Aston Martin DBX 707 prototype 2022 review – a match for the Lamborghini Urus?

The new Aston Martin DBX 707 boasts a substantial boost in performance over the ordinary car, and we’ve driven a prototype

Once was the time when it was unthinkable for an SUV to challenge a hot hatch down a B-road, but the original ‘955’ Porsche Cayenne Turbo changed all that. But for all the advancements made in performance SUVs over the subsequent two decades, the idea that you could drift one around the place like a powerful rear-wheel drive sports car still seemed ludicrous and far-fetched. The recent Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT changed all that, as we found out at Bedford Autodrome recently, but from where I’m sitting right now, behind the wheel of this new DBX 707, Aston Martin may have just taken things a step further. Turn in. Plant your right foot. Wind on the opposite lock. Leave black lines. This really shouldn’t be possible in a 2.3 ton SUV…

‘Is there actually any point to it all’, may or may not be a question you’re now asking, and it’s a very relevant question, but for now let’s take a closer look at the new 707. The name, of course, is a nod to the amount of horsepower that’s being produced under the bonnet, and you get the feeling that there’s nothing Aston boss Tobias Moers loves more than maximum horsepower. So the firm has fitted larger turbochargers to the familiar AMG ‘hot vee’ V8 engine, now of the ball bearing type, to give it the full 697bhp (707hp in metric), a startling increase on the regular DBX’s 542bhp. Torque has also risen, from 516lb ft to 663lb ft,  which should be very useful, while the engine is now hooked up to a nine-speed wet clutch box, not the usual torque converter auto, and there’s a lower final drive ratio to boost acceleration as well. 

> Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT 2021 review – can it take on the Aston Martin DBX707?

In fact, the more you look at the 707, the more it’s clear that this is a comprehensive makeover not just for this high performance variant, but also the beginning of a substantial evolution of the DBX. For now, Aston Martin has to continue using the outdated Mercedes infotainment setup, but more importantly there’s a new rotary control switch for driver modes that’s far more intuitive to use than the old button system. There are new sports seats, too, plus soft closing doors and an electrical tow bar (the latter two coming to all DBX models).

Under the skin, a lot of attention has been paid to the chassis, and Moers makes no apology for adapting the DBX more to his dynamic tastes. A front undertray and brace add 10% to the lateral stiffness, there are much stiffer damper top mounts and new suspension bushes to increase the impact control of the suspension, and the dampers are re-tuned - Aston has gone through 90 sets apparently, trying to find the perfect compromise, and worked hard on the adaptive damping software, too. They’ve also worked extensively on the electric roll control setup, stiffening the DBX at the front on the way into a corner and then moving that towards the rear as the curve continues. The transfer case for the four-wheel drive system has also been re-tuned for a smoother handover as it shuffles the torque between axles, and as you can imagine, there’s been plenty of work on the ESP software to give the car a freer nature. Brakes are now 420mm front/390mm rear carbon ceramic discs. 

It’s not hard to spot a 707 either, where a much broader front grille provides an 80% improvement in airflow to the new cooling arrangement. The rest of the aero work, including a new rear diffuser, is about reducing drag - of which you can imagine the 707 has plenty of. Yes, all in, it’s a monster of a machine. 

What’s it like to drive? Well, so far we’ve only experienced it during a handful of laps around Aston Martin’s Silverstone Stowe circuit test track. However, a few things are obvious: one, that it is extraordinarily accelerative for such a large vehicle, with a sweet V8 tone and a massive punch in the back as the boost really takes hold. It also has a tighter, more performance-orientated feel to its ride and responses, and while it would be impossible to make too many judgements on its road refinement and manners based on an old piece of race track, it didn’t feel like it would be uncomfortable on the road. Hit a bump or ridge and the 707 deals with it promptly, and with little fuss. It feels remarkably deft on corner turn-in and then there’s that oversteer, which the 707 will do seemingly at every opportunity if you’ve disabled the traction control and ESP. What’s more surprising than its will to loosen the tail is that this isn’t a fleeting snatch of oversteer, abruptly then pulled straight by a four-wheel drive system; once you’ve got the 707 sliding you can keep it there and play with the throttle to adjust your angle. Driving something akin to a block of flats with afterburners attached is a surreal experience…

The development of the DBX 707 is a bold product strategy from Aston Martin, subtly leaving to one side the DBX’s gentler, more style-founded characteristics for something that goes wheel to wheel with indecently rapid, brash vehicles like the Lamborghini Urus and high-end Porsche Cayennes of this world. Based on this first taster, the DBX 707 is more than capable of holding its own.

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