Aston Martin DBX SUV launched in Malaysia – 4.0L biturbo V8 with 550 PS and 700 Nm, RM818k before tax

Having made its global debut just under a year ago, the Aston Martin DBX has now been launched in Malaysia. Built at a new plant in St Athan, Wales, it joins a hotly-contested luxury SUV market that also features the Lamborghini Urus and Bentley Bentayga, among others.

Firstly, let’s talk about the price – the DBX retails at RM818,000 before options, taxes and on-the-road costs. That’s a little bit higher than what was promised last year, but the company says that the production units feature several quality improvements that have driven up the price.

The car is also a fair bit more expensive than the facelifted Bentayga that was introduced yesterday, although the Aston has a higher level of standard equipment (the Bentayga First Edition, which comes with more kit, is pricier than the DBX). Most importantly, it is significantly less costly than the million-ringgit Urus.

Unlike most competitors, the DBX has been built from the ground up as an Aston Martin, riding on a bespoke platform and utilising the tried-and-tested bonded aluminium construction process. This allows Gaydon to tailor the packaging to suit its requirements in terms of design, interior space, functionality and performance – and no doubt go a long way towards assuaging brand fanatics that an SUV can be a real Aston.

Aston Martin DBX SUV launched in Malaysia – 4.0L biturbo V8 with 550 PS and 700 Nm, RM818k before tax

The DBX also maintains the company’s characteristic styling cues, including a curvaceous design, a massive grille (the largest ever fitted to an Aston, apparently), almond-shaped headlights, metallic side strakes, a Vantage-esque ducktail (with full-width tail lights) and a pleasing body-to-glasshouse ratio. Flush door handles, hidden window seals and a glass B-pillar cover give it a clean concept car-like side surface.

The company paid close attention to the car’s aerodynamics, incorporating features such as ducted LED daytime running lights, large front fender “curlicue” vents and a slotted tailgate spoiler to allow air to flow onto the rear windscreen. The latter not only keeps the glass clear of raindrops without the use of an unsightly wiper, but also works the rear ducktail.

Measuring 5,039 mm long, 1,998 mm wide and 1,680 mm tall, the DBX is longer than a Porsche Cayenne but shorter than both the Bentayga and Urus. Its wheelbase, however, is the longest of the lot at 3,060 mm – shorter only than the massive Rolls-Royce Cullinan.

Step inside – noting as you climb in that the doors protect the sills to prevent you from staining your couture dress or Italian tailored suit – and you’ll find a cocooned cockpit-like environment. The standard full-length panoramic glass roof opens up the cabin up to some light; if you want to keep it dark, you can specify the car with an Alcantara-trimmed powered roof blind, a first for the industry.

Aston Martin DBX SUV launched in Malaysia – 4.0L biturbo V8 with 550 PS and 700 Nm, RM818k before tax

Running across the centre is a floating centre console bridge, under which you’ll find some flexible storage space. Along the sides, the decorative trim can be customised in a whole range of finishes, including solid wood and a flax composite that is a distinctive alternative to carbon fibre. The seats, meanwhile, are upholstered in full-grain leather from longtime Aston partner Bridge of Weir.

The technology is derived from its partnership with Mercedes-AMG and includes a 10.25-inch infotainment screen – sitting above the air vents and below the push-button transmission controls – and a 12.3-inch instrument display. You’ll even find dual-zone, 64-colour ambient lighting that will be familiar to owners of the Three-pointed Star. Apple CarPlay connectivity and a 360-degree camera system come standard.

Aston says that despite the middling dimensions, the long wheelbase allows for class-leading head- and legroom at the front and rear. The slim front seats (which come with 12-way power adjustment as standard) and the minimised gap between the glass roof and sun blind free up useful interior space.

Given that this is supposed to be a family car, ergonomics was also a key area in development. The interior is designed to accommodate both a 99th percentile man and a fifth percentile woman, and the separate central armrests, glovebox design and the positioning of the car’s key control systems were guided by dealership feedback, private global focus groups and Aston’s own Female Advisory Board. A car for everyone, then.

Open the tailgate and you’ll find 632 litres of boot space, and you can fold the 40:20:40-split rear seats to stow even more luggage; a hard tonneau cover, which can be removed and stowed behind the seats, adds some sound insulation.

Standard equipment includes Caithness full-grain leather upholstery, piano black interior trim, Alcantara headlining, keyless entry, push-button start, triple-zone climate control, a 360-degree camera system and a 14-speaker, 800-watt sound system.

Safety-wise, the DBX comes with autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, automatic high beam, six airbags and stability control. There will also be a range of option packages offered, such as a Pet package that includes a portable washer for cleaning your furry friends.

Underneath all the metal and wood and leather sits AMG’s M177 4.0 litre twin-turbocharged V8. This latest iteration produces more power than in the Vantage and DB11 – 550 PS and 700 Nm of torque, to be exact – and it features cylinder deactivation for improved fuel economy. So equipped, the DBX will get from zero to 100 km/h in 4.5 seconds on its way to a top speed of 291 km/h.

Aston Martin DBX SUV launched in Malaysia – 4.0L biturbo V8 with 550 PS and 700 Nm, RM818k before tax

Interestingly, the DBX doesn’t utilise the ZF eight-speed automatic transmission found in other models, where it functions as a rear transaxle. Instead, it uses Mercedes’ nine-speed 9G-Tronic auto running directly off the engine, and that’s because it has all-wheel drive – sitting aft of the gearbox is a variable transfer case that sends up to 47% of torque to the front wheels, and there’s also an electronic differential at the rear.

Suspension consists of triple-chamber air springs all around as standard, complete with 48-volt electric anti-roll control. The car can be raised (by 45 mm) or lowered (by 50 mm) and exert up to 1,400 Nm of force on each axle to correct the rolling tendencies of a taller vehicle.

Aston says that the system provides responsive and engaging handling on the road, as well as the ability to tackle a variety of terrain off it. The use of bonded aluminium is also claimed to provide a stiff structure and keep weight down to a still hefty 2,245 kg.

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