2015 Geneva Motor Show: Aston SUV concept shocks

Aston Martin DBX ‘posh-roader’ reveals surprise future for British sports-car brand

ASTON Martin has dropped a huge surprise on the Geneva Motor Show, unveiling a sharp looking battery-powered mash-up between a grand tourer and high-riding SUV it calls the DBX Concept.

Created by the British marque to “defy conventional thinking about the luxury GT segment”, Aston is now pitching for the same breed of cashed-up buyers wanting rugged off-road looks wrapped in a luxury package – the new breed of posh-roaders, as evidenced by Bentley’s in-development Bentayga and the recently announced Rolls-Royce Cullinan.

“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,” Aston Martin chief executive Andy Palmer said.

“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.”

The brief for Aston’s designers when creating the DBX started with thinking how the future of GT motoring would look in the years ahead.

Penned by a team led by chief creative officer Marek Reichman, the all-electric DBX Concept features all-wheel drive and four seats.

Because it is electric, and has no need of a conventional engine, the design features a decent-sized boot as well as a ‘frunk’, the name given to storage space under the long bonnet.

Even the concept’s black paintwork is special, including a micro-fine layer of chrome to mimic the look of a black pearl.

The concept uses lightweight lithium-sulphur batteries to store its energy – they’re tipped to one day replace the expensive lithium-ion units used in most of today’s hybrid and plug-in cars – which is then fed to electric motors tucked into the hubs of each wheel.

Other highlights include drive-by-wire electric steering, glass that includes an auto-dimming layer, and bespoke driver and passenger head-up displays.

The DBX also has active LED headlights, carbon-ceramic brakes with a Formula One-style kinetic energy recovery system, and cameras instead of conventional mirrors.

The DBX is a big change of direction for Aston Martin’s design under the stewardship of Palmer, appointed to head up the 102-year-old brand late last year after a long career at Nissan and its luxury offshoot, Infiniti.

Palmer has to steer the company through difficult times, with sales of the marque’s limited range slumping over the last 12 months and the company’s level of debt, believed to be around $800 million, threatening to crush it.

Unlike rivals including Fiat-owned Ferrari, Mahindra-owned Jaguar, and VW-owned Bentley and Lamborghini, standalone Aston Martin does not have a cashed-up patron to support it, apart from a small investment from Mercedes-Benz.

The equally surprising reveal this week of the Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6 Concept – a car that the maker says it would be mad not to push into production – shows that Aston’s rivals are arming themselves to move in and cut its traditional two-seater sports coupe grass.

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