Aston Martin surprises Geneva with all-electric DBX super-CUV

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Aston Martin makes Geneva a little more fun with the unexpected DBX Concept (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)

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It was no secret that Aston Martin would have a big presence at the Geneva Motor Show. We were itching to make our way to its booth ever since seeing the Vulcan track car. When we arrived, we found that Gaydon had a little something extra in store. It revealed an entirely different look with the surprise debut of the DBX, a concept car that explores the possibility of a luxury GT crossover.

"The DBX Concept is a challenge to the existing status quo in the high luxury GT segment," explains Aston Martin CEO Dr. Andy Palmer. "It envisages a world, perhaps a world not too far away, when luxury GT travel is not only stylish and luxurious but also more practical, more family-friendly and more environmentally responsible. I asked my team at Aston Martin to expand their thinking beyond conventions, to explore what the future of luxury GT motoring would look like in years ahead, and the DBX Concept you see before you is the result."

The concept GT certainly reflects beyond-convention thinking. With its long, flowing Aston Martin hood, chunky body, high ground clearance, sporty cabin proportions and rear deck, the all-wheel-drive DBX isn't quite a sporty GT and isn't exactly a crossover. It exists somewhere in the middle ground between the two, along with a very few other GT crossovers like the Audi Nanuk Quattro.

In Aston Martin's pictures, in which a white backdrop provides insufficient evidence of the car's big, bruising size, it looks like it pulls off the AWD GT crossover coupe rather well. The car isn't quite as visually inspiring as the Nanuk Quattro, but it's certainly smoother and more Aston-like than the Local Motors Rally Fighter.

The car has a different presence in person, however, where you're forced to come to terms with just how hulking it is. On the outside, it looks too chunky and heavy to be a convincing performance car. With just two doors and a sharply sloped cabin, it doesn't exactly come off as a comfy crossover with plenty of room for the weekend's gear. In fact, the only thing convincing us that we could bear more than an hour in one of the two rear seats is the light, skeletal framework of the front buckets.

Maybe it's just that it was shoved all the way into the corner off Aston's booth, making it difficult to fit the entire beast inside a camera lens, but the DBX has a "large and awkward for no real reason" feel to it. If it's going to be a small 2+2 with limited trunk space, then pull out the front end, thin out the body and make it a high-riding, AWD coupe, ala the Nanuk. If on the other hand, it's supposed to be a crossover, give it the interior size and space of a proper crossover.

To be fair, chief creative officer Marek Reichman's job in spinning an Aston Martin out of Palmer's directive was no easy task. And we give Reichman's team credit for playing with forms and stepping beyond the usual ultra-premium SUV recipe of stretching current design language into five-door crossover shape (see the not-so-alluring Lamborghini Urus and Bentley EXP 9 F). But we just can't imagine that many Aston buyers say to the dealer, "I want the big, punishing body of a crossover, but the cramped interior of a 2+2."

Then again, the popular crossover segment wasn't born on looks, and the DBX isn't necessarily a bad-looking car, so much as a strange-looking Aston Martin. Maybe Reichman's given Aston the key to printing money.

Though Aston has left out virtually every key detail (motor size, performance, dimensions), the details it has provided lend some serious technological intrigue to its latest concept. Aston Martin imagines the DBX as an all-electric AWD car with in-wheel motors. The at-the-wheels drive configuration helps solve the space shortage left by the lack of proper SUV tailgate, opening up added cargo space in the hood compartment. In Aston's vision, the motors are powered by lithium-sulfur cells that are restocked by way of a kinetic energy recovery system (KERS). A drive-by-wire electric steering system complements the e-drive.

Inside the light, simple cabin, the driver and front passenger keep tuned in with individual head-up displays. The auto-dimming glass adds to the "cocooning ambiance" Aston set out to create. The supple brown nubuck leather and contrasting bright ware give the cockpit a highly distinctive look and feel.

Whether you love Aston's out-of-the-box thinking or consider the design a swing and a miss, you're in luck (or not). Aston seems quite serious about adding a car in the crossover space, but that car won't necessarily be a direct descendant of the DBX.

"This is, clearly, not a production-ready sports GT car, but it is a piece of fresh, bold thinking about what Aston Martin GT customers around the world could request of us in the future," Palmer states. "The DBX Concept is more than a thought starter for us and for our customers, though. We will, in due course, be entering a car into the new DBX space and I am very much looking forward to seeing how this concept is received not only here today, but also by our legion of existing loyal customers and by those potential customers around the world who have, to this point, yet to consider one of our cars."

So what do you think? Would you consider a production Aston Martin DBX, perhaps with a more traditional gas powertrain, if you were shopping for a luxury GT with AWD bite?

Source: Aston Martin

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