What the DBX doesn’t have, interestingly, is four-wheel steering – and not by chance, as Becker explained from the passenger seat during our test drive. “We’ve ‘protected’ four-wheel steering for the car, so we can use it later if we feel it’s necessary,” says Becker, “and I appreciate what it can do for a car like this on low-speed agility and outright lateral grip. But, honestly, I just don’t like the effect it can have on steering and cornering behaviour. Too often I find myself having to ‘steer’ cars that have 4WS several times on the way around a corner, because they can be over-responsive and a bit unpredictable generally. And we really wanted the DBX to feel natural, intuitive; easy to place.”
It’s not a stretch up to get into the DBX, and it’s not a car most will need to duck to enter either. You sit more recumbently than in most SUVs, and feel more enclosed because of the high windowline, the slim glasshouse and the fairly ‘fast’ windscreen angle – but also because door panels wrap reasonably closely around your outboard elbow.
The rich, enveloping cabin has a more cosy feel than you’re expecting, then – but it’s also usefully roomy. There’s plenty space for bigger adults in the back, while Aston claims 632 litres of boot space. It’s certainly a cargo bay of a very good size, and looks like it ought to swallow bulky objects like pushchairs, golf bags and dog boxes with space to spare. There will be more practical SUVs I dare say, but the DBX ought to do very well for people who’ve been waiting for genuinely usable, comfortable and versatile four-seater from Aston Martin.
Despite its only medium-high hip point and rakish screen, the car offers good forward visibility thanks to its lowish scuttle – and because you can see the front corners of bodywork directly above the front wheels, it’s easy to judge the car’s size on the road and it doesn’t feel any larger than it needs to.
When you’re using the car’s most laid-back and comfortable ‘GT’ driving mode, you’d characterize the ride and handling in similar terms to those of the last four-door GT that Aston made, the likable Rapide S. It’s a very comfortable car and a reasonably well isolated one too, even on 22in rims. The difference from the Rapide experience here is, of course, that that everything happens at a foot of greater altitude from the surface of the road.
There is no doubt that, despite of its greater bulk and raised body profile, the DBX becomes tauter, quicker and more agile than the Rapide ever was when you put it into ‘Sport’ and ‘Sport+’ modes, as it squats over its wheels, gathers its powers of body control and responsiveness and takes on plenty of convincing sporting purpose. That’s perhaps the most meaningful dynamic compliment I can pay the car, and the team behind it; that it develops and improves the capacities of the four-door Aston at once to perform, to engage, to handle and simply to comfortably and agreeably transport, in apparently opposite dimensions all at the same time.