Resident Contributor Andre Lam Opines On The DBX 707 From Sardinia.
When Aston Martin introduced the DBX in 2020 we did not expect another DBX quite so soon because with 550 PS and 700 Nm of torque it did not seem lacking. But the new Aston Martin DBX 707 was already planned from the beginning to capture the title of “Most Powerful Luxury SUV”. To say that the DBX is an important model in Aston Martin’s line up is an understatement. It is rather a pivotal model that in order for Aston Martin to survive, needs to be successful and hence with the DBX 707, should bolster sales for the Gaydon outfit.
SUVs are all the rage now with the segment’s own eco-system, from small SUVs to large SUVs and in more recent times, sports SUVs. Aston Martin obviously resides at the sporty end of SUVs but it cannily suggests it is a luxury SUV. It is of course a page taken from Porsche’s play book where income generated from SUV sales ensures that their sportscar lines can continue to be developed and produced.
Have they waited too long to get into the SUV game? It might be a bit late but the race isn’t over yet. The SUV is sort of a godsent for Aston Martin because as a maker of luxurious sportscars, the definition of the sportscars has been held by the likes of Ferrari, Lamborghini or Porsche where it has less and less to do with quality of craftsmanship that rivals Bentley but more about greater power and less weight, creating almost bare-boned cars that obsesses about 0-100 km/h times and lap times at the track. Luxury only plays a supporting role and the added weight it brings is more often than not, unwelcomed.
For SUVs, being how big or heavy was never in question where even a sporty example is significantly over two tons. No one was counting. Aston Martin has now the chance to redefine this genre. This might sound like blasphemy to the car enthusiast but it has not stopped the overwhelming sales success of the SUV. The Aston Martin DBX follows the unibody construction of their sport cars range, using aluminium and aluminium composites to create a relatively lightweight SUV that weighs in at 2245 kg. This is coincidentally the same weight of the significantly more powerful DBX 707.
Their boast of it being the most powerful luxury SUV in the world is not an empty one. With 707 PS (hence its name) Aston Martin wants to make the headlines as it blasts to 100 km/h in a supercar rivalling 3.3 seconds and will reach a top speed of 310 km/h. Mercedes-Benz may have provided the AMG twin turbo V8 hardware but it was left to Aston Martin to develop the engine for 707 PS, a figure that is still within the operating parameters of the supplied hardware without retooling. Surprisingly, the DBX 707 is nearly as powerful as AMG’s 730 PS GT Black Series.
Aston Martin decided to beef up the 9-speed planetary automatic by replacing the torque converter with a multi-plate wet clutch that gives added snap to the gear shifts. It is faster than the standard torque converter but not quite as quick as the DCT type. It might seem to stand on middle grounds but the planetary type gearbox has nine gear ratios, and is robust enough for the 900 Nm from this V8 engine which can be used for towing, while a DCT cannot.
It is equipped with a center differential that can direct 100 percent of the torque to the rears but for normal operation torque distribution front-to-rear remains fully automatic. In the rear there is an e-Diff that has lower gearing than the standard DBX, 3.27 compared to 3.07 which effectively shortens the gear ratios for improved acceleration in all the gears and the overdriven 9th gear ratio compensates for it at cruising speeds.
Aston Martin also wanted a DBX 707 that would set a benchmark for being an enjoyable enthusiast’s driving machine. This was a tougher ask, but fortunately, Aston Martin had hired some engineers from Lotus, which as you might already know, makes some of the lightest sportscars around.
One of the engineers, Andy Tolkey, explained the DBX project had been designed around the correct engineering fundamentals for making a sportscar. It might not be lightweight in the same sense but the DBX has all its heaviest components well within the front and rear axles. Also the components are mounted as low as it is consistent with a SUV.
It may have been troublesome to incorporate these ideals in the design and production in terms of cost, but it has paid huge dividends for the 707 project. To not have to resort to engineering workarounds because of poor fundamentals makes getting things right much easier, but it has not always been a straightforward journey.
Making a big SUV handle like a sportscar is a big ask. As a SUV, its center of gravity is much higher and its ground clearance while great for off-road activity hampers getting sportscar dynamics. Developing the power was a far easier task than getting the DBX 707 to behave like a proper sportscar. The SUV components are bigger and beefier than is optimal for a sportscar, for instance, items like 23 inch wheels and stronger suspension parts.
There is a triple-chambered air suspension that offers firm springing with variable ride height to reduce pitch and roll, especially difficult in a vehicle this tall. But it is key to getting such a plush ride out of a SUV suspension. To help counter body roll there is a 48V active anti-roll system that gives greater roll control with no expense to ride comfort.
It is easy enough to specify all the necessary suspension components but fortunately someone at Aston Martin has spent a good deal of time getting this chassis set up right. This DBX 707 is the best example of a sporty SUV suspension with superb body control and good ride comfort at the same time. I have had the pleasure to have driven sports saloons with such superb suspension tuning but I am left wondering if I have ever come across a luxury SUV that feels quite as sorted.
Electric power steering systems have not always been great for a sporty car but in this case, the Aston Martin engineering team tweaked the settings such that it feels like a hydraulic system with the correct heft and proportionality in the turns, allowing the driver to accurately steer this behemoth through difficult bends. Even the large 420mm/390mm carbon-ceramic brakes have been revised, optimising caliper sizing and booster characteristics, seeking to improve pedal feel and braking response to deliver greater driver confidence through greater precision. It has certainly been well matched to the weight of the DBX 707, performing stops as if it were a hot hatch.
It was on the mountainous roads of Sardinia where the DBX 707 shines, tackling serpentine roads with aplomb. Even though it is on the wrong side of two tons, it just does not feel heavy at all. Sure it is a big vehicle but the agility is remarkable thanks to the steering and chassis behaving as one. Something with over 700 PS should not feel so at ease when deploying the entire stable of horses blasting out of corners. That it is not daunting at all is a testament to the development decisions made by the development team.
The current sportscar market presents some challenges for Aston Martin’s sports coupes but in the world of SUVs, they have an excellent chance to rush to the head of the class with this sports SUV, combining the British hand crafted luxury that rivals Bentley and Rolls Royce with the sportiness that Aston Martin has been renowned for, because size and weight are no longer primary concerns. Packing the DBX with hand-made luxury items is no longer an issue. Hopefully with Aston Martin’s participation in Formula One, the DBX 707 will get more recognition.
While their F1 bid is not going too well at the moment, the DBX 707 has won me over with its blend of sportscar handling, controlled ride, blazing acceleration, superb steering, confident braking and everyday usability. As an SUV, the DBX 707 works far better than it has any right to. It controls the middle ground between the hard-riding Urus and the refined Bentayga, offering the best of both worlds. To be able to hit lofty targets takes talent, to hit objectives no one sees is genius. The DBX 707 seems to be a bit of both.
- Car: Aston Martin DBX 707
- Engine: 3,982cc, Twin-Turbo V8
- Transmission: 9-Speed Automatic with Multi-plate wet clutch
- Power: 707 PS at 6000rpm
- Torque: 900 Nm at 4500 rpm
- 0-100 km/h: 3.3 seconds
- Top Speed: 310 km/h
- Fuel Consumption: 14.2 L/100 km (WLTP Combined)
Visuals: Dominic Fraser, Max Earey & Aston Martin