Aston Martin DBX 707 first drive review
The Aston Martin DBX is one quick car I'm told. I wouldn't know, because I never drove it in its standard avatar. It's been eluding me for years now - much like most Aston Martins that usually shy away from the glitz and glamour because the typical owners of Aston Martin cars prefer to keep their refined taste a private affair. But the DBX 707 is different. It wants to be seen, wants to be heard because it is the fastest and most powerful of its kind - at least until the newest and tallest steed from Maranello starts prancing. But the 707 isn't one bit as aggressive as its Italian friends.
'Minimalism' isn't an adjective one would use to describe the design of a supersport utility vehicle that has carbonfibre bits sticking out like scutes from the otherwise simple bodywork. But in the company of cars like the Lamborghini Urus, cars like the DBX will often be considered minimalist. The smooth curves and the hunchback also make the DBX appear smaller than its class, more so in the images. But look at the 707 from any angle, rolling on its (standard) 23-inch rims at any speed, and you know it means business. The carbonfibre skirts along the rocker panels, the bigger grille, and the extended spoiler and splitter, will all tell you that this is the faster sibling. But all of this is within the bounds of typical Aston Martin elegance.
If you still have the compulsive need to announce to the world what it is, the 707 has a trick called the "Loud Start". Holding down the brake and pulling in either of the paddle shifters will make the push button starter (one of 22 switches inside the car) pulsate in bright red. Thumb it and the engine comes to life with a roar. Though this M177 V8 is an AMG powerplant, it is inspected and signed off by an Aston Martin engineer. I wonder what that inspection involves.
But what's more important is that the engine was tuned under the watch of the head of powertrain engineering at Aston Martin, Ralph Illenberger. Not to be confused with the Grammy-nominated German guitarist, this Ralph Illenberger is an ex-AMG engineer who knows this engine down to the nuts and bolts and also knows how to make this engine sing and talk differently than the other applications we have driven in AMGs. Simply put, the German V8 is pushed to its limits on the 707, but speaks with British mannerisms, greeting the onlooker with a deep, warm voice, instead of speaking to them in a rude, high pitch.
The engine runs different turbochargers and an induction system that helps boost the power to 707PS, which ultimately gives this variant its name. This output also gave the DBX 707 the bragging rights of being the most powerful supersport UV out there, albeit for short while. The tall steed of Maranello I referred to earlier is the Ferrari Purosangue, which has recently snatched that claim with its 725PS output. But until I get a chance to drive one of them, the DBX 707 will remain the fastest and most powerful supersport UV I have driven - and simply put, it is bonkers!
The acceleration is brutal and even the minute pauses of the super quick transmission create head nods - which makes the acceleration a lot more dramatic than even the track focussed Vantage F1 we drove recently. Out on the road, you will seldom find enough space and time to really let this car flex its muscles. It demands open highways or secluded mountain roads - and ones that are wide enough to accommodate a (predominantly) rear-wheel-driven athlete like this one. It is better off on the race track, but it is plenty of fun on the road too. As you would expect there is a Race Launch control too, which will catapult this car from nought to 100 in 3.3s, on its way to a top speed of 310kmph. Even the back straight of the Buddh International Circuit will fall short for that top whack! New carbon ceramic brakes drop the anchor much faster and despite being larger than the cast iron rotors on the standard DBX, still saves 40kgs!
To match the performance of the engine, the powertrain uses the 9-speed wet clutch gearbox like the AMG GT 4-door and to ensure that the power can seamlessly transition into fun, the DBX has the trickery of suspension and anti-roll bars that utilise quick 48V electronics. The ride is quite firm even with the softer GT (default) setting and the Sport and Sport+ modes only make it stiffer - more so with the 23-inch rims. The anti-roll bars ensure a flat ride through the corners even as the speeds rise and it all comes together to create a performance so enticing that you will want to take the DBX 707 to the track often and even give some low-riding sports cars a run for their money, overtaking as you look down on them from your high chair and disappear from their aperture as the needle races past 6,000rpm. It's a feeling very few cars offer, at least right now.
But these are times when what one shows to the world is more important than what it makes you feel. Does the DBX's understated elegance work in such times? I'm sure it does. Elegance is timeless. Many still appreciate feel over specs, and the DBX 707 has both.
Starts Rs 3 Crore