Aston Martin DBX707 rides high over its performance rivals
Power, scale, opulence and drama – road-testing the Aston Martin DBX707, the brand’s new high-performance luxury SUV
The new Aston Martin DBX707 can be seen as the last gasp of pure, unfettered combustion, a car that celebrates power, scale, opulence, speed, and drama in their basest forms, with no concession to the change sweeping through the auto industry.
But is it a good car? The best tool for the job is usually the one you have to hand, and so it proves on the empty, off-season tracks, roads, and highways of Sardinia, location for the DBX707’s global reveal.
The DBX707 is an uprated, boosted, and emboldened, version of Aston Martin’s first SUV, the V8-powered DBX that was launched back in 2020. The DBX made a pretty decent fist of translating Aston’s fabled design elegance into the upright, beefy SUV package, delivering the brand’s first true five-seater in the process.
The 707 – so named for the prodigious number of PS (‘Pferdestärke’, a measure of power roughly equivalent to old school horsepower) it pumps out – is not simply more of the same. In addition to the power boost, there are visual tweaks, including a bigger grille, larger spoilers, new colours, and new interior trim elements and controls.
The main reason the 707 exists is bragging rights. If you’re in the market for a luxury high-performance SUV, chances are that you will want the fastest and most powerful.
Lamborghini’s gauche Urus set the benchmark, but the 707 was able to pip it to the post, with a 0-62mph time of 3.3 seconds and a top speed of 193mph. The Urus, if you’re curious, is a whole 0.3 seconds and 3mph slower respectively.
These fractional gains look best on paper. In the real world, what matters most is the cut of the seat leather, the curve of a wing, or the tactility of the switchgear. The DBX project was initiated to lure new conquests to the British brand and help shore up sales so as to provide a solid economic base for the more ostentatious – and far less profitable – sports cars that made the 109-year old company’s name. It’s the same playbook that saved Porsche back at the turn of the century. Lotus is taking a similar path, albeit an electrified one, with its British-designed, Chinese-built Eletre SUVs. Even Ferrari is venturing into this sector later in the year, with the long-awaited Purosangue.
Put-out purists lost the argument that sports car makers shouldn’t meddle with SUVs quite some time ago; the real challenge is to make those SUVs look good. The DBX is probably the best of the current bunch, losing none of its essential ‘Aston Martin’ qualities, despite being a substantially larger chunk of metal.
Astons tend to get used on a day-to-day basis, and the DBX’s practical nature makes this the easiest machine to live with out of a range that includes the sinuously dramatic DBS and the wind tunnel-honed intricacy of the Valkyrie hypercar. The latter is essentially an F1 car for the road, with all of the packaging compromises you might expect, while the former excels at long-distance cruising.
For the time being, SUVs – even traditional fossil-fuelled ones – still rule the roost in certain territories, and the 707 is a perfect match for light suburban environs, whether it’s Shanghai or southern California.
That’s the commonest use case, but as ever with modern motor cars, the DBX707’s capabilities far outrun its typical use cases. An Aston Martin might not be as adept at fording rivers as a Range Rover, but it’ll certainly wade puddles that would put off a conventional sports car. And whilst the full-on, all-out ‘Sport+’ mode is barely suited for the public road, the DBX’s standard levels of refinement and comfort far exceed what you’d experience in a two-seater.
One possible snag – be it personal or political – is the DBX707’s prodigious ability to suck up fossil fuels and pump out CO2 (all within regulatory boundaries, of course). If your personal creed demands that green trumps mean, then waiting for 2023’s rumoured plug-in hybrid DBX is a more suitable choice.
Sardinia was an excellent proving ground, not least because Aston Martin booked out the wild Cala di Volpe hotel built by the Aga Khan in the 1960s, subsequently frequented by Roger Moore and his trouser suit in 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me. Moore’s Bond car of choice was a Lotus, not an Aston, but the ‘stunt driver’ who hurled the dart-like white Esprit around Sardinia’s twisty hillsides for the film was one Roger Becker, actually Lotus’s engineering director.
In a cinematic twist, Becker’s son Matt was the Aston engineer who fettled the DBX project from the outset (although he has since left the company).
An empty dual carriageway stretching out to the horizon, with no wind, no rain, and perfect visibility, offered a rare chance to explore the higher reaches of the 707’s capabilities. Suffice to say, that distant horizon was reeled in with impressive rapidity, just as the far-off specks resolved into traffic moving at a more conventional speed. Bragging rights are a fundamental, if flawed, part of the luxury car-buying process. Yet when victory is measured in mere tenths of a second, more important things like comfort, quality and appearance have to be taken into consideration.
Happily for other road users, the DBX707 can win most of these battles without having to move an inch. §