We took the Aston Martin DBX for a drive on the wild side

On the North York Moors, Gentleman’s Journal puts the British brand’s first SUV through its petrol-powered paces…

The Aston Martin DBX is wild — in every sense of the word. It’s an unexpected, untamed beast; charging out of left-field with a strained leash, husky roar and more horsepower thrumming away under its unbridled bonnet than the British brand’s sleek 2021 Vantage. 

But all of this attention-grabbing, teeth-baring behaviour is to be expected. Because the DBX is a bigger deal than almost any Aston that came before it. It’s literally bigger, too — over five whole metres long, and standing up on its haunches at almost 1.7 metres. This car knows how to walk the walk — and talk the torque for that matter; it’s got more pulling power than a DB11 (and those things can move).

And yet, despite its brawny, muscly looks — and all that brute, snarling power — the DBX still looks like an Aston Martin. Somehow, the car’s talented designers managed to transpose the brand’s signature style and golden ratio off racy coupés onto an entirely different class of car. And they did it in style.

The DBX, as a result, is less a wolf in sheep’s clothing — and more a wolf in a three-piece suit; tailored and trimmed in all the right places, and bolted together with the subtlety and softness of something you’d find on Savile Row. Last year, when we asked Aston Martin’s Chief Creative Officer, Marek Reichman, how he had approached the challenging project, he said: “I wanted it to look agile. I wanted you to be able to look at it, and think that you could comfortably drive it down country lanes at legal speeds.”

Which brings us to Yorkshire. In a bid to unleash the full, off-road potential of Aston’s SUV, we’ve decided to drive away from any discernible town or city centre — and up onto the hell-for-leather, full-of-heather highlands of the North York Moors. 

Because this is where the DBX belongs. As with every other luxury SUV — from the Lamborghini Urus to the Rolls-Royce Cullinan — we at Gentleman’s Journal are determined to see what Aston Martin’s rough, rugged attempt at an off-roader can actually do when taken off the tarmac. Can it tackle tracks and trails? Will it give in to gravel? And what if there is no route or road at all?

Thankfully, this is a car hardy enough to cope with anything and everything we throw at it. But that’s not because of the DBX’s size, or its fearsome force. Rather, the car’s computers are the things conquering the countryside. From Hill Start Assist and Traction Control to that nine-speed automatic gearbox, this animal of an Aston both looks and feels at home up here on the remote rural moors. 

It’s even got six ‘Adaptive Drive Modes’ to help us out of tight corners, steep slopes and different tricky terrains. Four of these, including Sport and Sport+ will be familiar to Aston aficionados. Two, however, are new. Terrain and Terrain+ prime the car for off-roading; adjusting the active differentials, adaptive air suspension and anti-roll system to ensure we stay upright, on-track and out of trouble.

Because we could really get in trouble. The DBX has such punchy acceleration and potent, confident speed at its disposal that the car constantly feels as though it’s egging us on. This is chiefly the doing of a 4.0-litre V8 Twin Turbo, fitted with such swaggering, cocksure and accomplished tech as ‘Water-to-Air Charge Cooling’ and a ‘Cylinder Deactivation System’. These meticulous mechanicals — though marvellous innovations — are devils on your shoulder; pushing you to push the car as far as it’ll go.

But the DBX’s safety features — whether you’re bumbling across moorland or hooning down the M1 — will always keep you on the right side of silliness. There’s forward collision warning, autonomous emergency breaking, blind spot warning and even lane assist.

Ironically, the only tech that’s proved troublesome for us so far is Aston’s satellite navigation system — which seems oddly outdated among the rest of the upgrades. It’s not even touchscreen. But that’s a minor quibble.

Inside, 14 distinct, thunderous speakers clap and crack from all sides — another touch of the wild, this time inside the cabin. The full-grain leather trim, too, is a hot-blooded nod to classic carmaking. Because, while Aston are looking to turn electric in the near future — and rely on sustainable materials such as Alcantara (the headlining here is made from the leather-like fabric) — the DBX feels slightly more visceral and exciting than other luxury SUVs we’ve driven. There’s an adventurous spirit woven into these sporty seats that most Chelsea tractors fail to muster. 

That’s not to say the DBX skimps on the comfort. There are 64 different colours of ambient lighting to choose from in the cabin, along with three-zone climate control and seats that can both heat and cool your derrière on-demand. There’s even an option to customise the level of quilting, broguing and perforation on the upholstery. 

So, while it may have a proclivity for the practical, there are enough upscale touches and details to ensure that the intrepid DBX still lives up to its opulent Aston name. 

But this balance is what ensures the DBX’s success. There was understandable scepticism when Aston Martin announced its first SUV at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show. But, by taking the necessary time to develop it, the brand has delivered on all fronts — from the sporty to the swanky to the savage and animalistic.

And that last one’s the most important. Because, from the DBX’s prowling silhouette to those blood-red brake callipers — squinting out from behind the alloys like creatures in the night — Aston Martin’s SUV is most alluring when it lets its wild side loose. 

Still not convinced? See which luxury SUV is right for you here…

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