Not even the wild and stormy weather sweeping across the Middle East could stop the international synchronisation for the regional launch of Aston Martin's first SUV, the DBX, which was five years in the making. Possibly the most important model in the company's 106-year history, as it forms the basis for the line-up of Aston's future electric vehicle models, the DBX was unveiled at the same time in its four most important markets: the Middle East, China, the US and its home in the UK.
An open-air reveal under the stars in Muscat last month was scuttled with minutes to spare as the clouds gathered and heavy rain lashed the region, moving the event indoors. But like all good things, the show went on.
Andy Palmer, president and group chief executive of Aston Martin, was in China for the reveal in what will be the car's most important market, while key representatives unveiled the DBX at events in the US, Wales and Oman. China, the US and the Middle East will soak up the lion's share of global sales, while Aston says the UK will not be a major influence, at least initially, in terms of volume. However, the DBX will be manufactured in a factory in St Athan, Wales, a move that provides a much-needed boost to employment in the UK's manufacturing sector.
Priced at Dh848,000, the DBX is on sale now, with the first deliveries scheduled to begin in the second quarter of next year. While it's powered by a twin-turbocharged, four-litre V8, the platform will be used for the company's move into EV production from 2025.
For now, though, the DBX emits a throaty bark from its 542-brake horsepower, AMG-sourced engine that features upgraded turbochargers and charge coolers, along with a revised compression ratio. It runs through a nine-speed automatic transmission linked to an all-wheel drive system, featuring an active central differential and an E-Diff electronic limited slip rear differential. This allows torque to be moved both fore and aft, as well as across the rear axle.
Drive impressions will come later, but Aston assures us the DBX will reach 100 kilometres per hour in 4.3 seconds, rising to a top speed of 291kph, with the Lamborghini Urus and Bentley Bentayga used as the DBX's primary benchmarks during development.
Significantly, the DBX has not been squeezed on to an existing chassis from Aston's range, as the team started from a blank sheet of paper. This means proportions and dimensions were not compromised in its construction. The result is a genuine five-seater with enough leg and head room for three tall adults in the back and 632 litres of luggage space, as well as good visibility all round.
"I can't emphasise enough how incredibly exciting and significant the DBX is for Aston Martin," Palmer said at the reveal in Beijing. "DBX marks a key moment, signalling the start of production at Aston Martin's second manufacturing plant."
Oman was chosen as the venue for the Middle East event to also acknowledge the European success of the Oman Racing Team, which includes Omani driver Ahmad Al Harthy. He is one of the region's shining lights in global saloon car racing, driving the Aston Martin Vantage GT3 to Pro-Am class success at the Blancpain Endurance Cup this year, having also won the event in 2017.
“It’s been an honour to be a part of the Aston Martin family and I felt a great sense of pride to bring them success on the track this year,” Al Harthy said at the event in Muscat. “It shows great faith in Aston Martin to not only support a team like ours, but also to choose our region, the Middle East, as one of the launch territories for such an important car.”
As demands in the premium SUV category rise, so to do the available options, with Aston going beyond the usual leather, timber and polished alloy look inside by adding a few extras for that other important member of most families: the dog. The DBX pet package includes, among other things, a portable washer to help attend to the needs of a muddy pooch after a walk. Alternatively, the snow package for cold climates will deliver boot warmers to make a ski trip more pleasurable, while other bespoke options are in the pipeline specifically for the Middle East.
The premium end of the SUV market is one of the most competitive and lucrative, with Bentley, Porsche, Maserati and even Rolls-Royce joining the pack. You can now add Aston Martin to that growing list.