sacrilege or sensible.
Those are really the two sides of the fence that people tend to occupy when it comes to sports car manufacturers turning their hands to SUVs.
I've long been of the opinion that if you need to make a lucrative automotive Swiss Army knife in order to underpin the more traditional side of your business, then Well, so be it.
And with that, let me present the Aston Martin DBX.
As SUVs go, I rather like the look of it from the front, although not so much from the back.
However, it's the inside of this car that I think will really appeal to potential customers.
So that's where I thought I'd start my chat with Andrew Haslin, the DBX's vehicle line director.
Thank you so much for joining me in DBX to talk around it.
We thought we'd start inside the car because, well, this is probably the most important interior for an Astin Martin ever, I should think, isn't it really?
Yeah, you're right.
And we started the project back in 2015.
And one of the most important parts of DBX has to be that it qualifies as an SUV.
And the interior is fundamental to that, because it's A new area for us where compromises and accepted and therefore we've absolutely maximised everybody's space we can get for the interior and whether it's leg room in the front and rear which is [UNKNOWN], leading with Booth space we've got class leading booth space as well.
All the amount of storage we have the glove box, the door bins under the center console, an incredible amount of space.
And so we spent a huge amount of time making sure when you get in the car you just feel completely at home.
And so your driving position for example, it's got a nice sports feel to it.
Your You feel quite low and it's got a high dash here.
It feels recognizably like an Aston Martin sort of still, despite the fact we're higher up overall.
Exactly, and that's the balance we wanted.
It's an SUV so, everybody who buys NSEV wants this feeling of elevation they want to see over the cars in front of them and have a great visibility around the car.
But equally it's an Aston Martin.
So we wanted to make sure people felt like they were sitting in the car rather Sitting on the car which many, many more utilitarian SUV do you just feel like you're not part of it, you've been driven along on top of it, but absolutely we wanted that sports car for you.
And that feeling of space as well.
This is the first time I've satin it but and I had a quick sit in the back as well.
I'm obviously I'm six foot five, And I left the seat, this is actually more leg room than I would need to drive it, but the seat in this position, there's tons of leg room in the back.
And this panoramic roof is standard, is that right?
Yes, yes, standard fit.
So that gives you a sort of, it's not quite sitting in a conservatory, but it feels really nice and airy cuz the seats are In the back, they're not those sort of podium seats you'd find in something like a Discovery or something.
That where you can sit sort of slightly over the passengers in the front, that you sit still nice and down in but yeah, it's not claustrophobic at all, is it?
No, if we've actually struck a brilliant balance between the R&D team and the design team to make sure we've got a car that is.
We think beautiful.
But equally, it's got this amount of space so you can imagine we've got a not overly coupesque roofline but it's a very sweeping roofline.
Which then puts pressure on the rear occupant for head Leg room.
And again, we've great pains, you know some real hidden gems in this car, like the roof blind itself actually, you frankly can't even get your finger between the roof blind in the glass because we just eat out every last few millimeters of space to make sure when you sat in the back, it is as comfortable as a front you've got as much headroom, leg room and it's just a really nice place to be.
And the seats as well as reading out the other day.
So derived from DB 11, is that all right?
Yeah, absolutely, what, what became very apparent was with over 100 years of history of making sports cars, what makes a very good sports car actually starts to make an incredible SUV, whether it's low center of gravity or use of very compact components, like the seat Well actually, because it's used in the sports cars, it's very shallow in height and it's also very shallow in depth.
So with the height we've elevated the seat which makes a huge amount of foot space in the rear, so you can put your feet right under the seat in front, and with the shallowness it gives you a huge amount of knee clearance.
So you just, that sports car philosophy of make it light, make it small as possible actually works really well for creating a great SUV.
Let's talk about some of the materials that is beautifully trimmed as you would expect for an Aston Martin.
Leather in here and something we've got the same speakers.
I can see one speakers over the rest of them all covered by leather, which gives it quite a nice through quite a good simple feel in here, isn't it?
Yeah one of the design philosophies is very much.
Around reducing clutter and it's as much about what you do see and what we deliberately stop you from seeing.
And so the speaker grills were absolutely reducing sort of visual clutter and just making the car feel.
Nice, we're in a more relaxing place to sit.
And interestingly actually, the speaker in the center, he has got an event that sits next to it.
So the air comes out through the perforation in the leather to kind of diffuse the air into the cabin.
So it looks like one makes me realize that you do executive functions.
Exactly that The 14 speakers are part of a new 800 watt sound system developed with Harlan Samsung.
Most of the tech is recognizable from Mercedes but it's a generation on from what you will find in other Aston's with a 10.25 inch TFT screen in the middle, and to 12.3 inch screen for the dash.
There is also a 360 degree camera system to aid parking and more whimsically there is a 64 color jewel zone ambient lighting system Anyway, back to more conditional things like leather and wool.
Obviously that's the martin, you can take our full natural grain leather, we've got the [UNKNOWN] materials that you'd come to expect and let me Introducing great new materials with DBX.
We've got this veneer here, which is called a flax composite.
Which is a more natural composite material, which-
Sounds like a natural kind of fiber.
[CROSSTALK] Not necessarily the structural properties, but it's a nice alternative.
And then we've got this incredible wool
Fabric which is sufficient wool quantity to be branded as a natural wool.
It gets the wool mark.
It gets the wool mark, exactly and it sits in the lower cabinet and again it brings a wonderful softness to the feel of the interior Yeah, that's fantastic.
Let's talk a bit about the drive train.
What I'm actually gonna be controlling, what's under your right foot and that sort of thing.
We've got the turbocharged V-8.
That we've seen in the Vantage before but slightly changed from that?
Yes, it's a slightly higher tech engine than the Vantage engine.
So it brings with it some new technology like cylinder deactivation, for example, and it delivers a greater power output.
So it's 550 ps, 700 Newton meters of torque.
So that is made into a nine speed transmission.
Okay, so first time we've we've had a nine speed gearbox in an Aston Martin.
And actually that pairing is wonderful for this car because it allows you to travel in a very tranquil, calm way, if you want to on the motorway.
It's incredibly low [UNKNOWN] when you're doing 70 mile an hour and effortless overtaking When you want to equally you can work the gearbox and work the river engine, and you get a hugely rewarding sports car all of a sudden.
And then in terms of the decision, you got centered read GIFs.
Then buying the gearbox, we've got the active transfer case, which is an amazing bit of technology.
And it lends itself really well to be an Aston Martin SUV technology.
Because it allows us to have almost 50 50 tool distribution front or rear, but when we wanted in a more sporting mode we can go 100% rear wheel drive.
Presumably helping out is you've got the 48 volts and you're own system which is now [UNKNOWN] really for this sort of car.
But presumably helps it if you want this to behave like a sports car.
No exactly, you gotta have it really.
All of these systems work brilliantly well together because behind the transfer case we've then got an [UNKNOWN] So with the car, we're able to move the talk forward, and we're able to move the talk left to right on the rear axle.
So again I spoke about making sports cars and how actually it lends itself really well to an SUV.
Being able to move the talk around is Brilliant for an SUV for grit, but obviously it's brilliant for a sports car as well because you get that drive and character.
We've created our own bespoke suspension system with the sole purpose of being a DBX.
So it's, it's un compromised.
Don't wish bends it front.
Yes, three chamber chamber air suspension.
And you also mentioned the.
Anti roll control, the electronic anti roll control, and we have adaptive dampers.
So each of those bits of technology sounds a bit confusing actually.
But if you imagine the air springs, triple chamber a spring that allows us to do.
Different spring rates so we can adjust the comfort level of the spring rates, and we can also adjust the ride height of the car.
So we can go up 45 millimeters in multi-terrain mode, and we can drop down 50 millimeters for ingress, egress.
With the anti-roll control system, it's essentially a split in the middle of the anti-roll bar.
And we've got a 1,400 newton-meter System that prevents body roll, and 1400 meter meters but in context is is about 50% more than some of our competitors have.
So for every G of cornering we can maintain less than half a degree of body roll.
Some of our competitors may be 1200 front 900 rear, which means they're less precise in how they control the body, and maybe at times we noticed some of their cars don't control their body role as well as we want to.
So you combine those technologies of electronic anti roll control, triple chamber suspension, and Bespoke suspension geometry and you get a car that drives like a sports car when you want it equally.
We're in a nice, calm cabin.
Again, on the motorway, it rides incredibly smoothly when you want it to.
And then through the touch of the mode switches you can transform that character Because we got different modes here obviously compared to say advantage or whatever we got terrain train.
And with the BX what we What we're very conscious of is we may be bringing a slightly less technology savvy or technology interested customer.
And so we've got all this incredible technology on the car and we want to make sure people can use it and it's accessible.
So with the sports cars you're able to change the engine and gearbox with one button.
And you're able to change the suspension setting with another and the slip control system is with another button.
With DBA to simply move up and down the modes and it puts the car into the best positions possible to get the most out of the car.
Should we go outside and have a look at the design and some of the error and stuff like that?
Whilst we extract ourselves from the car.
Here are a few more hard facts about the DBX.
It has a note a 60 mile an hour time of 4.3 seconds and a top speed of 181 miles an hour more unconventionally for an Aston.
It has a curb weight of 2,245 kilos awaiting depths of 500 millimetres and can tow up to 2,700 kilos.
You'll also be able to set your DVX with a number of packages, such as the pet pack, which comes with a portable washer, which might be good for Mad Max to have a snow pack which supplies you with boot warmers for those cold January trips to the mountains.
Anyway, back to sunny Spain.
It's strange Fraser walk out to it because it looks almost like the size of a sort of, I suppose more portion account Sort of size but obviously it's Kayan actual size, which is I suppose comes down to some of the sculptural elements of it.
Yeah, it's a mix actually of sculpture and bass proportion.
And when we first set out in the projects We wanted to make sure the car looked like an Aston Martin.
And we weighed up the opportunity of using another manufacturers platform or creating our own.
And very earlier on we realised there will be huge benefits in creating our own platform for designs.
And so you get a unique [UNKNOWN] from the side, we have what we described as a premium Premium proportion which is really the occupant sort of foot through to the front wheel and in getting some of that distance in that that gives a car more luxurious appearance, but equally we wanted some of our sports car Character like the very shallow bonnet on top of the front wheel, for example where most SUVs are really quite a high stack of metal.
With DVX we've achieved an incredibly shallow, painted area that sits above that.
That front wheel as you look across the car and then equally it's got a really long wheel base DBX, which gives it the benefit on the interior of having a huge amount of space.
That leg room in the back and stuff like that?
Absolutely but on the outside, it gives it a very sleek, sporting appearance and it's that Proportion of the bonnet to the overall length, to the height, that makes it look like a smaller SUV.
Yeah, it's an interesting car to walk around, cuz it does change from all the angles, sort of from our height, from up here.
In fact, if you sort of get down, it changes again, in terms of the way it looks, and stuff like that.
One thing I couldn't help is
That has to be bigger than that week bad.
He's got to be bigger than he.
Yes, it absolutely is.
Because it's the biggest grill we've put on an Aston Martin and when you have a big grill, everything else needs to sit in proportion around it.
So the whole car is clearly bigger than one of the sports car.
So it's got a big grill but then the badge needed to be in proportion to the front grille.
So a slightly larger But still hand enamelled jewelry piece made in made in the UK.
And just for context, so we're on 22 inch wheels on this?
The a standard?
22 inch wheels are standard.
So this, this car has the standard style wheel.
And then we have a ribbon option wheel, which is also a 22 inch wheel.
Absolutely, and with 205 and 325 from the bank.
We've got a definite wheel bias on tyre width to help with that dynamic character we want and we've got huge amounts of torque we can put to rear axons so the You can change the the character of the car and the tire width with the front helps us with the dynamic character that we want.
And do you have different tire options presumably given the range of things that can be in.
It's gonna be in different climates and stuff around the world.
You want to go into.
Absolutely European markets.
We've got a summer tire standard, an amazing perelli.
P zero tire, and we have done a winter option.
And in North America, snow Valley type areas, we've got, all terrain tire, which is, which is good all year round city.
pick up on some of the design things.
I suppose this down here, this, which is the, the DRL, high is actually an aerodynamic part of it, right?
Taken great pains to make sure we use all of the features of the car functionally.
So those daylight running lamps as you say, they've got a vent that goes all the way through into the front wheel arch and then it exhausts behind the fender panel And takes the air along the side of the car, so it just helps you create this air curtain along the side of the car to reduce overall drag on the car.
And then you can see here on the engine, we take the air into the front, we exhaust it out the vents on the back and at the back of the bonnet.
And then when we look over the whole car, We've got an incredibly neat trick on the rear of the car, which again, it looks quite simple but actually, it's simple because we took so long to create the system so the air travels along the roof And then the rear wing actually drives down the rear screen which makes sure that rear screen self clears of water.
So actually the rear screen always stays clean, so it's got that purpose.
But it's also driving it over the rear spoiler on the rear of the deck lid to activate the spoiler.
To reduce drag.
Because otherwise, I mean, given where it is, it looks very cool.
And it looks like the flicker from vantage, and that sort of thing.
But presumably, it wouldn't work if you simply had the higher spot on there, because there'd be no airflow [UNKNOWN]
Exactly, it wouldn't get there, which is where the removal of the
[UNKNOWN] it wasn't the target bows in the team they they sculpted out this incredible sort of hole in the spoiler to drive the air down and we're really close with our aerodynamics guys to make sure it does that performance well,
So and then down to the back end, obviously got the two exhausts and the back as well is there a.
Sports exhaust option for the car.
So the car is a standard exhaust system which sounds incredibly.
We're again taking great pain with the NVH guys to make sure this Car sounds like an Aston Martin sports car.
And it's a balance of the full frequency range and really, Aston Martin sound character has a bit of a bias towards mid frequency.
So the VA naturally is quite a low frequency sounding engine.
And with the exhaust tuning and shape, we've increased that mid frequency to give it more of an Aston sound character.
But then, you can have a sports exhaust which as a driver just sounds incredible.
They both sound incredible but one is just A louder and more sporty version.
And you've got the gas particulate filters on.
Again another really neat technology where it's meeting the emissions requirements but we've designed in such a way that it doesn't suppress the sound quality of the car.
[UNKNOWN] such as drive it.
I'm intrigued by it.
What is an Aston Martin SUV you can drive like?
So hope you'll find out very soon.
For something that is such a departure from the norm for Aston Martin, it feels like the company has done a remarkably good job.
But 158,000 pounds or a $189,900 dollars, the DBX is certainly at the luxury end of the SUV market, but I think the interior lives up to that.
The final piece of the jigsaw is, of course, how it feels on the move.
But if it drives as well as claimed, then perhaps it won't be branded as either sacrilege or sensible, but simply seen as an Aston Martin.
That would surely be the ultimate accolade.
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