But don’t let that stop you. You won’t regret it.
It’s like a dive under the covers with a lover whose scent stays with you for days.
Even a day later, I woke up with the scent of the Aston Martin DBX still clinging to my skin. I found my mind wandering back to it, deciding how to define that fragrance so I could recreate it with flowers on my nightstand or a handbag that costs a single percent of its price (and is still very expensive).
The Scent is Just the Start of the DBX’s Beautiful Details
My brief 22-hour test drive in the Aston Martin DBX, the first ever SUV from this vaunted British luxury car maker, and with a starting price of $176,900 — $220,986 for our test model — started when I picked it up at a parking garage near the Los Angeles airport. I had arranged the test drive, as I had arranged for others that week, for one a day so I could set my own course in the DBX.
Climbing in and discovering the bespoke details of the DBX, I felt a sense of calm. It’s designed with an eye toward what Aston Martin does so well— the luxuries of a grand touring car and the soul of a race car. The interior is more minimalist than cockpit-command center. Other than the gear selector buttons positioned at the top center of the dashboard, everything else is where you intuitively would expect it, inset into the dashboard and center console.
The center console and driver controls are delicately framed in aluminum, and woven carbon fiber panels frame the center console and line the door panels. On first glance the panels may look like wood, but look closer and you can see the woven texture under a shiny cover; these panels add a pop of color to the subtle elegance of the cabin.
And, the DBX comes with a bit of jewelry: On the front and rear of the DBX, as well as on the steering wheel, is the Aston Martin enameled winged badge. Crafted by British jeweler Vaughtons, the DBX badge is larger than those found on other Astons. Nothing, it seems, is an afterthought on this car.
Let’s Talk About that Leather. Lots of Leather
What is distinctive is the feel of this cabin as the leather seats envelop you. If you thought you’d felt plush leather before, you haven’t. Not like this. On first glance yes, they’re gorgeous, pieced together by hand stitching of the sort you’d see on a Savile Row suit. Panels inset on the seats and seat backs form a ‘bucket’ for your core to keep you firmly planted and comfortable, while stitched perforated channels allow air and heat to flow around you, a benefit of the Elegance package, a $4,600 addition and the Indulgence package, a $3,100 addition. The front seats in our test model include a seatbelt harness cutout in case you want to add racing harnesses. All four headrests are embroidered with the Aston Martin logo.
Another distinctive detail is the Alcantara headliner and retractable screen covering the panoramic roof. Alcantara, the suede-like fabric that Louis Vuitton lines its handbags with, is not unusual in luxury cars. But as a screen cover for the sunroof, it is an extra luxury. Just touch it and you’ll be hooked—perhaps even enticed to purchase an LV Speedy just for the daily delight of its feel.
The leather in the DBX isn’t limited to the seats, however. Layers of it, with contrast stitching in a shade to complement the exterior paint color, cover the dashboard, the door panels and even the speakers. Even the cargo cover is a leather panel with blue contrast stitching. This minimalistic approach allows your eyes to focus on the road and your fingertips to reach the controls. And it is true luxury; the absence of ‘more’ is what is so extra.
All That Lovely Leather: The Source of the Delightful Scent?
In a smaller Aston Martin model, the 2-seat Vantage for example, there’s a lot less leather. But in the DBX, which has a more vertical structure with a larger dashboard, larger more upright seats, larger door panels — 4 of them— plus the cargo cover, the amount of leather is significantly greater. Aston Martin’s leather maker, Bridge of Weir Leather, is a bespoke purveyor and they deliver an exceptional product. From the touch, feel and sensory experience, being in the DBX is not unlike a visit to a Fréderéic Fekkai salon: the fresh, clean, slightly fruity, slightly earthy scent is completely addictive, and you’ll crave when you’re not wrapped in it.
Behind the Wheel, Plenty of Wheeeeeeeee
Don’t let the DBX’s interior look and feel fool you: this is a performance car. The sense of flexing your foot against the accelerator, gripping the leather-covered steering wheel and letting the machine whisk you away stirs your soul. It feels so good.
Through a partnership with Mercedes-Benz, the DBX is equipped with an AMG engine, a 540 horsepower V8 turbo with 516 torque, more than enough to rocket this mid-sized SUV through any curve or over any hill. Push the accelerator to the floor, and you’re rewarded by a satisfying and robust engine sound and a bit of wind in your hair. You’re glad the seats are bucketed to keep you firmly planted.
For drivers who want to challenge the DBX a bit more than the typical highway allows, this SUV is track-ready. Paddle shifters, the Formula 1 type that are attached to the steering column rather than the wheel, allow you to shift through the gears for better control of the vehicle.
And for drivers who may find themselves on a snowy road, there’s all-wheel drive and off-road mode. Keep in mind that this is a performance car, and four-wheeling off the grid isn’t the goal; but getting to your hilltop in Aspen or to a high desert cabin is definitely doable.
A Comfy, But Not Over the Top, Rear Seat
This is a driver’s car. If you’re looking for something that someone else will drive while you relax, certainly the DBX can do the job, but the driver is having all the fun. The rear seat has a cocoon-like feel, and there is a surprising amount of leg room to stretch out and enjoy the ride. Rear seat amenities, though, are limited to the basics: USB ports, climate control with vents both on the rear of the center console and on the door pillars, and cup holders in the center arm rest.
Technology, Yes: Just What You Need
There are a few things I need in a car’s technology and Aston Martin clearly understands that. Adaptive cruise control, Apple CarPlay, speed limit and road signs displayed on one of the screens— or even better, on all of them— are among them. The DBX has all this thanks to the partnership with Mercedes-Benz. A rotary dial on the center console lets you dial up what you want to see on the screen, choose your radio station and more. With dedicated buttons for climate and drive experience, you can quickly access what you need without going through the infotainment system.
No, It’s Not Purple. It’s Victorian Blue
This is a heritage detail; being a British brand with a deep cultural roots, Victorian Blue, or Royal Indigo, as Aston Martin calls it, is a natural color choice. The Victorians loved this blue, a plant-derived color that covered everything from houses and shutters—often in a near-purple hue—to shimmery silk and organza gowns. It shimmered on the DBX, too, looking blue in low light but bright purple in full sun.
At first I was aghast—my mother would have good fun with me driving around in a purple SUV. But the color quickly grew on me. The Royal Indigo contrast stitching on the gray leather interior has a rich, sublime look to it. The car was easy to spot in a parking lot and stood out in the valet. It drew attention even when flanked by other Aston Martins and Rolls Royces. I’ve changed my mind. I’d easily opt for Royal Indigo Blue.
But… That Scent. That’s What Defined This Experience
In my first few hours in the car I was sure that Gus, the fleet driver who delivered the DBX, must have great taste in grooming products— hair serum? Moisturizer? But after hours behind the wheel, the fragrance was still just as present, unfazed by drive along the ocean with the windows down to catch the evening’s salt breeze or takeout from Shake Shack.
The next morning, the fragrance greeted me as I loaded my luggage into the cargo area and set out for my test drive.
But where did the scent come from? My first thought was a diffuser, but no; there isn’t one. My next thought was the obvious: the leather that covers everything inside the car.
An Affair to Remember
As I finished my test drive, which took me around Los Angeles and into Malibu, I ended at a West Hollywood hotel. There, I opened the liftgate to have the fragrance waft toward me. I pulled my roll-aboard and tote bag from the cargo area and closed it for the last time, lighting on the purple-hued paint and enameled wing badge. It was hard to say goodbye.
Once in my room I opened my luggage opened on the bed and the fragrance bloomed, wafting from the hinges of my bag. I opened my tote to find the scent had settled into the canvas. Every time I moved it, the scent diffused again.
And I long to once again wrap myself in it. To be enveloped in the DBX’s fresh, slightly fruity earthiness. To breathe it in and let it fill every corner of my soul. And to let it cling to me for days.
What We Listened to in the Aston Martin DBX
Every great experience demands a great sound track. This is what sounded perfect in the Aston Martin DBX.