The Aston Martin brand has spurred excitement ever since James Bond, aka 007, sped across the silver screen in the now-iconic DB5. That one came with essential secret-agent options like .30-caliber machine guns up front, oil and smoke emitters in the rear, and an ejector seat to dispense with unwelcome occupants in the passenger seat.
None of those is available in the brand’s top-line DBX crossover, the DBX707, but it does offer amazing skills and thrills and a shipload of high-end, albeit tamer features. First question is, are you comfortable with a price tag of a quarter-mill or more… for a midsize crossover?
Aston Martin actually entered the super-crossover party two years ago but has upped the ante with this top-range 707, named for its 707 metric horsepower (that’s 697 hp to you American types). With launch-control at the ready, it faces foes like the Porsche Cayenne GT (which started the craze), Lamborghini Urus, Bentley Bentayga Speed and forthcoming Ferrari’s Purosangue, which will be the priciest of the bunch at around $390K when it arrives later this year.
The first thing to get your head around is supercar makers in the crossover market. Of course, the 2023 DBX707 isn’t just a crossover: Aston calls it the world’s fastest production SUV with 0-60 mph coming in 3.1 seconds. Potent carbon ceramic brakes shed the speed remarkably quick, and adaptive dampers with a 48-volt anti-roll system keep it flat on corners.
It goes from track to the trail with an off-road drive mode; An air suspension system can raise ground clearance by 1.8 inches, or lower it for improved on-road performance.
The 707 has the same exterior design as the DBX, especially from the profile. But it has a larger (by 27%) dark chrome grille to suck in extra air for engine cooling, additional new air intakes and brake cooling ducts. A wider and lower stance, combined with new daytime running lights and carbon fiber front splitter give the front end a more aggressive look.
In the rear, a longer ducktail spoiler provides better downforce, and there’s a larger rear diffuser, too. Air outlets are carved into the rear quarter panels. Larger quad exhausts in black look great and deliver the crackles and pops through the gears. Tip to the noise-lovers: Hold either shift paddle while pressing the ignition button for a start-up growl that just feels good and pays back noisy neighbors.
Power comes from the same 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 engine as in the DBX (and other Aston models) but with new turbochargers, tuning and electronics. At 697 horsepower and 663 pound-feet of torque, the DBX707 offers 155 more hp over the core DBX and an extra 147 units of torque.
A key piece of the technology, says engineering chief Drummond Jacoy, is a new wet-clutch 9-speed transmission that provides considerably smoother and 30-percent faster shifts.
This crossover is crazy fast: 0-to-100 mph checks in at 7.9 seconds. A new racing launch control rockets the DBX to the quarter-mile mark in just 11.5 seconds at 119 mph. Your head and body will feel the embrace of the well-carved bolstered seats. It’s easy to engage, too: In one of the Sport modes, depress the brake and accelerator together and wait for a red Race Start message on the digital panel. When the rpm hits 4,000, hang onto your marbles and loose change.
With an amazing top speed of 193 mph, Jacoy calls the 707 the fastest ultra-luxury SUV in the world.
Back on real roads, where people commute and run errands, the all-wheel-drive DBX707 remains fun to drive and engaging. Steering is quick to respond, corners are barely noticeable, and the ride is comfortable though on the stiffer side (this is high performance, remember?). Optional 23-inch wheels don’t help.
Stopping power is strong with massive rotors (16.5 inches up front, 15.4 rear) that are matched with calipers painted in one of six colors.
Five drive modes control the settings for the ride, chosen with a convenient dial on the center console. Four of the modes are for on-road, one for mild off-road activity. The default mode is GT and serves best for daily driving, while Sport and Sport+ improve throttle response and tighten steering and suspension.
For what it matters in this class, the EPA says to expect 15 mpg in town, just 20 on the highway, for a combined figure of 17.
The five-seat cabin is nothing short of dazzling, starting with broad swaths of rich, soft leather, wonderfully stitched and offering a selection of contrasting colors. Leather also covers the doors and dashboard, making exception to new trends toward sustainable and synthetic fabrics. Even the cargo cover is crafted in a lovely sheet of hide.
Aston’s wide use of carbon fiber outside (for strength and reduced weight) continues inside as accents on the center console, door sills and even the back of the driver’s seat. The Aston Martin logo is embroidered on the head rest.
Seats are firm but well padded and ultra comfortable even for all-day driving, something few can say about sport seats. They have 16-way power adjustment to accommodate all sizes. Driver visibility is good at front and sides, but gets squeezed in the rear because of the sloping roof. But the rear seat accommodates three adults with comfort.
Ignition switch and gear-selector buttons, oddly, are found across the top of the dash where it’s a reach even for taller folks when seats are pushed back. A button on the center console exaggerates the exhaust note. Cup holders are big enough for large drinks, and a wireless phone charger resides on the lower level of the console.
The driver faces a clean-looking 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, which changes colors for different drive modes. Meanwhile, infotainment comes from a Mercedes-generated system on a 10.3-inch screen, but it is not a touchscreen. Rather, it is operated with a rotary dial and touchpad and it seems outdated in this modern cabin.
If there’s one more knock inside, the DBX707 lags in cargo capacity for a crossover. At 22.3 cubic feet, it’s better than a sedan but short of many crossovers. Still, folding the rear seats opens a useable 54 cubic feet when you need to carry 10 bags of lawn fertilizer in a supercar – ok, luggage.
It can also tow up to 5,940 pounds if, again, anyone wants to haul boats and bikes in this pricey performance crossover.
Expect the usual advanced safety features, like adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, blind spot and lane charge alerts.
Autonomous-drive features, however, are not included. Just as Mr. Bond was particular about his Martini (“shaken, not stirred”), Aston Martin figures drivers will want to handle the curvy roads themselves.
Barry Spyker was the automotive editor and columnist for the Miami Herald.
As tested: $292,586 (Includes a long list of options, including gloss 2x2 twill carbon fiber inside and out, $17,100; Apex gray paint, $5,000; painted brake calipers, $1,500; dark-grille finish, $800; rear acoustic privacy glass, $1,900; smoked taillights, $1,200; textured black 23-inch wheels, $5,700; tri-tone leather interior, $13,500
What’s all the excitement about? Are you kidding? Amazing power, speed and performance wrapped in a super-crossover from Aston Martin
Powertrain: 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 engine produces 697 hp and 663 pound-feet of torque; Mated to 9-speed wet-clutch automatic for quicker shifts
How’s the performance? Bullet-like acceleration to 60 mph in 3.1 seconds, the quarter-mile in 11.5 seconds with launch control. Adaptive damping and 48-volt anti-roll system keeps it well planted on corners
Fuel economy: EPA-estimated 15 mpg city, 20 highway, 17 mpg combined