As I get my first glimpse of the Aston Martin DBX707, my colleague Richard is watching Jenson Button unveil the Lotus Eletre. Both vehicles are luxurious super-SUVs from British brands usually associated with sports cars, but there the similarities end. Because while the Lotus is powered by batteries and electric motors, the Aston has a glorious old-school V8. I know where I’d rather be.
In truth, I’ve already drawn the long straw, as the DBX707 launch takes place in sunny Sardinia, while Richard has settled for drizzly Shepherd’s Bush.
Ironically, the glamorous Hotel Cala di Volpe where we’re staying has a Lotus connection, as James Bond (the ludicrously suave Roger Moore) visits there in his aquatic Esprit in The Spy Who Loved Me. But I digress…
The world’s most powerful SUV
The £190,000 DBX707 is billed as the world’s most powerful SUV, a rival for the Bentley Bentayga Speed, Lamborghini Urus and forthcoming Ferrari Purosangue. Not to mention the Eletre, of course.
True to its name, the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 produces 707hp, along with a stonking 663lb ft of torque: increases of 157hp and 147lb ft over the £168,300 DBX. Use the Race Start function and this five-seat family holdall rips to 62mph in 3.3 seconds and 193mph. The Bentayga and Urus only manage a paltry 190mph.
New hardware for the ‘707’ includes a wet-clutch transmission for 40 percent quicker shifts, a retuned rear e-differential and standard carbon-ceramic brakes that save 40.5kg in unsprung weight.
Total mass is 2,245kg (split almost evenly at 52:48 front-to-rear), which helps deliver fuel consumption and CO2 emissions identical to the regular DBX. Figures of 19.9mpg and 323g/km are hardly worth celebrating, though.
Sound and the fury
While the likes of Lamborghini and Porsche have struggled to graft sports car styling tropes onto SUVs, Aston Martin’s Marek Reichman has done a far better job. The DBX707 bristles with aggressive intent, but its fulsome curves and coupe-like profile downplay its sheer size.
A broader grille emphasises the rakish ‘shark nose’, and the rear is framed by a new roof spoiler and double diffuser. Go for vivid ‘F1 Green’ paint – as seen on Sebastian Vettel’s 2022 company car – if you dare.
Starting on our six-hour loop around Sardinia, we trace the coast before spearing inland towards the mountains – and the first of several long tunnels. I can’t resist: all four windows down, I knock it into second gear, then gun the engine.
The DBX fills its lungs with a blood-and-thunder roar and explodes towards the tiny circle of daylight in the distance, the distended detonations from its oval tailpipes ricocheting off the concrete walls. The electric Lotus may accelerate even quicker, but it won’t sound anything like this.
Spaghetti and sledgehammers
The new AMG-sourced transmission is key to the DBX707’s added urgency. Where the torque converter ’box of the standard car might hesitate to kick down, this setup is fiercely focused, with whipcrack shifts via the long metal paddles. And when you aren’t doing your best Vettel impression on amazing roads, it’s smooth and GT-like in automatic mode, too.
Ah yes, the roads – like strands of cooked spaghetti tossed across the jagged terrain. When the Romans built their famously straight viarum, they obviously didn’t get to Sardinia. Here, the DBX’s quick steering, pliant air suspension and electronic anti-roll system provide an organic feel and confidence-inspiring precision; Aston calls it ‘a sabre in a segment of sledgehammers’.
That said, the option to loosen the stability control and smudge the rear tyres wide is always there. With 707hp on tap, how could it not be?
The ultimate SUV
Expected to account for 60-65 percent of DBX sales, the 707 is brilliantly bombastic, yet sacrifices none of its sibling’s everyday civility.
Along with the Aston Martin V12 Vantage (due soon, and potentially the most exciting supercar of 2022), it’s a 21-gun salute to the internal combustion era. And for now, at least, the ultimate SUV.
Tim Pitt writes for Motoring Research
TOP SPEED: 193mph
FUEL ECONOMY: 19.9mpg
CO2 EMISSIONS: 323g/km