File it under “No Big Surprise”: Aston Martin has confirmed that its first-ever SUV will retain the name of the original concept ute, DBX. That said, there have been plenty of significant changes since the prototype was initially revealed at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2015.
For one thing, the original, three-door show car now has a more conventional, five-door layout, albeit retaining a coupe-like roofline that, while not as exotic as the new Lamborghini Urus is certainly more sporty than the stolid Bentley Bentayga.
The pics here show what is described as a DBX prototype being put through its paces on a Welsh rally stage by Aston Chief Engineer Matt Becker. And, according to a statement by the British marque, “signifies the start of an extensive testing program, (o)ne that has begun in Wales, as a nod to Aston Martin’s new St. Athan production facility in the Vale of Glamorgan.”
Adding a new plant was critical to the expansion plan laid out by Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer, who expects the new DBX to become the brand’s best-selling product line. That would surprise few considering the way Porsche and Bentley have seen their SUVs roar up the sales charts.
(Aston Martin’s IPO stumbles. Click Here for the details about the move.)
The DBX was, in fact, one of the very first projects Palmer authorized when he arrived at Aston in autumn 2014. But the SUV is only one of seven primary product lines – along with an assortment of variants and special one-offs – that make up the carmaker’s “Second Century Plan.”
We’ve already seen three of those new core models make it into production, starting with the DB11 launched last year, and the more recently introduced DBS Superleggera.
Moving from traditional GT and sports car lines to an SUV required a unique and dedicated test program, according to Aston officials, one that demanded pushing the “dynamic envelope” in ways prior models hadn’t had to go through.
“The DBX is a very different kind of Aston Martin,” said Becker, noting the ute had already gone through lots of digital simulations, “which has enabled us to make excellent progress in advance of the first physical prototype cars being available. Still, it’s always a big day when you get to put the first actual miles on an early prototype … to get a feel for the car you’re working to create.”
(Click Here for details about Aston Martin rolling out a limited line of “Goldfinger” DB5s.)
Aston remains mum about DBX specifications. For one thing, it’s unclear whether it will use the automaker’s own, 5.2-liter V-12 or the 4.0-liter V-8 borrowed from the AMG arm of Mercedes-Benz. (The German marque’s parent, Daimler AG, owns a 5% stake in Aston.)
We do know, however, from past conversations with Palmer that there will eventually be an all-electric version of the DBX, underscored by the fact that the ute will be produced in the St. Athan plant, a facility the automaker is now referring to as its “Home of Electrification.” Also on tap to be built at the Welsh facility are two new Lagonda models. That reborn sub-brand will be all-electric, Palmer has ruled.
We’ve also learned that the DBX will ride atop a unique new platform that has been designed with electrification in mind. That would suggest the “architecture” will also show up underneath the planned Lagonda SUV.
“Seeing a DBX development prototype in action is a momentous chapter in the story of our first SUV, for it is the moment it really comes alive,” said CEO Palmer, who declared the first test drive “a bold new era in the company’s long history.”
He could, of course, have added the word, “troubled.” Aston has lost count of how many times it has gone bankrupt over a little more than a century, but it is now solidly in the black, a turnaround that allowed it to stage an IPO this autumn. The DBX is promised as the product line that will buoy the brand’s bottom line more than any other model.
(To see more about Aston’s future plans, Click Here.)
Look for the production version of the Aston Martin DBX to be unveiled during the last quarter of 2019, and roll into showrooms a few months later.