The Aston Martin Valkyrie is an out-of-this-world hypercar. It’s a sublime distillation of the storied marque’s heritage into an ethereal looking capsule that’s raring to race into the future at warp speed. Equally otherworldly is the smaller Valhalla, another limited edition hypercar that fans of the Gaydon carmaker have their eyes peeled for. However, remarkable as these two visceral machines are, the British brand has been hitting roadblocks, one after the other, in the path to getting them on the road.
This isn’t a predicament without precedent. Porsche has been there long back; so has Jaguar, BMW, Maserati, Lamborghini and many others. The sheer amount of money that’s required for research and development before a supercar or a sportscar is put into production is mindboggling, and the only way these companies could raise such resources is by building and selling less glamorous money-spinners. While all of the above mentioned performance brands have cashed in on the SUV segment, Aston Martin remained a reluctant straggler for many years. But when it actually did come out with an SUV, it forced the motoring world to sit up and take notice.
The DBX, Aston Martin’s first ever SUV in its century-long existence, is an absolute stunner. Despite the significantly inflated girth, it manages to look as striking as any other model from the stable. With the legacy DB grille and the seductively flowing lines, the heritage and the DNA are written all over the DBX. Whether you look at it head on, in profile or from the back, this is one handsomely proportioned SUV.
Step inside, and you’ll realise the quality of materials and workmanship are ages better in comparison to the interior quality of Aston Martins of yore. The seats are remarkably comfortable, and getting into a comfortable driving position behind the steering is a breeze. While most of the buttons and controls are ergonomically placed, one conspicuous exception is the placement of the D (Drive) button on the centre stack. Rather than keeping it closer to the driver, Aston Martin has chosen to position it closer to the front passenger, making it a potential stretch for anyone with a below average arm length. Another quirk is the bonnet release button, which is placed on the passenger side! I suspect these two oddities are a result of Aston Martin trying to cut some corners while converting the original right hand drive layout to left hand drive for other markets.
The 12.1-inch digital display behind the steering wheel is easy to read at a glance, even while driving, and the 10-inch multimedia touchscreen offers an intuitive interactive interface. Aston Martin has not skimped on practicality and comfort at the back either with enough room for two adults. The raised transmission tunnel and a rounded centre portion of the rear seat make the DBX a four-seater effectively. However, for the two occupants of the rear quarters, there’s plenty of leg- and headroom with the sense of airiness enhanced by the panoramic sunroof.
While the interior appointments and luxury trimmings could lull you into a sense of being in a tame family car, all you need to wake up into reality is press the engine start button. The 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 sourced from Mercedes-Benz AMG comes to life with a mighty roar, before settling down to an assertive growl on idle. It’s the same block that powers the DB11 and the Vantage, but in the DBX, it spews 550 horsepower and 700Nm of torque to hurtle the SUV from 0-100kph in just 4.5 seconds.
Acceleration is immediate and the V8 pulls hard abruptly past the 3,000 rpm mark, throwing the floodgates of adrenaline wide open with the intoxicatingly full-throated exhaust note adding to the heady mix. Unless you keep an eye on the speedometer regularly, it’s quite easy to rack up speeding fines in the thousands on highways. This is an SUV that needs to be enjoyed around a race track. It corners flat on fast bends, as planted and composed as a tarmac-hugging sportscar. The DBX handles with a verve that belies its heft, with the car shrinking around you as its telepathic steering lets you carve corners with ease.
Aston Martin might have come to the SUV party quite late. However, what they have brought with them is a fabulous showstopper. Quite possibly, the best high end performance SUV in the world.