• Aston Martin DBX707: First Drive Review

Unmistakably British, the world’s most powerful production SUV is also an uber-exclusive one

As a Bond fan, it was inevitable that driving the Aston Martin DBX707 would bring the world’s favourite spy to my mind. And then there’s the fact that the 707 is the world’s fastest production SUV, given its claimed top speed of 310kmph. Heck, with 707PS on tap the Aston Martin DBX707 is also worthy of being called the world’s most powerful production SUV (a certain Italian out to claim the title will hit the streets only next year, you see). Long story short, the DBX707 is easily one of the most special cars I’ve driven this year! And then there’s the fact that it’s an Aston Martin - they’re rare (at least in our country!) and special. 

The past half-decade has seen most luxury and performance car makers around the world switch focus to SUVs as a body style and understandably so. This has given birth to what we today call the super SUV segment and clearly, the horsepower wars have moved beyond two-door sports cars. What else would explain the DBX707’s maniacal claimed 0-100kmph time of 3.3 seconds? Or as the name implies, its output of 707PS along with the stomach-churning, 900Nm of peak torque its AMG-sourced, twin-turbocharged V8 engine offers? Then there’s the design. I mean, there’s no way the DBX would have qualified as an SUV two decades ago. But today car makers are pushing the boundaries of design as far as the body style goes and the DBX707 is a fine example indeed. 

What’s also noteworthy is that the 707 isn’t just a souped up DBX. Aston Martin has distinguished this one from the standard DBX with extensive changes and the 707 ditches a bit of the former’s elegance for a sportier, more menacing look. So you get a more aggressive looking front end here with a larger grille, different DRLs and revised front bumper, besides which there are additional, sharper lines all round. The headlamp design and detailing both deserve a mention too as they are no less than a work of art. I’m also digging the carbon fibre ‘blades’ on the vents on top of the hood. The silhouette from the sides is one of my favourite angles to look at the DBX707 though – it’s unlike anything else and perhaps the best execution in terms of it being a go-fast, super-SUV. 

The rear end looks arresting too thanks to the quad exhausts and intricately designed bumper, but my favourite design trait is the ducktail bootlid that’s unmistakably Aston Martin, especially with the Vantage-esque tail lights and also the LED strip running across the width of this gargantuan SUV. Pictures don’t do justice to its dimensions and it is huge in the flesh! Our test car was also running the optional 23-inch wheels – with massive yellow-hued brake calipers – and besides looking humongous, the wheels add more character to the stance. On the move the DBX707 is quite a sight, as confirmed by other drivers on the road, who seemed transfixed by its presence. Of course, like I mentioned before, the DBX707 also feels more exclusive - there are way too many Italian sportscars and supercars around, not to forget the 200-odd Uruses Lamborghini has sold in India, but Astons are not a common sight. 

It feels very exclusive inside too – again, Aston Martin has ensured the 707 is a cut above the standard DBX given the choice of materials and surface finishes, not to forget the smatterings of carbon fibre. Aston Martin also offers a tonne of options when it comes to customising the 707 and our test car was specced with some interesting ones. These include the grey leather with white stitching on the dashboard and the mix of grey and yellow leather on the seats. The cabin layout is very distinctive – it’s unlike the average luxury car. This holds particularly true for the engine start/stop button and drive selector, as you don’t get a stick or rotary dial. What you get instead is an array of buttons on top of the infotainment screen, including a large, centrally-placed engine start/stop button flanked by the P-R-N-D buttons. 

A large rotor on the centre console lets you select driving modes and sits flanked by a number of buttons for various controls including the ‘loud’ button for the exhaust baffles. I found the infotainment screen to be the only fly in the ointment here – it isn’t a touchscreen to begin with and the system, an older one borrowed from Mercedes-Benz, controlled only via the touchpad on the centre console. The seats are snug and very supportive and offer a sportscar like feel, just that you’re practically sitting one storey above what you would in a sportscar. I also like the steering wheel – it again feels sportscar-like and adds to the raciness, as do the large paddle shifters behind it, mounted onto the steering column in true supercar fashion. The DBX707 isn’t just about mind-numbing performance – it’s also about turning every drive in it into an occasion.

You get a tonne of creature comforts too, like the 16- way adjustable powered front seats, heating and cooling function for all four seats and a lot more. The cabin oozes opulence, and overall, the DBX707 feels like a unique mix between sportiness and ultra-luxuriousness. Then there’s the boot release – swipe your foot and it opens, swipe your foot again and it shuts. Aston Martin hasn’t skimped on these niceties just in the name of making the DBX707 the fastest or the world’s most powerful SUV. It even gets the car maker’s trademark ‘Swan doors’ that are angled upwards when opened – to prevent them from scraping against kerbs or footpaths, so the DBX707 isn’t just about the numbers. 

There’s a ‘Power Start’ function too – pull the upshift paddle as you also press the brake and a red light starts flashing inside the engine start button. This confirms that power start is on and when you start the engine, you’ll notice the exhausts baffles are open already and there’s enough decibels to wake the neighbours up in an instant. Driving modes include GT, which is the most sane one, Terrain, which jacks up the DBX707’s adaptive air suspension to offer 235mm of ground clearance and Sport and also Sport+, where the suspension lowers itself to make for a hunkered down stance. The DBX707 feels surprisingly easy to pilot, especially in GT mode. But give it the beans, even in GT mode, and the SUV reminds you that it packs in over 700 horses under its hood. Sport+ is where it can turn into a mad, rabid beast. 

Overall refinement levels and cabin quietness do not let you realise how fast you are going, but if you’re not careful enough with your throttle inputs, you’ll find yourself clipping north of 150kmph in a flash. So Sport+ mode is best experienced by exercising restraint or at a racetrack. It’s also the mode where the DBX707 can turn into a legit supercar-baiter and I can think of few cars that will be able to keep up with this one when driven in anger. Let’s not forget, the twin-turbocharged V8 engine under its hood is an AMG unit that has been fettled further by Aston Martin’s engineers, besides employing several changes including new ball-bearing turbochargers. Power is sent to all four wheels via a nine-speed automatic gearbox and it’s the alacrity of the gearbox in swapping cogs that impresses, besides the manic engine performance itself. The DBX707 really is a backroom brawler in Oxford brogues and while it may feel like a very polished super luxury SUV otherwise, the DBX707 isn’t a set of wheels for everyone. 

The DBX707 is also quite a handler despite its size, visual bulk and the 2.2-tonne weight. It loves being thrown into corners and grips tarmac like a leech at highway speeds. Heck, if it wasn’t for the tall seating, you’d be forgiven for assuming you’re driving a proper sportscar, such is the feel offered by the DBX707 from behind the wheel. Admittedly, trying to drive fast in Sport+ on our roads would be considered an act of bravery as it isn’t just the engine and throttle responses that are at their sharpest, but the overall dynamics as well. Sport is where things feel more balanced and you also feel more in control and can make more, if not the most of the DBX707’s immense potential. It’s a rocket ship, albeit one that can also transport four people in great comfort. Despite the massive, 23-inch wheels the ride quality is a pleasant surprise, especially in GT mode and the DBX707 is perfectly at ease devouring miles. Heck, it also has a massive, 638-litre boot that will swallow a lot of luggage. 

So is the Aston Martin DBX707 the ultimate SUV money can buy today? Quite possibly. Numbers confirm it comes with the ultimate bragging rights, but more importantly, it is also extremely engaging to drive, and at the same time it is uber-luxurious and surprisingly spacious too. The tastefully designed interiors add more oomph, while the stunning exterior design will help it stand out even in a bevvy of super-luxury and high-performance cars. It is a rare breed and an SUV that in my books will refuse to get overshadowed easily, be it by the even more promising Lamborghini Urus Performante or the Ferrari Purosangue that’s due next year. You could argue that at Rs 4.63 crore ex-showroom the asking price is a little too steep, but this isn’t just any SUV money can buy you. It’s the most exquisite one you can buy today and one that’s perhaps the best set of wheels Daniel Craig can look at buying himself, post-retirement as James Bond!

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