Aston Martin has started testing its first SUV. That means we get not just a look at it, but a name to go with it. It’s not getting a fancy name like Valkyrie or Vantage — this is now officially the Aston Martin DBX. And this is it tackling a rally stage in Wales.
The drive of this first prototype through the forests and muddy roads of Wales is a big step in the vehicle’s development. Though the company says that it has done computer simulations, an essential part of any new vehicle, it’s still an event when the rubber meets the road for the first time.
“It’s always a big day when you get to put the first actual miles on an early prototype and I’m delighted with the near perfect correlation between the simulator and this prototype. As an engineer, it’s genuinely exciting to get a feel for the car you’re working to create,” said Chief Engineer Matt Becker.
The rally stages were picked because they aren’t far from where the DBX will be built. The SUV will roll out of a new factory in St Athan in Wales. From there, it will head around the world. With prototypes testing in environments ranging from the frozen Arctic to high Alpine passes, to the scorching desert, and of course, the Autobahn and Nürburgring.
Since this is the automaker’s first SUV, the testing plan is a little different from usual. It will still see the same performance driving and testing requirements as the company’s sports cars, but this is an SUV which means it’ll have to do some SUV-type stuff.
That means not just off-road testing, or “multi-terrain” as Aston calls it, but cargo tests too. Like towing. Aston calls the DBX’s capability to tow and mud “impressive…as befits a state-of-the-art SUV.” Whatever that means.
The prototype’s camouflage does a good job of hiding details, but they’ve certainly done a good job of highlighting the prominent Aston grille. It’s a long way from the lifted two-door DBX concept from 2016. Interestingly, the taillights seem to have more of a DB4 appearance, with a pair of round lights and that Kamm tail, than matching any modern car from the brand. Though it’s just as likely that they’re specific to the prototypes and not for production.
The DBX is set to be unveiled near the end of 2019. The new plant in Wales will also be home to the brand’s electric models once the company’s planned EVs reach production. Though they aren’t giving any new news on that just now.