Cinematic super-spy James Bond will finally be able to take the chase off-road and remain in an Aston Martin. Long associated with British luxury brand, 007 will get a new set of wheels in his upcoming adventure, the exclusive brand’s first sport-utility vehicle, the DBX.
Only a few years ago, the idea of an Aston SUV might have seemed ludicrous. The marque was known for sleek and exotic sports cars. But the world has changed and, if anything, the ultra-premium car market is now awash with utility vehicles, everything from the Lamborghini Urus to the Rolls-Royce Cullinan. Considering recent sales trends, Aston executives are confident that the DBX soon will become its best-selling model in their 106-year history.
“I can’t emphasize enough how incredibly exciting and significant DBX is for Aston Martin,” said Andy Palmer, who initiated the project shortly after joining Aston as CEO in autumn 2014. “This beautiful SUV has already taken the company into new territories and in inspiring directions. DBX also marks a key moment in the delivery of the third and final phase of our Second Century Plan, not only representing the promised expansion of our portfolio but also signaling the start of production at Aston Martin’s second manufacturing plant.”
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Palmer might have added that the DBX underpins the financial plan he laid out soon after being named CEO. And, right now, the British automaker needs all the help it can get. Formally known as Aston Martin Lagonda, the company in July cut its annual sales forecast from as many as 7,300 vehicles to just 6,500.
The stock tumbled hard as investors second-guessed Aston’s plan to transform itself from a struggling niche player that had lost money during almost its entire existence into a financially solid brand with more sustainable sales numbers.
Such concerns grew deeper when Aston announced in September that it had lined up another $150 million in debt to keep its product plans in motion.
“Aston Martin Lagonda’s debt raise feels a bit like kicking the can down the road but should de-stress liquidity,” said analysts at Jefferies, in a note to investors. “It also provides needed breathing room to execute the DBX launch.”
TheDetroitBureau.com got an early and extensive background briefing on the DBX several months ago and it is, at least in static form, an impressive vehicle that delivers on Aston’s promises – though we have yet to actually experience the new model on the road.
(Q&A: Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer)
Where many premium luxury brands have struggled trying to find the right formula for a brand-extending SUV, the Aston Martin DBX strikes just the right balance. From first glance, and despite the higher ground clearance and the addition of rear doors there’s no mistaking the SUV’s pedigree.
It features the largest-ever version of the familiar Aston Martin grille and carries over other familiar visual cues, including its long nose and muscular wheel wells. Chrome accent strips are meant to trick the eye, giving the DBX, in silhouette, a sharp sweep to the roofline. In fact, the back is taller than it first appears, providing plenty of headroom for backseat occupants, as well as 22.3 cubic feet of cargo space with the back seats upright.
The Aston Martin DBX rolls out of a new plant in St. Athan, Wales, purpose-built to handle the SUV. It was needed to handle the bonded aluminum construction of the DBX. Using the lightweight material helped the automaker hold the total mass of the sport-ute down below 5,000 pounds.
A 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8, modified for DBX, turns out 542 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque, enough to launch the Aston Martin DBX from 0 to 60 in 4.3 seconds, with a 181 mph top speed. Power goes through a new all-wheel-drive system with electronically controlled center and rear differentials.
To further enhance its driving manners, both on-road and off, the DBX gets an adaptive triple volume air suspension with triple-chamber air springs. There’s also a micro-hybrid 48-volt electronic anti-roll system.
Set to go on sale in North America during the second half of 2020, Aston has set a U.S. base price of $189,900 – before factoring in $3,086 in delivery fees. The automaker also plans to offer a launch edition, the “1913 Package,” which will feature, among other things, unique fender badges, sill plaques and a unique build-book signed by both CEO Palmer and Chief Creative Officer Marek Reichman. They’ll also be invited to one of a series of special “celebration cocktail parties.” Only 500 of these models will be built.
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If Aston hits target, the automaker is betting the new DBX will more than double its sales going forward and leave its recent problems in the rearview mirror.