2022 Aston Martin DBX707 Review: Phillip Island Drive

2022 Aston Martin DBX707 Review: Phillip Island Drive

7.5

Safety, value and features

Things we like

  • Sharp steering
  • Ultra refined noise cancellation
  • Torque, torque, more torque
  • Plastic chassis

Not so much

  • Rigid suspension tuning in the GT
  • It can easily beat the tires
  • Wow, that’s a lot of weight
  • Ergonomic cabin features

ANDAustralia’s fastest permanent racetrack and a 700bhp SUV might seem like strange bedfellows on paper. Let me tell you from heartbreaking experience that Aston Martin DBX707 and the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit are certainly an odd pair.

I don’t really have time to think about it at the moment as I hurtle down the Gardner Straight, the windshield wipers reflecting the lazy raindrops that continue to fall, the speed clicking two hundred and forty bloody-hell-that-corner-is-approaching-quick mph.

Unsurprisingly, the DBX707 is a rocket ship in a straight line, with this 2.2-tonne hulk adding pace in eye-opening fashion. As it should be, with a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 under the bonnet producing 520kW and 900Nm.

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Those are figures usually reserved for the top end of the super sports car field, but here they take the form of a large, coupe-inspired SUV body roll.

Added to the DBX range to serve as the flagship, the 707 is likely to be the most popular variant in the two-car line-up. As a boon to Aston Martin’s bottom line, customers will pay the price for a 115kW/200Nm power boost, with Australian customers having to put $428,400 on the table for the privilege of owning a DBX707 – and that’s before options and on-roads are factored in, of course.

But it’s not just more power and an extra $53,702 added to the purchase price that sets the 707 apart from the standard DBX.

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The flagship model gets an electronic limited-slip rear differential, a choice of either 22- or 23-inch wheels as standard (where the regular DBX only gets 22s), carbon-ceramic brakes, retuned air suspension, improved steering calibration, updated active stabilizer settings, launch system control, den exterior style, redesigned center console and finally 16-way electrically adjustable sports seats for both front passengers.

A nine-speed “wet” multi-clutch automatic transmission is responsible for transferring power from the charismatic V8 to all four wheels, while Pirelli P Zero rubber is in charge of getting everything to the ground. Shame on Pirelli as they stacked up so much against them, especially during our short test on the road and track, which were marred by late winter storms typical of Melbourne’s south-east.

Ahead of the on-track action, we took the DBX707 out of the gates of Australia’s fastest permanent race circuit and onto the open road. While our route wasn’t particularly driver-friendly, it provided important insights into the character of this hyper SUV.

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What impressed us the most on the road was the refinement of the cabin. The route was familiar Wheels, which is a regular transit stage of our annual South Gippsland Car of the Year awards. It’s memorable for an obvious reason – the horribly coarse chips that make up most of the road surface.

The impressive footprint that helps the DBX707 get its power to the ground has us thinking the tire roar will be considerable. Quite the contrary, the cabin remains impressively quiet even on some terrible roads.

Under load the V8 became pleasantly loud without being insolent, but at cruising speeds it remained completely muted and at 1500rpm. seemingly every time we looked at the tach, regardless of speed. Wind noise has also been nicely suppressed, giving the DBX707 an impressive tour de force.

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If you demand the ultimate in refinement from your hyper SUV, and you should, the DBX707 more than delivers.

That plushness hits a slight snag with the ride and damping. Given the sheer performance of the DBX707, it’s clear that it will have a muscular character, but the suspension tuning goes too far in our reckoning.

Even at reasonable public road speeds in the standard ‘GT’ driving mode, the suspension works hard to keep the DBX707’s weight down. It does this by maintaining a firm damper setup that never seems to be able to breathe over the bumps and bumps in the road. Aston Martin has managed to keep the DBX707 from feeling rambunctious, but the ride is boisterous on anything but a smooth freeway.

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On the flip side, body control, especially during cornering, is exemplary for a vehicle of this size. Leaning is minimal, with the DBX707 maintaining impressive composure through bends.

Inside, the cabin is filled with generous portions of lush leather, but we discovered some ergonomic quirks that we felt spoiled the driving experience. The first is the fact that the engine start/stop button and gear selector are mounted on the dashboard.

I am of above average height and reach, yet it was hard to squeeze them. Then there’s the central rotator and touchpad combination that controls the infotainment. It’s an efficient, if not very good-looking solution to central screen navigation, but it’s instantly identifiable as a generation-old Mercedes-Benz part.

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We don’t have a problem with the user experience – on the contrary, the system is easy to key in and use on the fly – but the borrowed component does hurt the DBX’s considerable price a bit.

Aston Martin likes to claim it’s the world’s most powerful SUV, and up until the time I came to write this review, it was well within its rights to claim that crown. Dodge recently announced that its deranged Durango SRT is returning to production to give the venerable Hellcat engine a boost, which means the Brits get three measly horsepower for the title.

Plus, those three ponies won’t make a difference today as Phillip Island’s surface is notoriously grippy in these freezing and wet conditions.

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The limits of the DBX707’s dynamic capabilities and the finer details of high-speed grip are certainly to be found, but we won’t reveal them today. Instead, we have a good understanding of its all-weather acceleration capabilities, impressive body control, reassuring brakes and genre-defying handling.

But the real centerpiece of the DBX707 is the engine, which has former Aston Martin CEO Tobias Moers’ fingerprints all over it. The 4.0-liter V8 is the Mercedes-AMG M178, which was developed by Moers when he was the leader of the German performance brand.

In fact, the DBX707 is where the M178 produces the most power, surpassing its own AMG applications. To achieve this, the V8 received new ball-bearing turbochargers as well as a revised intake and exhaust system.

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Peak power of 520kW arrives relatively high up in the rev range for a turbo V8 at 6000rpm, and while it’s the sheer power figure that gives the DBX its new number designation, the real hero of the equation is its torque.

The maximum torque of 900 Nm arrives at just 2600 rpm and is transmitted up to 4500 rpm.

This gives the DBX707 a low-end pull that feels more natural than mechanical. In practical terms, this means the 707 is never looking for power, with even subtle movements of the accelerator pedal adding numbers to the speedometer in quick succession. Remarkably, the M178, even in its most powerful guise (apart from the ‘LS2’ evolution in the GT Black Series), feels remarkably relaxed.

He has the aura of a heavyweight UFC fighter who casually moves with the utmost confidence but is able to quickly move to his feet to deploy firepower that will put you on your ass before you even know what’s happening.

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Leaving the gearbox to ourselves is appropriate on the road, where we found it intuitive and smooth during quiet driving. Turn on the heater and you can lock it in full manual mode, which is great for track driving.

The depth of the torque reserve is such that we switched to short-shifting in a few corners – namely the Honda’s exit towards Siberia and the change of direction after the MG.

The Pirelli P Zero tires always struggled to maintain 520kW of power, no matter how wet the road surface, but we found that they gave up a bit sooner than we would have liked. The change in surface at full throttle on the road resulted in all four wheels slipping.

They never gave us enough confidence on the circuit to really go on. While we were aware that the wet conditions weren’t ideal, the DBX707’s all-wheel drive system fell short on the P Zero as they weren’t able to match the car’s performance.

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It’s worth noting, though, that when grip was relinquished, the basic chassis balance was impressive with a natural yaw progression that was easy to predict and capture.

Where we wanted more for the tires, we were very impressed by the standard carbon-ceramic brakes, which measure 420mm in diameter up front and 390mm in the rear.

The stiffness of the wood is typical of a road compound, but when we pushed them on the track, we found them to be reliable, reassuring, and capable of knocking the DBX707 down from significant speed with remarkable efficiency.

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But the real jewel in the DBX707’s dynamic crown is the steering, which is completely out of place for an SUV. Feedback through the steering wheel is crisp and clear, and there’s just the right amount of weight to be commended.

The steering is super direct, incredibly precise and supported by a surprisingly quick rack. Like the suspension tuning, the DBX707 inhibits grand touring performance, but it more than makes up for it by giving the biggest Aston Martin you can buy a Gaydon sports car-like character on the track.

Aston Martin didn’t reinvent the hyper SUV genre with the DBX707, but it has managed to build a seriously compelling addition to a growing segment – ​​and it just might be the financial savior the company needs.

2022 Aston Martin DBX707 Specs

Body 5-door, 5-seater large SUV
Drive all wheels
Engine 3982cc V8, DOHC, 32V, twin-turbo
Drilling/Lifting 83.0 x 92.0 mm
Compression 8.6:1
Power supply 520 kW at 6000 rpm
Torque 900 Nm at 2600-4500 rpm
0-100 km/h 3.3 seconds
Fuel consumption 14.2 l/100 km
Mass 2245 kg
Performance/weight 231 kW/t
Transmission 9-speed automatic
Suspension double A-arm, air springs, adaptive dampers, anti-roll bar (f); multi-link, air springs, adaptive dampers, stabilizer (r)
L/W/V 5039/2220/1680 mm
Wheelbase 3060 mm
tracks 1698/1664mm (f/r)
Management electrically assisted rack and pinion
Brakes 420mm carbon-ceramic discs, 6-piston calipers (f); 390mm carbon-ceramic discs, single-piston calipers (r)
Wheels 23 x 10.0 inches (f); 23 x 11.5 inches (r)
Tires 285/35/R23 Pirelli P Zero (f); 325/30/R23 Pirelli P Zero (r)
Price $428,400 + travel expenses

7.5

Safety, value and features

Things we like

  • Sharp steering
  • Ultra refined noise cancellation
  • Torque, torque, more torque
  • Plastic chassis

Not so much

  • Rigid suspension tuning in the GT
  • It can easily beat the tires
  • Wow, that’s a lot of weight
  • Ergonomic cabin features


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