First ride: 2020 Aston Martin DBX prototype

There’s a slight, 54:46 front biased weight distribution to the 2245kg off-roader. Aston values vehicle handling highly and, as a result, the DBX has a raft of dynamics systems “without which you couldn’t do it”, according to Becker.

There is double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension, triple-chamber air springs at each corner, adaptive Bilstein dampers and 48V active anti-roll bars, which, Aston says, are specced to provide 1033lb ft of roll resistance, more torque than in any rival. Overall, the DBX has less body roll than a Vantage. Aston could have made it roll not at all, but apparently that “feels weird”, said Becker.

Aston has benchmarked heavily ahead of launching a car in a new segment. It says it has tried nearly all of its rivals but has particularly targeted the BMW X6 M, Range Rover Sport SVR and Porsche Cayenne Turbo. This car is as large a leap for Aston as the Cayenne was for Porsche. “You have to change your test procedures because sports car procedures don’t work,” said Becker.

The targets are challenging because the remit of an SUV is so broad. “Working on this makes you a fan of SUVs,” admitted Becker.

The DBX has a centre differential that can place up to 47% of power to the front wheels or leave 100% going to the rear, where there’s an electronically controlled limited-slip differential. On a damp Stowe circuit at Silverstone, which Aston recently adopted as its test track, it was possible to slide the car around – not something customers will ever do, but evidence that Aston takes handling seriously, even in this market sector.

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Different drive modes can drop the ride height by up to 30mm for on-road dynamism or raise it by 45mm off road, where, with a 500mm wade depth and anti-roll bars that are effectively disengaged. The DBX can pull 2.7 tonnes and have 100kg mounted on its roof. It is available with regular, all-season or winter tyres, all bespoke Pirellis.

The DBX seemed extremely capable off road, although pulling a horse box across wet grass is “the metric” customer demand, said Becker.

On the Aston’s roll bars, the motors can’t be disconnected and will drag, so sometimes, rather than putting torque in to reduce roll, power is applied to them to increase articulation and make the car ride with more flow.

This, you suspect, is the hardest part of getting a car to feel right: the endless hours, days, weeks of tuning everything in the hope that when you eventually try it, it feels natural to you, the customer. There’s no active rear-steer for that reason.


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