First Drive: 2020 Aston Martin DBX Prototype Not

Aston Martin DBX 2020 prototype drive - hero front The new big Aston isn't trying to be the biggest, fastest SUV on the block, and could be more attractive and successful for it.

It has been a challenging fifteen months for Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings plc since the company adopted its second century's public expansion business plan on the London Stock Exchange.

I imagine a stock market analyst would probably choose a different word than "struggle" to describe it, essentially; one precedes, perhaps even more colorfully, a term of office beginning with the letter 'B' or 'F'.

Admittedly, Aston's stock is still the truth will surface at all. They've been taking on the water confidently since an ambitious debut at a £19-share in October 2018, and rallied briefly over Christmas but sat at a low £3.86-a-X as the words were written. Really painful things. Although changes in ownership are rumored to be near, the placement of the experiment should weigh on the company's balance sheet as a 20-stone lifeline rests not so lightly around the neck.

Conveniently, a car that could be in the company of a Savior is almost ready to go into battle - and how urgently needed. DBX extensions are the new big 542-B. Aston. A four door, five meter, XNUMXbhp super-SUV for a controversial look, it can't be greeted by critics and commentators across the board, though by my reckoning it probably should be. And a few at Gaydon will care anyway if it reproduces even a fraction of the commercial success of the Lamborghini Urus and the Bentley Bentayga or maybe the Porsche Cayenne, and will be a stabilizing and transformative influence that Andy Palmer and his team are quietly but strictly dependent on.

The DBX is not a car that looks so fundamentally similar to those polarizing fast and expensive 4x4s in metal, really. Aston invited us to their new factory in St Athan, South Wales, for the first drive, which came out courtesy of an intermediate prototype production stage in a low profile with dark color and very light camouflage. The look of it quickly confirmed that this car could very well change the mindset of how over the top and undesirable big, powerful, exotically positioned SUVs must be.

It's just over five meters, so it's bigger than a Porsche Cayenne or a Range Rover Sport, but shorter than a Bentayga or a Urus. But we've long been working on a wheelbase and lower roofline than many of its SUV rivals; it doesn't look like its size is too dashing and tapering, with a relatively low bonnet height. I'll take a chance putting it on record, in that it's much closer to compact and elegant than I ever thought such a car could get. It's also not overbearing or aggressively looking at everyone. While I appreciate that the record will open up to the ridicule of many people who have not laid eyes on the car at all, in my eyes the DBX does not look like a beautiful modern Aston - and given the required size and proportions, that it is something.

Beneath the aluminum and composite body panels it is built around an all new "platform" chassis, the cost of which (combined with WHAT the establishment of the factory building it is) has made the vehicle an extraordinarily significant investment. It's carried over from Aston's wide range, not powered by a 4,0-liter turbo V8 sourced from Mercedes-AMG, but not quite the same one you'll find in Vantage Point and the DB11. It's actually the same motor that appears in the Mercedes-AMG E63's super saloon, and it comes complete with the same "active" all-wheel drive and rear differential torque vectoring system as the car uses.

Where its powertrain makeup differs from the hot E-Class is designed for the gearbox; where Merck uses a seven-speed multi-clutch gearbox for quick shifts and more outspoken torque capacity (and other modern businesses use ZF's eight-speed automatic, of course), the DBX uses Mercedes' nine-speed torque converter automatic 'box for seamless shifting - and most importantly so, that Aston could engineer—in nearly three tons of tractive effort and low speed torque multiplication—that he knew several letters to the owners. The nine-speed transmission also meant that Aston had to limit engine torque to a maximum of 516lb ft, but with the updated gearbox a lot of torque is apparently in production, and given that we already know how much more torque that engine can produce, there may well be more grunt to come in the not too distant future.

Suspension is via four-bay air suspension, which is adjustable for spring rate and ride height, with Bilstein adaptive dampers and 48-volt roll-canceling active anti-roll bars. Two of these three technologies have never been adopted by Aston Martin before, but they are fairly standard among cars that DBXs should not compete with - and so Aston Martin development guru Matt Becker and his team decided from the start that they would have the car. The ride height can be adjusted through almost 100mm of travel in total.

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What DBXs don't have, interestingly, is four wheels - and no coincidence, as Becker explained from the passenger seat during our test drive. “We 'protected' the car's four wheels so we can use it later if we feel it's necessary,” says Becker, “and I appreciate what it can do for such a car at low speed agility and sheer lateral grip. . But to be honest, I just don't like that it can affect handling and cornering behavior. Too often I find myself 'steering' cars that 4WS a few times on their way around a corner because they can be more agile and a bit unpredictable at all. And we really wanted DBX to feel natural, intuitive; easy to place."

It's not a stretch to get into the DBX, and the car won't often need to duck to get in either. You sit more recumbently than in most SUVs, and feel more enclosed due to the high windowline, thin Greenhouse and rather "quick" windshield angle - but also because the door-film panels are tight enough around your elbow outwards.

A rich, enveloping cabin with a more intimate feel than you'd expect then, but it's also usefully roomy. There's plenty of room for big adults in the back, while Aston claims 632 liters of boot space. It certainly has a very good size cargo area, and it looks like it should swallow bulky items such as pushchairs, golf bags and doghouses with space to spare. There will be more practical SUVs I dare say, but the DBX shouldn't do very well for people who have been waiting for a really useful, comfortable and versatile four-seater from Aston Martin.

Despite only a mid-high hip point and a dashing screen, the car offers good forward visibility thanks to the lowish frustrate – and because you can see the front corners of the body just above the front wheels, it's very easy to judge the car by its size on the road and not feel any more than he needs.

When you use the car in the most relaxed and comfortable 'GT' driving mode, you would describe the ride and handling in similar conditions to those of the last four-door GT that Aston has made, likeable with the Rapid. It's a very comfortable car, fairly well insulated each too, even on 22 inch rims. In contrast to the experience here Rapide, of course, that it all takes place at the foot of a high altitude from the road surface.

There's no doubt that despite its larger volume and raised body profile, the emails get tighter, faster and more agile than the Rapide had when you put him in 'sport' and 'sport+' modes as he squats down over its wheels, gathers its controlling authority and responsiveness and takes on many compelling sporting goals. This is perhaps the most significant dynamic compliment that I can pay the car, and the team for it; that it develops and improves the potential of the four-door Aston to immediately perform, engage, work and simply comfortably and pleasantly transport, apparently, opposite dimensions simultaneously.

The performance is very serious, really nice and supple throughout the rev range, but not brutal and wild like you'll find in the Urus in full voice - just like writing for 4-5 sec 0-62 mph would recommend. Aston wanted a car in its class to handle balance and steering, as Becker explained, and he was pleased for it to be one of the best for acceleration and isolation driving and, overall, that's what it's like. Although the ride is soft and loose in 'Sport+' mode and throughout, the nastiest surfaces, sharper, lumpy and bumpy pavement make the sound in the cabin a bit.

The steering, however, has a natural-feeling, perfectly weighted and linear in its pace at all times; and handling un-predictable and understandable, and safe, balanced and balanced, making the DBX not surprisingly complex, controlled and agile in such a big, tall car. It's even more fun on loose off-road surfaces (see sidebar), and some of the rally-cross-style gravel cornering at the Walters Arena is very vividly demonstrated.

All in all, the Aston Martin DBX doesn't quite make first impressions then: one of a car that's smaller and more visually appealing, sweeter to ride and a little more temperate than you'd expect. One of the super-SUVs, and whisper this one, that has been carefully considered in design and positioning, and tuned with just a little desire for a reasonable compromise. And which one was found, what is it.

Off-Road: How does the Internet DBX work with gravel, mud, rocks and deep water?

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Walters Arena, near Merthyr Tidefil, got a chance to see how the DBX can't handle wet gravel, mud and rocks, and deep puddles. The same as few owners of nearly £200,000 cars ever will probably find out with their own purchases, she handles everything very well indeed.

The car's air suspension and active anti-roll bars seem to be key in making the body up to level, as well as turning corners when you select the Sport+ ride mode. So Matt Becker explains how you approach a wide gravel bend in 3rd gear, then kick the car's nose into the top on the trailer gas and feel the rear axle complacently wide, as do its rear axle lateral stiffness peaks. The car's mid-angle handling adjustability is better off the throttle than on it; The transmission makes it easy to maintain a neutral attitude, but will often pull the car with more power than allow you a larger slip angle. Still, it's great fun to slide in.

At much slower speeds, some wading is possible (maximum depth is 500mm), while the DBX won't crawl over smaller rocks easily enough, although its off-road modes may provide a more progressive gas pedal map.

On 22-inch rims and all-season tires (winter tires and performance tires will also be available) there was decent enough traction in the dirt on fairly steep climbs and decents, with the standard fit electronic descent control helping out on the latter. Outright off-road capability is clearly not what the DBX is About – and more clearly, it shouldn't be. What the hosts are likely to ask him, however, seems quite ready to handle.

Matt Saunders

…and how is it to deal with the desert? Mike Duff

So after Wales in the rain, the less relevant is the question of how well the DBX is not dealing with the Omani wilderness. I need to fly out in December to test the same generation of prototypes with the one we drove in the UK, on ​​a route that included over 100km of gravel and mud.

On the pavement, the DBX's native back end's non-biased torque only becomes apparent when progressing faster, but on the loose it's always strongly noticeable. Even in the GT's default auto mode it's clear that most of the effort is directed to the rear axle, with an electronically controlled offset differential helping the car in turn overspeed the outer wheel. The result at longer, faster corners is a modest but noticeable yaw angle that the car achieves and seems to do on its own.

Of course, that's just where the bidding begins with more aggressive Sport and Sport Plus dynamic modes increasing the car's natural angle of attack, and increasing the stability control system's intervention threshold. But even with this completely turned off - at Becker's suggestion - the DBX extensions remained stable and adjustable across gravel-sweeping corners, although the suddenness with which the AMG V8 engine's torque peak in the flow required respect the throttle technique.

While it was all extremely fun, the DBX suspension was more impressive. The combination of speed and big bumps is one that several road cars can comfortably deal with, in terms of the heaving ride from the Aston Toyota Land Cruiser support ship as it followed. Another combination of letters from the generous suspension and thin air springs allowed it to handle uneven surfaces surprisingly well, with a rut that would get you tying for an effortless hit. The active 48 Volt anti-roll can still be felt to work on slippery surfaces, the extent to which it cancels lean is immediately evident when the prototype system failed, turning the Aston's impression cutter into a bulk carrier. Stop-and-start restart it works again.

Adjustable ground clearance is another of the tricks in air suspension. I haven't done any serious rock climbing, but being able to add up to 45mm of ground clearance plus adds confidence when maneuvering over sharp rocks.

Becker cheerfully admits that the DBX is better off-road than his team expected: “We aim for Allroad, we have Cayenne.” While few owners are likely to take it far from the pavement, there is undeniable comfort in knowing that it is capable of so much more.

Specification Aston Martin DBX not

Where Rhonda, Wales; and Oman price £158,000 for sale April 2020 of the year engine 3982cc, V8 engine, twin-turbo petrol Power 542bhp at 6500rpm torque 516lb ft at 2200-5000rpm Transmission 9-SPD automatic; 4WD drive Curb weight 2245kg maximum speed 181mph 0-62 mph 4.5 seconds fuel economy 19.7 mpg (combined WLTP) SO2 WLTP figures not available competitors Lamborghini Urus, Bentley Bentayga Can B8

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