And So We Drive

Exotic Performance SUVs

Since Aston Martin announced the DBX, I’ve been thinking a lot about exotic performance SUVs. Lacking the glamor of their sportscar siblings, we both expect them to perform up to the reputation of the brand, while also somehow rejoicing when they don’t. They occupy a strange niche.

With high sales and profit margins, it’s obvious why (almost) every manufacturer either sells an SUV or has one in the pipeline.

The strange thing is, Aston Martin is uniquely well positioned for this new craze.

Almost every time a performance marque has debuted a car with a bigger, less performant form factor, there’s been an outcry. This goes back before SUVs, too – think back to the reaction to the original Panamera.

The exceptions – such a BMW’s M cars – occur when the larger car, despite its size, performs as well or better than its smaller siblings. When, despite being a larger car, the brand can announce a performance and technology improvement.

A few years ago, this was hard to do. The Cayenne performed worse than the 911, and so on.

But two things are different for Aston Martin, now in particular:

First, road cars have gotten so good, and so quick, that manufacturers all have technological potential left “in the tank,” so to speak. Each generation gets a bit faster to keep sales up, and keep up with the competition, but there’s no other reason for it, so for the most part, manufacturers don’t need to push the bounds of technology. There’s margin to make cars even faster if they want to.

With an SUV, the body style is inherently less performant than a sports car. Historically, this meant that SUVs couldn’t perform as well as their sports car siblings. Now? Now it means that manufacturers need to use some of that otherwise-untapped excess capacity, and, in so doing, can ship an SUV that’s as performant as their sports cars.

Second, and specific to Aston Martin… it’s cars aren’t that quick, by exotic car standards.

Per Petrolicious, “the DBX is capable of cornering at the same speeds as the Vantage and offers even fiercer braking capabilities than the DBS Superleggera.”

With the DBX, Aston Martin can debut a car that’s both more practical and more performant than its own cars that came before. Aston Martin can raise the game over its own sports cars in a way that Porsche or Lamborghini just can’t. Aston Martin is the right brand, and this is the right time, for what should be a really well receivec performance SUV – and not a moment too soon, as the brand is in desperate need of cash.

Notes

  1. This all raises the question, though: how will Ferrari debut a new SUV? Ferrari releasing an SUV that outperforms its own sportscars seems unlikely, but then, it also seems unlikely that it would release an SUV that underperforms its rivals. The only answer here that isn't a lose-lose for Ferrari is to distinguish its new SUV with a vastly different character, and with most recent supercars feeling so similar, I can't wait.
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by Tyler Carbone