- Available for less than £100,000
- 4.0-litre V8 petrol turbo, all-wheel drive
- DBX707 is justifiably more popular than the regular car
- Old-gen infotainment is disappointing
- Teething troubles on early cars seem to have been sorted
- Arguably the sportiest super-SUV
The choice of Beijing as the venue for the world unveil of the Aston Martin DBX in November 2019 told you a lot about the winds of change that had whistled through this once most traditional of British marques since the James Bond days. The biggest shock to the system for Aston traditionalists of course was the very notion of an Aston Martin SUV, let alone the reality of one, but by the late 2010s every serious car manufacturer – even niche ones – understood the commercial imperative behind family-friendly supercars. You only had to look at the company-saving performance of the Porsche Cayenne to realise that for Aston Martin, facing mounting losses, the DBX was a make-or-break model.
The company’s commitment to the DBX project was reflected in the construction of an all-new manufacturing facility on an ex-MOD site outside a village in south Wales. This ‘new beginnings’ mindset extended to the car’s design. An all-new chassis allowed AM’s chief creative officer Marek Reichmann to tailor the interior ergonomics for a broad range of human beings of any gender, and not just those in the front either.
Catering for family usage without losing Aston’s sporting feel was always going to be a challenge but they gave it a good go with roomy interior and a raft of packs that were designed to keep owners well away from the aftermarket. The Snow Pack included a ski bag, roof rack, snow chains and a boot warmer. The Touring Pack consisted of a leather four-piece luggage set (extendable to six pieces with two big suitcases, two small ones and two holdalls), cabin saddle bags that went over the armrests, lockable stowage under the front passenger seat and an emergency first aid kit. The Pet Pack partitioned off your hairy beasts and included a scratch-resistant bumper protector and a portable washer. The Event Pack had a modular picnic hamper, picnic blanket and ‘event seating’ plus extra umbrella storage.
There were other packs too, like the Essentials and Interior Protection ones that were aimed at school runners. You could even have leather-trimmed child and baby seats to give your little ‘uns an early taste of the high life. We heard that someone in AM’s design department suggested a carbon fibre box of chamois leather nappies, but that idea didn’t make the cut. Setting all that family stuff aside for a moment, the DBX was still an Aston Martin and therefore had to perform in a suitably forceful and evocative manner. Supplying the means to do that was the Mercedes-AMG 4.0 V8, a terrific engine delivering power and emotion in equal measure.
‘1913 edition’ cars commemorating the founding of the company were allocated to the first 500 retail customers to place an order when the DBX books opened in mid-November 2019. The basic spec was unchanged on these cars but you did get 1913 sill plaques, a signed vehicle inspection plate in the engine bay, a build book signed by Marek Reichmann, ’1/500’ logos on the wings and an invite to a swanky cocktail party at the Waldorf Hotel in London – not something that added much in the way of value to buyers of used 1913s, but a nice touch all the same.
The DBX’s recommended retail price at launch was £158,000 in the UK, with the first customer cars coming off the St Athan line in July 2020. By that point ‘Q by Aston Martin’ customisation options were already in place for the SUV. ‘Collection’ was one of the more accessible packages displayed by AM at the 2020 Geneva show. It had satin grey paint, carbon fibre lower exterior trim pieces, black anodised tread and sill plates. Their ‘Commission’ car featured 22-inch gloss black wheels, diamond-pattern satin chrome ‘jewellery pack’ trim pieces machined from solid aluminium, carbon door inserts and storage floor coverings, and a carved-from-solid carbon fibre central console section that took 90 hours of milling to create. Basically, you could have anything you wanted through the Q programme, within reason.
The DBX707 model revealed in early 2022 moved DBX performance appreciably up the scale. Early rumours suggested that the 707 (its power in PS) might have a V12 engine but in the end it stuck with the 4.0 V8, albeit with a lot more grunt. We’ll get into the non-mechanical mods later, but the key differences under the bonnet were quicker-spooling ball-bearing turbos and an ECU remap along with a new exhaust system. The 707hp at 6,000rpm and 664lb ft of torque at 2,750-4,500rpm it produced made the 707 the world’s most powerful ‘ultra-luxury’ SUV and the fastest pre-Purosangue SUV with a 0-62mph time of 3.3 seconds and a 193mph top speed. Unsurprisingly it was also the most expensive DBX at £190,000, which was actually a bit less than the £200k many were expecting it to cost. It was £17,000 less than the 666hp/627lb ft 2.1-tonne Urus Performante that also came out in 2022, and ‘only’ £18,000 more than the standard DBX whose price had risen to £172,000 by that point.
The DBX has been a big success for Aston Martin. Despite Covid and global supply shortages, they managed to shift more than 3,000 standard cars in 2021. The 2022-on DBX707 has been even more popular, accounting for seven out of every ten DBXs sold. Of all the Astons for sale on PH classifieds, only the same-engined DB11 was beating the DBX in terms of popularity.
The high number of cars built means a wide secondhand choice, which in turn means interesting prices for used buyers – especially when you realise that most cars were well optioned from new, often taking them nearer to the £200k mark than the 2020 base price of £158k. Now you’ll easily be able to get a 40,000-miler in excellent condition for under £100k.
Are they worth that money though? The press did give the DBX excellent reviews but Astons haven’t always enjoyed the best reputation for durability or for dodging big bills. This was AM’s first-ever all-wheel drive car and its first-ever off-road capable car, adding to the list of things that could go wrong. Did they, though? Even at half its new price, could your £100k DBX investment turn into a murky black hole? Let’s put our night vision goggles on and peer in.
SPECIFICATION | ASTON MARTIN DBX (2020-on)
Engine: 3,982cc twin-turbocharged V8 32v petrol
Transmission: 9-speed auto, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 550@6,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 516@2,200-5,000rpm
0-62mph (secs): 4.5
Top speed (mph): 181
Weight (kg): 2,245
MPG (official combined): 19.7
CO2 (g/km): 269
Wheels (in): 10 x 22 (f), 11.5 x 22 (r)
Tyres: 285/40 (f), 325/35 (r)
On sale: 2019 - now
Price new: £158,000
Price now: from £99,000
Note for reference: car weight and power data are hard to pin down with absolute certainty. For consistency, we use the same source for all our guides. We hope the data we use is right more often than it’s wrong. Our advice is to treat it as relative rather than definitive.
ENGINE & GEARBOX
The Mercedes M177 4.0 twin-turbo V8 engine is fast becoming a sort of go-to powerplant, the motor-y version of Brembo brakes or ZF transmissions. It’s rorty or refined according to your whim. Few would consider it slow in the DBX. Exhaust valves opened in the Sport mode to add a fruity rumble to the normally restrained note.
The standard DBX’s nine-speed transmission was a torque converter unit but the DBX707 featured a wet-clutch Speedshift transmission like the one used in the AMG GT 4-door. Besides offering 30 per cent faster gearchanges and additional robustness the new trans gave the 707 launch control capability. Also new to the 707 were a bigger radiator, a carbon fibre propshaft and a mean-sounding quad-tailpipe exhaust.
The Urus comfortably beat the normal DBX on acceleration times, covering off the 0-62mph run in 3.6 seconds versus the Aston’s 4.5 seconds, but the 3.3-second DBX707 put the Lamborghini in its place. In independent testing, the DBX hit 60mph in 3.3 seconds, not 62mph, an inconsequential ‘failure’ really, but it is worth noting that Porsche’s Cayenne Turbo GT beat both of these cars on the lower-number acceleration runs. The 707 reeled the Porsche back in as speeds increased, however. The 707’s launch control worked well, tugging the rear end down hard into the deck and bringing a grin to even the coolest McQueen face.
A DBX will not be cheap to run. It sits in the highest insurance band. The official fuel consumption was 19.7mpg. Long-term test cars run by motor mags were getting around 21mpg in the real world, and you could score mid-20s on a cruise, but exploiting the available performance in a vehicle of this power and heft would get that number down to something closer to 10mpg. Your tyres wouldn’t last long under that sort of driving regimen either. Even on the standard 22-inch rims 325/35 P Zeroes for the rear will cost you nearly £600 each from a firm like Blackcircles, or nearer to £800 for P Zero Corsas in the same size.
Dealer servicing was free for the first three years or 30,000 miles but after that the fixed costs would be over £2,000 for each of the fourth and fifth-year services, dropping to £1,500 in year six and just over £600 in year seven before rising again to £1,800 in year eight. How reliable has it been? At least one owner experienced repeated illumination of the engine management warning light that the dealer hadn’t been able to resolve. In some cases, this was accompanied by stalling or misfiring. This has been attributed to a variety of causes: too-low fuel pressure from either a failing pump or a clogged fuel filter, faulty spark plugs and/or coils, or faulty air flow/oxygen/engine temp sensors.
Weak batteries can have a massive negative effect on complex cars like the DBX so it’s important to keep an eye on its health and on that of the alternator too. Tech service bulletins were put out to address potential issues with the DBX’s battery charging system and to diagnose and rectify faults with the starter motor and alternator. There was a recall in 2020 for some DBXs that had improperly tightened battery cable terminals. Some issues with the basic torque converter transmission have been reported, again possibly down to sensor or wiring problems. A software update was carried out to address harsh or hesitant gearshifts.
As a completely new design, the DBX had the potential for having the kitchen sink thrown at it, chassis tech-wise. AM’s engineering director and general legend Matt Becker ensured that it was not left wanting on that front. The double-wishbone front, multi-link rear setup had three-chamber air springing, electronic adaptive dampers and an eARC 48v anti-roll system. The all-wheel drivetrain could put nearly all of the power through the rear wheels, establishing a great platform for the keen driver to exploit via six driving modes, including Individual. The DBX707 changed that ‘nearly all’ to ‘all’. It also had a beefier electronic limited-slip rear diff, recalibrated air, damping and anti-roll, and a shorter final drive to enhance acceleration.
Selecting Terrain Response Plus mode on any DBX raised the suspension by 50mm and set up the central and rear diffs and the stability control system for loose surface driving. You also had hill descent control for pedal-free negotiation of extreme inclines. Even on all-season tyres, the car was highly capable in the mire. On the road, the ride was beautifully damped and the grip available from the standard 22-inch wheels (or optionally 23-inch on the 707) was excellent. You could turn down the ESP but not entirely disable it even in Sport+, a wise precaution on such a tall, heavy and powerful vehicle.
Although the DBX ‘shrank’ appreciably around the driver on A-roads, one sign of a well-confected chassis, it did feel like quite a large car in town. The steering was not rich in feel but it was accurate. There was no rear-wheel steering but standard surround-view cameras helped you to park. Adaptive cruise control, another first for Aston, added value to the car’s already fine motorway manners.
Regular DBX braking was powerful despite running conventional steel discs. Vents surrounding the daytime running lights cooled the brakes, the warm air escaping via neatly integrated wing slots. Besides specially developed Pirelli P Zero tyres and upgraded suspension the DBX707 had mega braking from AM’s biggest ever carbon ceramics – 420mm with six pistons at the front and 390mm at the back – which chopped 40kg off the unsprung mass. Ceramics weren’t an option on the regular DBX. The modifications to the 707’s chassis didn’t reduce its refinement or ride quality.
There have been odd issues with DBX suspension ‘locking up’. One owner was still experiencing intermittent trouble with it after taking it back to the dealer three times. Air compressors could fail. Other DBXs have suffered from knocking from the rear suspension which generated a technical service bulletin for replacement of the rear dampers and mountings.
Tech bulletins were also put out for noisy or reduced power steering on 2020 models, which led in some cases to the replacement of the power steering pump and a fluid flush. Steering wheel wobble was an issue on some 2021MY cars, resulting in steering column assemblies being replaced under a TSB (Technical Service Bulletin).
Interior design was recognisably Aston with those long-lasting dashtop gear selection buttons, that distinctively bulky steering wheel, and more leather than a Hells Angels' convention. Overall the cabin wasn’t quite as sumptuous as a Bentayga’s but you could say the same thing about more or less any car. In isolation it was lovely. Electric heated/ventilated seats were standard and the driving position was gratifyingly low and sporty for an SUV. Special-colour leathers were a £2,500 extra and a very nice Alcantara headlining was £1,500. Equally nice wood veneers could be had as part of a £3,000 pack.
Storage was excellent in both amount and cleverness. The room in the back was massive and a full-length panoramic glass roof was standard so there was a good feeling of airiness. The 632 litres of boot space was larger than the Bentayga’s (430 litres) or the Urus’s (616 litres). Only the Cayenne beat it, and then not by much. There was no dropoff in the quality of the carpeting and leather materials used in the DBX boot.
Less savoury was the infotainment, a slow-acting old-gen Mercedes non-touchscreen (i.e. touchpad and rotary wheel) system with Aston graphics grafted onto it. Smartphone mirroring for Apple devices was not wireless and nor was it that reliable. Still, at least you had something: Android users didn’t. The infotainment voice control wasn’t great.
The standard 800-watt 14-speaker audio was good but there have been reports of volume control difficulties, sometimes related to a dodgy amp or speaker. Some of the cabin plastics used, for example for the window switches and the digital dial surround, were a bit low-rent, as was the wrongly sized rubbery recipient of the ignition key. The lack of a head-up display option was unfortunate in a car of this price.
The DBX707 had new and very comfortable 16-way sports seats although buyers still had to put up with the old-gen infotainment. Depending on when you’re reading this story the DBX707 enhancements mentioned in this story were due to arrive, or will already have arrived, in the standard DBX. The latest update we have was a pronouncement in November ’23 by AM chairman Lawrence Stroll to the effect that the DBX was going to benefit from the DB12’s new touchscreen infotainment system ‘in the near future’. A recent drop off in DBX sales to the key Chinese market (where cars like BMW’s XM are seen as being more technically on point) suggests that this can’t happen soon enough.
Do you like the DBX look? It did divide opinion at launch, but at least part of that resistance was caused by having to get over the idea of an Aston SUV in the first place. Once you’d made that leap of logic you could go on to judge it against rivals like the Urus. This sort of thing will always be subjective of course but if you wanted a sporty look to your SUV the DBX definitely ticked that box, along with the Aston-look box thanks to the fitment of the biggest Aston grille and bonnet badge ever.
The DBX707 ramped up that sporting sensation with new aero bits including a rear diffuser, rear spoiler, bigger side skirts, and a new front bumper, all of them optionally available in carbon fibre through the ‘Gloss 2x2 Twill’ pack. Who thinks up these names? There was an even bigger slatted grille for the 707, plus rear wing brake vents and new horizontal DRLs.
The 707 ushered in some new paint options across the DBX range. It also brought in a soft-close function for the doors that the standard DBX hadn’t had before, along with an electronic towbar option, but there was still no rear wiper. Aston reckoned the roof spoiler kept the glass clear, which was fine as long as you were moving. All DBX windows were double-glazed and frameless. One owner reported the external door trim coming loose twice due to ‘poor quality mounting brackets’ which were replaced by the dealer. Tech bulletins were released to put right dicky sensors for the blind spot monitoring and park assist systems.
In the world of deluxe SUVs, where less can be more, you might consider the DBX to be less bombastic than a Bentayga, less common than a Cayenne, less rank and file than a Range Rover and less uncouth than a Urus. An AMG G63 could be the best choice of all, but at the end of day the Aston is an entirely valid choice in such company, which is a hell of an achievement for a first attempt. The 707 has been particularly successful, and you can see why when you look at the relatively small price differential between it and the noticeably slower regular car.
Any DBX succeeds brilliantly in two very disparate and potentially conflicting areas of endeavour, viz all-wheel drive utilitarianism and Aston Martinism. Early DBXs certainly have had their share of teething troubles but these should have all been rectified by TSB or recall action.
As of now (November 2023) used prices have dipped under £100k, a sorely tempting number when you consider that many if not most of these cars will have been optioned up to twice that amount by their first owners only three years ago. A 600hp W12 Bentayga can be had for around £65k these days but that will be an older and quite different sort of vehicle that won’t appeal to everybody. The most affordable DBXs on PH Classifieds at the time of writing managed to fall into this tempting sub-£100,000 range. Here’s a 46,000-mile example for £99,950 or a 40,000 miler in a different shade of black for £99,995.
There’s plenty of choice in the £110k-£120k bracket. We’ve picked out this one at just under £115k, not so much because it’s a 1913 edition but because of its ceramic blue paintwork, a nice change from the more sober colours you’re more likely to find in the used DBX market. At the end of 2023 used DBX707s were typically starting at just under £160,000. The range on PH Classifieds ran from a 6,000-mile example at £169,950 to a divisively purple 315-miler at £215,000.
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