The new ultimate-performance variant features a more powerful V-8 engine.
The combination of a racetrack and an SUV appears to be an unusual one, even if it is really humorous. The prototype model of the Aston Martin DBX 707 demonstrates each factor by lapping the 1.1-mile Stowe circuit at Silverstone, which Aston uses for high-performance testing. A stint as a passenger with CEO Tobias Moers driving prior to my drive demonstrates that the 707 is capable of shredding Stowe's rapid straights in a wave of V-8 fury, as well as producing some breathtaking angles of energy oversteer.
Moers, on the other hand, is more interested in demonstrating the brand new range-topping DBX's low-speed experience than he is in shredding tires, leaving the test track to take a tour of Silverstone's bumpy entry roads to demonstrate that the firmed-up suspension settings have not come at the expense of compliance. Suspension changes include new front high mounts and stiffer geometry, as well as slightly softer rear dampers to improve traction. "The car can't be too aggressive," he adds, pointing to potholes to demonstrate his point. "That would scupper it." Nobody could accuse Moers of being a hands-off leader.
The headline energy figure is very spectacular: The automotive's 707 metric horsepower translates to 697 horsepower. However, the changes to the 4.0-liter AMG V-8 are surprisingly minor: new ball-bearing turbochargers, updated induction and exhaust programs, and a new ECU. Moers affirms that the engine's bottom end is unchanged—as the guy who commissioned the V-8's design in his previous role as head of AMG, he knows its capabilities better than anybody. The most significant powertrain modification is the introduction of a new wet-clutch nine-speed gearbox, which has planetary gears like a typical automatic but uses a clutch pack instead of a torque converter to improve off-the-line response. Moers returns to the Stowe circuit to demonstrate that responsiveness, this time using the 707's brutally efficient new launch-control function.
Regardless of the enjoyable novelty of being chauffeured by the CEO, this is more than just a passenger experience. After a few more laps on the circuit, Moers returns to the pit lane to relinquish the driver's seat, saying, "You will learn more sitting on this side."
Yes, I do. To begin, the prototype DBX 707 feels just as rapid behind the wheel as it does from the passenger seat. When you consider the 707's stated 4950-pound curb weight, Aston's claimed 3.1-second zero-to-60-mph time is crazy enough, but it's the company's 7.4-second zero-to-100-mph claim that's actually unbelievable. That would put it just 0.1 second slower than the Jaguar XJ220 supercar's time—the Jag was the fastest manufactured automobile on the planet when it was new.
Acceleration forces are nearly unbearable, with the DBX 707 launching laboriously and eating the comparatively rapid gearing of its nine-speed gearbox so quickly that shifting manually is impossible to keep up with the engine's insatiable thirst for brand new ratios. The standard DBX isn't a quick car, but the 707 feels like it's in completely other leagues, especially with the screaming symphony of the fresh new exhaust.
The commonplace installation of carbon-ceramic brakes, with entry discs measuring a monstrous 16.5 inches in diameter, appears to be smart. At Silverstone, the prototype's pedal began to melt after a few hot laps—a non-finalized pad compound was cited as the cause—however, the full system should be capable of dealing with the high thermal hundreds the automobile will be capable of producing.
Although we expect that few customers will choose to take their cars on the track on a regular basis, the DBX 707 performed admirably on the dinky course. Grip ranges from the huge non-compulsory 23-inch Pirelli P Zero tires are large, and while it wasn't difficult to induce understeer on Stowe's tighter turns—physics being immovable, after all—it by no means seemed excessive. And it was just as simple to throw the 707's handling stability considerably backward under power.
The 707, like the standard DBX, includes GT, Sport, and Sport Plus modes, which gradually increase the torque-vectoring impact of the active rear differential to assist the automobile turn and also send more of the engine's output to the back axle. The stability management system also features a more forgiving Sport mode, which allows for vital energy oversteer before intervening. Only the brave (or foolish) can switch it off.
However, even if you're not in desperate need of hoonery, the modifications may be felt. The tighter front end has removed any sense of slack from the 707's steering, and while no greater power is necessary to turn the wheel than in the standard DBX, there are definitely extra hints. (In retrospect, it felt very AMG-like, which is quite understandable given Moers' past life.) Despite the huge wheels, the basic pliability of the air springs, and what remains a beneficial suspension journey, keeping the experience compliant over Stowe's curbing. Furthermore, the 48-volt active anti-roll system aids in reducing lean and keeping the 707's mass under tight control during directional changes. We may need to wait till a road test in the finished vehicle to assess real-world compliance, but early indications are promising.
Other changes to the 707 include a more muscular body package, yet one that lacks the theatricality of the Lamborghini Urus. It will also get new seats, which gripped well on the track, as well as a redesigned center console with a rotary selection for the many dynamic settings and separate buttons for the adjustable dampers, stability control, and the exhaust's acoustic flap. It would not, however, feature a touchscreen interface, despite the fact that Moers believes creating a whole new, unique UI system is one of Aston's top goals.
Aside from extending the appeal of the DBX variant, the 707 has another objective. That is, to demonstrate that it is the fastest SUV on the planet or at least the fastest across the well-known 12.9-mile Nürburgring Nordschleife. The current SUV record is 7:39, established by the Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT last year, and while Moers did not provide a target time, it is evident that he intends the 707 to be faster. We're not only pleased, because our Cayenne Turbo GT straight-line test outcomes outperform not only Porsche's claims but also Aston Martin's estimations for the DBX 707.
Despite a $235,086 starting price that makes it over $50,000 more expensive than the standard model, Aston Martin believes the 707 will account for more than half of the DBX's sales volume. However, while the standard DBX provides a wonderfully Aston-like driving experience, it is not near the top of its ludicrously rapid phase in terms of raw performance. The 707 is about to change that scenario, and it's going to do it in a big manner. Don't be surprised if the production model proves to be the fastest SUV of all.