No, Mr Bond, I Expect You to Fly
The go-faster Aston Martin DBX shares its name with an old airliner, and it’s
almost as powerful, as James Fossdyke has been finding out
Steve Miller once told us his heart kept calling him backwards as he got on the [Boeing] 707, but I had absolutely no such compunction about slipping into the Aston Martin of the same name. That’s partly because it’s a brand new SUV, rather than a 65-year-old airliner, and partly because it’s among the most exciting new Aston Martins of the past decade.
The product of a new deal between the fabled British manufacturer and Mercedes-AMG, the new DBX707 is an evolution of the DBX SUV that caused such a stir when it was revealed in 2019. The original car had a 542bhp 4.0-litre Mercedes-AMG petrol engine, which Aston’s engineers desperately wanted to fettle. But Mercedes said no, until a new deal was struck between the two companies.
Now, Aston Martin’s engineers have had theirwicked way with the engine and indeed the rest of the car, creating the astounding new ‘707’ model. With modified turbochargers and revised software, the new car produces a mind-blowing 697bhp (that’s 707PS for those who prefer metric measurements – hence the name), but Aston couldn’t just give the car more power and have done with it.
Producing more power means sucking more air into the engine, both to mix with the petrol and cool the whole thing down. That meant expanding the front grille to draw more air into the engine bay, which dramatically altered the design of the front end. Not only is the grille now
enormous, but the car is so thirsty for cooling air that the daytime running lights in the lower part of the bumper have been completely redesigned to free up more air intake space.
But the front end is only part of the overhaul. Everywhere you look, the DBX707 has new additions, from the side skirts to the rear bumper and from the vents on the flanks to the spoiler at the back of the roof, it’s all new and improved. All of which means the 707 is no more
aerodynamic than the standard DBX. That sounds like a criticism, but when you consider the need for drag-inducing cooling vents, it’s an impressive achievement.
But while the 707 is styled partly by science, the effect is somewhat more emotional. The high-powered car looks much meaner than the ‘standard’ DBX, which is now known as the ‘550’. It’s much more aggressive and, to my eyes at least, much easier on the eye. Maybe the grille is a bit much, but as DBXs go, this is the gold standard.
Yet while the exterior is vastly different, the interior is much the same as before. Sure, there’s a new driving mode selector and some new buttons for various suspension and exhaust settings, but it’s largely the same as before. Which means you get some lovely leather upholstery and a navigation system more or less lifted from Mercedes-Benz. Perhaps it isn’t the greatest infotainment screen in the world – there’s quite a fiddly laptop-style touchpad to control it with – but it looks good and it works well.
The big surprise is the space. The boot measures 632 litres, which means there’s more space in the Aston Martin than in a Lamborghini Urus or a Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT. Of course, all three are more than capable of carrying your holiday luggage, but the Aston is still a very practical thing. It’s spacious in the cabin, too. Carrying four adults is no hardship, and all the luxury features you expect are present and correct.
That’s partly because, despite the DBX707’s sporting intent, the engineers were adamant that the high-performance version should lose none of the standard car’s capability on- or off-road. Although it’s clearly much faster, Aston Martin decided it should be just as comfortable as the standard DBX and just as good over rough terrain. That meant the ground clearance would have to remain unchanged in normal and off-road modes, while the 707 can also be specified with a tow bar for customers who regularly pull horses or race
cars. Or both.
Which is why in its ‘standard’ setting, known as GT mode, the 707 doesn’t feel especially sporty. When you start off, it’s every bit as comfortable and as approachable as its less powerful sister, but ramping it up into the sportier settings allows the car to bare its teeth. The engine note becomes more aggressive, turning the V8 engine from a snoring guard dog to a snarling wolf, and the car becomes more responsive. Prodding the throttle will lead to an instant surge forwards, while the steering and brakes feel sharper and more direct.
The suspension gets stiffer, too, giving the DBX greater control of its bulk. Even when you corner hard, the body doesn’t wallow or lean excessively, although there’s more pitch and roll than you’d find in a Lamborghini Urus. assistance, room service, a laundry service, a hairdresser, a coin-operated laundry and a hotel shuttle bus.
But grip is plentiful and cornering speeds are still immense. It feels more like a GT car than an SUV.
It rides like one too. The Urus is stiff and unyielding on anything but the smoothest road surface, but the DBX707 just glides over the bumps. Even when you switch into one of the sportier settings, Aston’s engineers decided the 707 should lose none of the DBX’s refinement, and they have achieved that brilliantly. Whether you want to drive fast or cruise around, the DBX707 is properly capable, and that makes it a better all-rounder than pretty much anything else out there.
We’re lucky to have a slew of great luxury super-SUVs to choose from at the moment. The Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT is one of the best, as is the Lamborghini Urus, while the new Range Rover Sport looks likely to be quite spectacular. The DBX707, however, eclipses pretty much all comers. It may not have the breathtaking cornering ability of the Urus or the cabin quality of the Bentley Bentayga, but when it comes to performance and driving, the 707 has only one rival: the Porsche. I’ve spent all month wondering which one I’d choose, and I still can’t make my mind up