Sardinia, Italy - We recently traveled to this beautiful part of Italy, and in the process we entered a different universe. An exclusive place where the rational has no place. The vehicles found in this place have high ambitions. With the DBX 707, Aston Martin CEO Tobias Moers was clear that the British brand’s aims is to grab the title of world's fastest SUV.
And of course, step one if you want to outpace the competition is to put in an even more powerful engine. Hence the 707 designation, which refers to the number of European horsepower available from the powertrain (which translates into 697 hp for us). This figure makes it the most powerful SUV on the market, ahead of the Lamborghini Urus and the Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT.
The only thing left to do now is to beat the Cayenne GT Turbo by doing the Nürburgring lap in less than 7 minutes 39 seconds to officially obtain the title of fastest SUV in the world.
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Same basic engine
Many people will ask why you would add more than $50,000 to an already hefty price tag to get an even more powerful vehicle? The answer is more complex than just horsepower. In his other life, Tobias Moers was the boss of AMG. He knows a lot about the Mercedes-AMG engine that now makes its home under the hood of the DBX. He even brought with him to Aston several AMG engineers who worked to improve this engine.
The base hasn't changed - it's still a 4.0L V8. There are many new tunings, however, and the system includes new ball-bearing turbos with a heavily revised induction system. The front suspension has been stiffened to improve steering response, and the rear shocks have been softened to improve traction without compromising comfort. Aston also reworked the new 9-speed wet-clutch automatic transmission.
As a result, power is so high and acceleration so quick that it's virtually impossible to shift manually with the paddles. You have to put the whole thing in automatic mode if you want to things to run properly, and don't forget to hold onto the steering wheel. The Launch Control feature in Sport+ mode will get you from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.3 seconds, and it's as breathtaking in person as it sounds on the page, trust us. After that, you'll be able to reach a top speed of 310 km/h, or 5 km/h better than a Lamborghini Urus. Another claim to fame...
Wild, loud and ridiculously fast
If you're a fan of discreet vehicles, this SUV is definitely not for you. As soon as you start the DBX, the engine roars like a lion that hasn't eaten in two weeks. Step on the gas, takeoff is immediate and beyond appeal. You've got huge (and somewhat noisy) carbon ceramic brakes to contain all that power with optional 23-inch tires (Pirelli P-Zero) wide enough to defy the laws of gravity.
Trying to reconcile the irreconcilable
I still can't understand engineers who try to turn elephants into ballerinas. An SUV is the antithesis of a sports car and no matter how hard you try, there are laws of physics that cannot be circumvented. Let's just mention the higher centre of gravity and a weight of 2,245 kg, with that weight distributed in a far from ideal fashion.
There’s a lot to do to compensate for those realities. For example, the steering needs to be lighter to provide some feel but not so much you reveal too much of the vehicle's weight. In this respect, Aston was quite successful, even if we found the steering a little too light. The steering wheel response is precise, but on the mountainous and winding roads of Sardinia, it was a constant challenge to convince the chassis to follow the engine. The heart was in it, but the weight and centre of gravity of the SUV required caution before attacking a pass.
However, the DBX's neutral behavior is to be commended, as it stayed flat once a curve was entered. The anti-roll system reacts very well.
There are several drive modes and as soon as the Sport mode is engaged, the DBX becomes quite permissive and even though the stability control system remains in place, it allows you to slide a few times when exiting a curve. Its largesse increases in Sport+ mode, and if you want to be a hero, it is possible to turn it off completely. Which we didn't even try because we couldn't keep up with the pace of the vehicle in Sport+ mode.
It's worth noting that despite all these changes made to turn the DBX into a racing beast, Aston managed to keep comfort levels high, that is when you drive the car at legal speeds. The new sport seats hug you tighter, but after a few miles, we were comfortable enough not to even notice them.
Some irritants in the cabin
Our main criticism “touches” on the dashboard screen, because it is in fast still not touch-sensitive. Aston Martin still uses the old Mercedes Command system. When asked about this, the folks on hand for this drive event told us that engineers are working on it and that the company is currently developing its own interface.
The Aston's exterior is up to the standards of previous noble British models. Some may think that for $271,000, they could do better, but the quality of construction and the selection of materials is irreproachable.
Vivacious, responsive and comfortable, the Aston Martin DBX 707 is the most authoritative performance SUV we've tested. It's becoming the new benchmark in the market and Aston Martin estimates that half of all DBXs (which already account for 40% of all sales) will be 707s. However, if you want a sports car, check out a DB11. No matter how good an SUV is, it will never become a sports car. Elephants and ballerinas are two different species.
A goosebump-inducing engine
A high level of handling
A permissive electronic system
We like less
An outdated infotainment system
Noisy carbon-ceramic brakes