dogs are fancy, too, the $3,400 Pet Pack offers a partition to keep your canine from jumping up front, a bumper protector to keep their claws from damaging your paint job, and a battery-powered portable washer to keep Viscount Doggo clean.
The true test for the DBX, though, will unfold over the next year, as the sales push gets serious and Aston moves to expand and diversify its customer base. The SUV is the first truly different thing it has done in quite a few decades, and change always comes with the risk of failure. But at least we know the automaker won’t get cold feet.
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