Aston Martin has commenced prototype testing of its upcoming DBX, which is set to be the marque’s first-ever SUV model. As reported previously, the DBX will be launched in the fourth quarter of 2019, where it will compete against other premium SUVs from Porsche, Maserati and others.

According to the Gaydon-based carmaker, the first development prototype seen here was subjected to a demanding Welsh Rally stage with the company’s chief engineer, Matt Becker, behind the wheel. The first test is just the start of an extensive testing programme, and was held in Wales as a nod to Aston Martin’s new St Athan production facility in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Many other test mules will find their way to other parts of the world to be tormented in the harshest of environments, from the frozen Arctic and scorching deserts of the Middle East to high Alpine passes and the high-speed demands of the German autobahn and Nürburgring Nordschleife.

The DBX was first previewed by similarly-named concept more than three years ago, and while the show car was rather striking and appealing, the design seen on this prototype might be a beacon for controversy – argue it out below if you have to.

For instance, where the concept featured two doors, there are four of them here, which is likely necessary in the name of practicality. Cues like the sculpted bonnet, slim headlamps and trademark Aston Martin grille are derived from the concept.

Moving on, the addition of more doors results in a redesign of the roofline, which is no longer as steeply raked as previewed. Instead, it gently tapers towards a roof-mounted spoiler and a stubby rear end. At back, the concept’s horizontal taillights are replaced with what looks like vertical units, while the tailgate is more conventional and as the doors suggest, are more practical to use as well.

Aston Martin Lagonda president and group chief executive officer, Andy Palmer said, “seeing a DBX development prototype in action is a momentous chapter in the story of our first SUV, for it is the moment it really comes alive. DBX is so much more than ‘just’ an SUV; it will be the first model built at our brand-new facility in St Athan. As such, it is very much the start of a bold new era in the company’s long history.”