When did the utility vehicle become the sports utility vehicle? Let’s say roughly two decades ago, but whatever the year zero, it represents arguably the key paradigm shift in the higher echelons of the automotive world. Customers loved the commanding driving position, the promise of being able to go pretty much anywhere, even if they never actually did, and the sheer presence something of this size and fortitude delivers.
The DBX vividly demonstrates that full-blooded dynamics don’t have to be sacrificed on the altar of extra mass. This was a comprehensive reset for the fast, luxury SUV. Now the new Aston Martin DBX707 alters the co-ordinates and pushes the parameters yet further.
“From its introduction, the DBX has represented Aston Martin’s dynamic and design values in a way that proves not all SUVs have to conform to the same compromises,” Aston Martin’s CEO Tobias Moers says. “With the DBX707 we have pushed the boundaries in every area to create a car that sets new standards of performance and desirability. The fastest, most powerful and most engaging car of its kind, it propels Aston Martin to the pinnacle of SUV performance.”
The DBX707 is a textbook example of what happens when you turn up the dial on something that’s already pretty damn cool. Every area of the car has been enhanced to increase performance, intensify driving pleasure, and amplify on-road presence. Let’s start with the powertrain. The DBX’s 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 is both a magnificently charismatic and clever engine, but there’s always more that can be done. New for the DBX707 are ball bearing turbochargers and more potent calibration, measures designed to extract extra power and torque. Power is up by 157PS to — and you might have guessed this already — 707PS, torque increased by 200Nm to a thumping 900Nm. That’s a lot of grunt, and it has necessitated other key alterations: the new car receives a nine-speed wet clutch automatic transmission instead of the regular torque converter.
“We were after super-crisp response and precision,” says Drummond Jacoy, Head of Vehicle Engineering and Procurement. “In terms of pulling away, using a wet clutch gives us that slam of power in the first few metres. It’s not just about the time the actual gearshifts take, it’s about the vividness of the response. Although a torque converter is very good, you can’t build revs from a standing start in the same way.”
The DBX707 also gains a revised version of the car’s electronic limited-slip differential. It has been reinforced to cope with the extra torque, while a shorter final drive ratio sharpens in-gear response and speeds things up even further, particularly in the lower gears — but not at the expense of the DBX’s supremely comfortable cruising capability or overall efficiency.
Torque distribution front-to-rear is done automatically and, if the conditions permit, 100% of the available torque can be sent to the rear axle. This is a configuration that obviously mirrors the traditional sports car set-up, and it’s the one savoured by the keenest drivers. The DBX uses triple-volume air chambers in its suspension, but for the 707 there’s new damper valving and the spring volume has been altered to optimise body control. The power steering has also been recalibrated to deliver extra weight off-centre, providing the driver with even more clarity about what’s happening at the front end as cornering loads increase. The car’s active roll system has also been tweaked, and all those things that can disturb a car in motion — heave, pitch, and roll — have been further checked without compromising the ride quality.
In other words, while the DBX is bigger and weighs more than its stablemates, the e-diff and this chassis wizardry ensure that it has remarkably similar handling smarts and agility. Interestingly, Aston Martin says that the changes enable the driver to adjust the yaw — basically any movement away from the car’s centre of gravity — with natural pedal or steering inputs. Revised software in the all-wheel-drive system’s transfer case makes the behaviour of the driveline with the ESP system, which guards against loss of traction, even less intrusive than before. To sum up: the DBX707 feels like a smaller and more overtly sporting car.
“The DBX has always been very throttle adjustable. What we’ve put a huge amount of effort into is the driving dynamics brain,” Jacoy continues. “We use an integrated vehicle control unit and we’ve taken it to an even higher level. The hardware was actually being underutilised, now it’s working fully to get to that real sweet spot. We also looked at body control, there are new braces on the front under frame and we’ve changed the top mount on the front suspension. Once you’ve optimised the body control you can use all the other systems at your disposal, the variable damping, and the triple-chamber
air suspension, across the different drive modes."
Of course, all this power and potential is only one part of the kinetic story; stopping is as important an element as going. The DBX707 has carbon ceramic brakes (CCBs) as standard, measuring an incredible 420mm at the front and 390mm at the rear, gripped by six-piston calipers. This makes them the biggest diameter discs fitted to any production car. As well as being hugely powerful, CCBs also have another important benefit: the car’s unsprung weight has been reduced by 40.5kg. Pedal feel and response have also been improved, and there’s enhanced cooling thanks to an additional underfloor air intake. A 22in wheel is standard, with a 23in rim available in textured black or satin black with diamond turned highlights.
Which brings us to the DBX707’s exterior makeover. Chief Creative Officer Marek Reichman says, “When you are the alpha SUV you don’t have to try too hard, therefore we concentrated on those areas of the design that would make the DBX707 instantly recognisable as the highest performing model. The result is a design that exudes potency while retaining our commitment to pure lines and perfect proportions.”
This story is an extract from an article featured in the AM50 issue of Aston Martin magazine, out now. If you're not already a subscriber, visit magazine.astonmartin.com/magazine-subscription so that you can read the full story.