2020 Aston Martin DBX video review: prototype driven on and off-road

Aston Martin will hope to get its ‘Second Century’ expansion plans back on track by launching the 542bhp DBX in spring 2020 – the first SUV in the company’s 107-year history.

The £158,000, five-seat 4×4 has been in development since 2015, and aims to take a sizeable chunk out of the premium SUV market with its familiar, AMG-sourced 4.0-litre turbocharged V8. It’s built on an all-new platform not shared with any other Aston, and has been tested extensively across all surfaces to ensure it proves dynamic to drive, even when taken off-road.

So, is it a match for a Lamborghini Urus, Porsche Cayenne or a Bentley Bentayga? Matt Saunders hitched a ride in one with Aston’s chief chassis engineer Matt Becker, and then took a turn at the wheel through wet and muddy Wales, to find out.

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Source: AutoCar.co.uk

First drive: 2020 Aston Martin DBX prototype

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.

Source: AutoCar.co.uk

Autocar magazine 15 January – on sale now

Reviews

The Ford Puma leads the way in this week’s first drives. The compact crossover category has been badly needing an enthusiast-friendly class leader for a long time – but is the Puma the cat for the job? 

Elsewhere, the Kia Niro PHEV has a facelift, but – unfortunately – a price bump to match, the Mercedes GLC 300 Coupe 4Matic packs in plenty of luxury, and the Mazda 2 offers direct handling, though loses points with a less-than-perfect gearbox.

In the road test, the BMW 3 Series Touring impresses with its mix of performance and economy, but is this enough to justify a hefty £34,065 starting price? We put the latest 3 Series estate through its paces.

Features

It’s not too much of a stretch to say that Aston Martin’s future relies on the DBX. So what is this make-or-break SUV like? We got a good look at it when the camo wraps came off in November, but now, in the first of this week’s features, we’re driving it in prototype form.

Many petrolheads dream of a collection of classic cars, but Richard Bremner shows the life of a serial collector has a dark side: paperwork.

No such trouble for Matt Prior, who’s free as a bird in the all-new Jeep Gladiator. The Wrangler-based pick up looks ready for any terrain, so we took it a mountain in New Zealand. Does its off-road prowess match its rugged appearance?

Next, John Evans delves into the sad business of deer hitting, a tragedy that’s all too common for many motorists, before Steve Cropley rounds things off with a profile of the reborn MG Motor.

Opinions

Steve Cropley is finally impressed by a small Aston Martin, enjoying a ride in the British company’s Vantage for the first time in many years. A swerve into the politics of dog-ownership and fears of “Pothole Armageddon” fill up the rest of the week. Elsewhere, Matt Prior ponders the curious incident of the escape of Carlos Ghosn.

Source: AutoCar.co.uk

Buy them before we do: second-hand picks for 10 January

Aston Martin Vantage 4.3 V8, £23,995: With the new Bond film slated for release this April, why not play the part with this cheap-as-(gambling) chips Vantage? It’s a 2006-reg with a highish 82,000 miles but also a full service history courtesy of main dealers and reputable specialists.

Jaguar F-Type V8 Supercharged R, £31,980: The SVR is faster but try finding one, which is why we’ve settled for this R. It’s a 2014-reg with 80,000 miles, one owner and full Jaguar service history. It looks mint, in fact almost as good as it did the day it drove out of the showroom as a £92,000 car.

Volkswagen Golf R, £13,995: One of the best hot hatches ever for less than £14,000. That’s the price of this 2015/15-reg R manual with 60,000 miles. It has full service history but, as always, we’d scrutinise the service book and workshop receipts to check exactly how full.

Bentley Continental GT V8 S, £59,950: The best Continental yet, we declared at the model’s launch. Our find is a 2014-reg with 35,000 miles, for sale by a top dealer at around half what it cost new. The 2300kg coupé does 0-62mph in just 4.5sec. If you have to ask what the economy is…

Source: AutoCar.co.uk

Geely in talks to invest in Aston Martin – report

Aston Martin confirmed that it was in talks with potential investors late last year, following a story broken by Autocar and RaceFans.net, which first revealed interest in the firm from Stroll. Other potential investors are reported to include rival car makers and firms based in the Middle East, India and China.

Stroll, father of Formula 1 driver Lance and owner of the Racing Point F1 team, is estimated to be worth in excess of £2 billion, having made his money investing and building up brands including Pierre Cardin, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Asprey and Garrard.

He is also famed for his car collection, which is most notable for including what many regard as the most valuable collection of classic Ferraris in the world.

Both his business interests and car collection are reported to have given him the contacts to head a consortium looking to take control of Aston Martin, in the belief they can take advantage of its current low stock value and lower than expected sales prior to building the brand’s equity up again in future years, most notably by taking advantage of anticipated sales for the recently launched Aston Martin DBX SUV.  Aston confirmed it has received 1800 pre-orders for the DBX, but deliveries do not begin until mid-2020.

Both the Racing Point F1 team and Aston Martin currently have bases at Silverstone, although Aston’s headquarters are in Gaydon, Warwickshire.

The majority of Aston’s shares are currently held by the Kuwait-based Adeem/Primewagon group, while the Strategic European Investment Group, part of the Italian private equity group Investindustrial, currently holds around a one-third holding in the company. Mercedes parent Daimler also owns 4% of the firm – as well as supplying engines to the Racing Point F1 team owned by Stroll.

Both Geely and Lawrence Stroll have so far declined to comment on any of the reports.

The firm has come under intense scrutiny since floating in 2018, with a valuation of around £4.5bn. Today the share price has fallen by around 80% from that point.

Additional reporting by Dieter Rencken

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Source: AutoCar.co.uk

Aston Martin shelves production plans for Rapide E electric saloon

Aston Martin will not put its first pure-electric model, the Rapide E, into production as originally planned, Autocar understands.

First revealed in 2015 as a concept and confirmed for production in 2017, Aston had essentially finished the car’s development by the time it made its dynamic debut at last year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed. It was planned to make limited production at the end of last year, with 155 examples mooted at an undisclosed price.

However, a source close to the firm has told Autocar it will now become a research project used to further Aston’s broader electrification programme, with no intention of producing customer cars. It’s not clear yet how many orders of the model were taken, or whether refunds will have to be issued.

The British firm is focusing most of its efforts on the launch of the DBX, a crucial model that it hopes will have the desired impact of improving its difficult financial position. First deliveries of the super-SUV will commence in the second quarter of 2020.

Aston issued yet another profit warning for December on Tuesday as CEO Andy Palmer described 2019 as a “very disappointing year”. Shares fell to an all time low, below £4, not long after the news broke – down from £17 a share when the company was first floated. 

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Source: AutoCar.co.uk

Aston Martin continues talks with potential investors after new profit warning

Aston Martin has confirmed it is continuing talks with potential investors after issuing another profit warning due to “challenging trading conditions”.

Revealing the firm sold 5819 cars in 2019, 7% down on 2018, chief executive Andy Palmer said Aston had suffered a “very disappointing year”.

“The challenging trading conditions highlighted in November continued through the peak delivery period of December resulting in lower sales, higher selling costs and lower margins,” said Palmer.

As a result Palmer said that Aston’s earnings margin for 2019 will be 12.5-13.5 per cent. Last summer it issued a warning that the margin would be 20%, triggering a substantial fall in its stock price. Palmer added that adjusted earnings before interest tax depreciation and amortisation will be £130-140m, around £60m below expectations.

Palmer also revealed Aston spent more on marketing and underwriting finance than previously.

“Whilst we are disappointed with trading performance in 2019, our focus is now on revitalising the business, launching DBX and ensuring profitable growth in the medium-term,” added Palmer.

Late last year Aston Martin confirmed that it was in talks with potential investors, formally confirming a story broken by Autocar and RaceFans.net, which first revealed interest in the firm from billionaire Lawrence Stroll. Other potential investors are reported to include rival car makers and firms based in the Middle East, India and China.

Stroll, father of Formula 1 driver Lance and owner of the Racing Point F1 team, is estimated to be worth in excess of £2 billion, having made his money investing and building up brands including Pierre Cardin, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Asprey and Garrard.

Source: AutoCar.co.uk

Autocar magazine 8 January – on sale now

Reviews

The Porsche 911 Carrera leads the way in this week’s first drives. The 911 is a tried and tested formula so no surprises here: we found it a joy to drive, showing lithe handling and excellent ergonomics that made us forget it is the starting point for the 911 line-up.

Then, we steel ourselves for a run in what is currently the fastest and most powerful car Skoda makes: the Superb 2.0 TSI 272. It’s a bit on the pricey side, but old-school thrills and a pleasing amount of wallop lend left-field appeal.

Meanwhile, the entry-level Range Rover Velar packs in an impressive amount of luxury items for an entry-grade car, the Honda Civic Sport Line gains a hot new look and the R Line Edition Passat offers quietly impressive performance, albeit at a very high price.

In the road test, it’s the turn of the Land Rover Discovery Sport. The Disco is an enviably good off-roader, but how does it fare on an everyday road?

Features

Matt Prior kicks off the new year with a bang – or, more precisely, a rocket – when he meets the chief engineer of the Bloodhound LRS. As Bloodhound closes in on the 800mph target, our man finds out what it takes to bid for the land speed record.

Next, we dust off our crystal balls and post predictions for what 2020 has in store. We also tell you how to make the most of it, from rescuing an unloved car to going to a high-end car show.

Speaking of shows, Steve Cropley rounds off this week’s features with an account of his visit to the V&A museum’s new car exhibition: Accelerating the Modern World. Though it features just 15 vehicles, the show gives an enthralling and enlightening tour through the history of the automobile, providing an admirably neutral view on the cars that have shaped all of our lives.

Source: AutoCar.co.uk

Aston Martin plots super-exclusive Speedster inspired by Le Mans

Aston Martin will build a new, ultra-limited-run V12 Speedster model inspired by the brand’s 1959 Le Mans-winning racer.

The Speedster is set to make its debut later this year before first customer deliveries at the start of 2021 and has only been previewed in a design sketch so far.

The image shows the brand’s traditional race-inspired design cues, including the absence of a roof and windscreen, plus bespoke bodywork all-round, and displays clear links to Aston’s 2013 CC100 speedster concept, which was created to celebrate the maker’s centenary year.

The V12 Speedster has been created by Aston’s in-house bespoke ‘Q by Aston Martin’ division and is said to “elegantly combine an authentic, driver-orientated sports car with the use of cutting-edge motorsport and aviation technology to deliver a stunning, two-seat enthusiast driving machine”.

Only 88 will be hand-built to order, and while no price has been released, it is understood that each car will cost from at least £750,000.

Source: AutoCar.co.uk

Top 10 best super GTs 2019

The Mercedes-AMG S63 Coupé, then, is a car with all of Mercedes’ semi-autonomous active lane keeping, speed limit and braking assistance systems, with the latest onboard connectivity and digital concierge systems and with Mercedes’ Magic Body Control camera-based active hydraulic suspension that scans the surface of the road ahead and prepares the suspension specifically for the bumps it’s about to encounter.

AMG’s 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 supplies the S63 with every bit as much power and torque and it needs, and the suspension strikes a clever compromise between isolation and driver engagement that does just enough to keep you interested in the driving experience but also makes the car feel superbly refined and long-legged.

Save money with new S-Class Coupé deals from What Car?

9. McLaren GT

McLaren’s new GT really seems to have put the ‘super’ back into the Super GT class. On the face value, the GT seems to have more in common with a supercar than an elegant grand tourer, what with its carbon tub and mid-engined, strictly two-seater layout. But with the lines between vehicle classes becoming increasingly blurred across the entire industry, it doesn’t seem totally surprising that we now have a McLaren that can supposedly mix it with the likes of Bentleys and Aston Martins. 

Of course, McLaren pulled a similar trick with the excellent 570GT. But where that car was an adaptation of an existing model, the GT is its own standalone model. So you get even greater storage space, a more lavishly finished cabin, and a slightly softer suspension tune. Its 4.0-litre engine is also down on power compared to that of the 720S, but 612bhp and 465lb ft ensures the GT is still startlingly quick in a straight line.

It’s a peach on challenging roads too – incisive and agile with feelsome, precise steering. In fact, if driving pleasure is at the very top of your list of requirements, this could be the GT car for you.

There is a compromise, though. As comfy as it is by McLaren standards (and these standards are very high indeed), next to the Aston Martins and Bentleys that sit at the top of this class, the McLaren doesn’t quite compete for genuine long-legged touring ability. 

A full road test will deliver the final verdict imminently, but based on our early first drives the McLaren GT isn’t quite as convincing as its cheaper 570GT sibling.

Save money with new McLaren deals from What Car? 

Source: AutoCar.co.uk