X marks the spot
Aston Martin – a name more closely associated with sleek sports cars – has revealed its very first SUV: the DBX. And Pirelli has come up with not just one, but three types of tyres for it.
The DBX is the culmination of an extensive development programme, which began with virtual development stretching back in 2015 before physical testing took place in Wales last year. And it signals a new era in Aston Martin’s stated mission to deliver exceptional performance, style and usability, in a segment previously unexplored by the world-famous British manufacturer.
The fact that testing took place in Wales is no co-incidence. The DBX is set to be built in Aston Martin’s brand-new purpose-built manufacturing facility in St Athan, Wales, on the site of a former military base.
And the car breaks new ground in another way as well, because it doesn't have just one kind of Pirelli tyre to go with it, but three.
The P Zero for the DBX – the default fitment – has been developed to offer the best possible performance and handling on the road, the Scorpion Zero AS to go off-road, and the Scorpion Winter to deliver the same levels of performance in cold weather.
From hot to cold
Creating these bespoke tyres takes about as long as creating the actual car, because the development programme takes place in tandem with it. Making tyres to specifically suit each car is known as Pirelli’s ‘perfect fit’ strategy: a bit like a collection of Savile Row suits that are perfectly tailored to fit the latest Aston Martin.
The process began with laboratory testing before moving onto outdoor testing in different conditions. The wet weather capabilities of the Pirelli tyres for the new Aston Martin DBX were refined at Pirelli’s test track in Vizzola near Milan, while tyre performance on ice and snow was honed at the company’s winter test facility at Fleurheden in Sweden. Outright performance was developed at the famous high speed Nardo circuit in southern Italy, the scene of so many historic record attempts.
The final validation came at the epic Nürburgring Nordschleife in Germany, which is always the ultimate test for any car and tyre package. In total, the DBX completed around 8000 kilometres of flat-out driving around the Nordschleife, while another test venue included the slippery Walter’s Arena special stage of the Rally Great Britain.
What goes into the DBX?
Utilising bonded aluminium, the body structure is both very light and incredibly stiff, with an overall weight of 2245 kilograms that makes the driving experience extremely sharp.
Right from the start, DBX was designed to allow maximum room in the cabin, putting a premium on refinement, with class-leading spaciousness.
There’s air suspension and electronic adaptive dampers, which means that the DBX can be easily raised or lowered, helping to load luggage as well as traverse challenging terrain, or wade through water to the depth of 500 millimetres.
The DBX appears to do the seemingly impossible: offering all the practicality of an SUV, matched with the character of a sports car. The engine is a new version of the distinctive 4-litre, twin-turbocharged V8 engine found in the DB11 and Vantage, putting out an impressive 550 horsepower. That’s enough for a top speed that’s a shade over 291kph.
It’s a landmark car for Aston Martin – the most capable they have ever made – and you can spot the bespoke Pirelli tyres made for it courtesy of a special A8A marking on the sidewall.
A unique design
An SUV, by definition is meant to be a practical car. But one of the priorities for Aston Martin was to ensure that the practicality of the DBX did not compromise the aesthetics of the design. What all Aston Martins have in common is that they are objects of beauty.
Ensuring that this always happens is the responsibility of Aston Martin’s well-known Chief Creative Officer, Marek Reichmann.
“DBX is an SUV that does not compromise beauty or performance for practicality or usability,” explains Reichmann. “It has been designed to deliver on the proportions that meet the criteria for beauty that we would always apply to the form language of any Aston Martin. It has been created to be elegant, purposeful and unique in its uncompromising beauty.”
What's even more important though is the way that it goes. And from behind the wheel, the DBX delivers an extraordinary depth of ability, with seemingly endless amounts of grip on offer. Thanks also to its special Pirelli tyres.