JAMES Bond is no stranger to driving off-road but his next gadget-laden set of wheels will be the most go-anywhere car yet to come out of Q Branch, as Aston Martin has begun testing a prototype of its first-ever SUV ahead of its official unveiling in late 2019.
The development version of the car, which Aston has confirmed is called DBX, has been put through its paces on the competition stages used in Wales Rally GB. It’s an appropriate proving ground not only because of its challenging off-road terrain but also because DBX will be built in a new factory near St Athan, in south Wales, and the rally stages are just three hours’ drive from the British car maker’s headquarters in Gaydon, Warwickshire.
Over the coming months, Aston’s inaugural SUV will be honed in a variety of other locations, ranging from the fearsome Nürburgring Nordschleife racing circuit to high altitude roads, Middle Eastern deserts and the frozen climes of the Arctic Circle.
And as a 4×4 SUV is a new departure for Aston Martin, the company has had to develop new testing procedures specifically for the it, including having its towing credentials thoroughly checked.
Additional details on the DBX won’t be revealed until closer to launch, though it’s highly likely it will be fitted with the 4-litre V8 engine from the new Aston Martin Vantage — the Sunday Times’ Sports Car of the Year, no less.
As the St Athan plant will also build Aston Martin’s electric Lagonda models, it’s possible a hybrid or fully electric powertrain could be added to the DBX range in due course. With their near-silent running, that would make Bond an even stealthier — and more deadly — adversary for the world’s bad guys.