Daniel Craig's forthcoming swan-song as 007 in No Time To Die sees James Bond having retired from Her Majesty's Secret Service. If Bond did indeed swap spyland for suburbia, there's a fair chance his new ride would be the Aston Martin DBX.
This four-door, family-friendly luxury SUV is every bit an Aston – the name itself harks back to the DB series made famous with the DB5, but with an X-factor added to the recipe.
The DBX will make its official debut in December 2019 and sidles up against a growing legion of performance-minded SUV.
Porsche was the first to prove drivers could enjoy a side-order of emotion as they tuck into the daily commute or the weekly trip to the supermarket. The original Cayenne worked wonders for the German sports car brand – it's no exaggeration to say the popularity of the Cayenne has saved the 911 and provided the cash to create the compact Cayman and even float the all-electric Taycan that comes down under next year.
Lamborghini has already tapped a similar sentiment with its Urus, using a stealth-fighter style statement instead of go-faster credentials, and Ferrari is sure to lift the bar when it introduces its Purosange in 2021.
Now Aston is nearly ready to fire with the DBX, which picks up many of the strengths of its DB11 and Vantage super coupes. That means lightweight aluminium bodywork and carbon-fibre bits and pieces, giant brakes and monster alloy wheels with high-grip Pirelli tyres.
It plans to talk to a different group of SUV shoppers by emphasising everything about the car’s performance, although plenty of details remain scarce.
For one, it's not yet known if the DBX has the all-wheel drive which gives many people - even Range Rover buyers who never stray from the ‘burbs - their permission to buy.
Testing has been undertaken in the usual remote locations, arctic icelands and dusty deserts, but Aston is now emphasising the high-speed prowess of its SUV at the home of the British Grand Prix, the Silverstone racetrack, as well as the classic Nurburgring course in Germany.
“We continue to hone the powertrain credentials and a dynamic set-up that will help make this the most exciting SUV on the market,” boasts Aston’s chief engineer, Matt Becker.
That powertrain is the 4-litre twin-turbo V8 already used in the DB11 and Vantage. But, more than that, it was originally created but Mercedes-AMG for use in the GT models from the three-pointed star before being on-sold into Britain.
According to Becker, the DBX can corner as quickly as the Vantage and out-brake the Aston’s DBS, eventually stitching things together with sub-eight minute laps at the Nurburgring. And it can also tackle muddy tracks and snow roads with confidence.
Becker also promises no day-to-day dramas with a car that “delivers both the everyday usability and refinement expected by SUV owners”. But the DBX is not just a go-faster car, despite the performance push.
“We set out to create the world’s most beautiful SUV,” Aston’s marketing chief, Simon Sproule, tells Executive Traveller. He also says the DBX has an unusual emphasis, in the high-performance world, on women.
“SUVs and crossovers have been changing the mass and premium market for many years. The luxury market is the last to feel the effects on this trend."
“Given that women make 80 per cent-plus of all vehicle purchase decisions it logically follows that their vehicle preferences will have a substantial impact on the market. When we created the DBX, we did not set out to create a ‘car for women’ but instead created a new Aston Martin with the characteristics of an SUV.”
Aston even went so far as creating an avatar, called Charlotte, to speak for women during development. If there was a question in any area, the Aston team asked themselves what Charlotte would want or need.
“We used Charlotte as a proxy for this segment but it did not lead us to create a car for women but rather a car that would fulfil the needs of customers like Charlotte,” says Sproule.
“Our primary objective was to create another beautiful looking Aston Martin that had the attributes needed to be successful in the luxury market, regardless of gender.”
If Aston Martin's research hits the mark, Charlotte and friends could be standing in line behind James Bond to collect the keys to a DBX when sales start in the first half of 2020.