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Exclusive: Aston DBX Coupe, seven-seater in frame
Aston Martin considers coupe body style and seven-seat wagon version of DBX SUV
17 Mar 2020
ASTON Martin is believed to be investigating a more rakishly-styled version of the all-new DBX SUV, with a more coupe-like silhouette and aggressively sporty design to take on the Lamborghini Urus and M versions of the BMW X6.
This may also be joined by a stretched, seven-seat iteration of the DBX wagon for markets such as China and the United States, as Aston Martin plans to greatly expand the appeal and demographic of its DBX-based SUV line-up.
Speaking to GoAuto at the British sports-luxury marque’s showroom in Melbourne last week, Aston Martin Lagonda executive vice-president and chief creative officer Marek Reichman said there were currently no plans to develop an SUV line smaller than the Porsche Cayenne-sized DBX to take on the Porsche Macan.
However, he did reveal that there is potential in modifying the existing product in much the same way as BMW has so successfully demonstrated with the X5-derived X6 coupe/crossover and X7 seven-seater wagon SUVs.
“We’ll never go down (in size),” Mr Reichman told GoAuto. “Not necessarily up, but maybe it’s less capacity. So, the wheelbase may remain the same, but maybe the box shrinks a little bit.
“Because in terms of downsizing, we are never going to be a Macan versus a Cayenne. Cayenne/DBX (sizing) is core, so downsizing then comes silhouette, upsizing is relatively simple, and that’s a potential … you could do both off that platform.”
Given the limited resources and financial difficulties the company is currently experiencing, Mr Reichman believes that Aston Martin’s survival rests squarely on the success of SUVs, and that models like the DBX – the first high-riding off-road wagon the brand has ever produced – will form the backbone of the company moving forward.
“It’s vitally important to us, obviously,” he said. “Arguably one of the most important products that (we’ve ever launched).
“Of course, the core is always important; DB11 was important to start this second century with a new car. But DBX is fundamental. We’ve invested in a brand-new factory in Wales to build this car. It’s a volume product that will see us grow the company and the business.
“And part of the reason for doing it is that maybe the market has and will shift more that way, so it’s even more fundamental. Everyone else is there, bar McLaren.
“Ferrari have announced that they’re doing it. The only ones in our sector that won’t be there currently is McLaren.
“We can’t just follow the market; we have to do our own research, which is really important. But then you start to see that everybody else is doing it, and the success rate.
“Look at Urus. It is arguably the main product at Lamborghini. Their sportscar sales have declined.”
Mr Reichman said there is a ready-made pool of customers waiting for a luxury Aston Martin SUV, adding that the DBX has already opened the brand up to consumers who would never have considered the marque before.
“As we did our market research and testing, we discovered that 72 per cent of the existing customers have an SUV,” he said. “So, you already have a market which is sitting there waiting.
“And until DBX, they had to choose a Porsche, a Land Rover, a Bentley, a Rolls-Royce etc, so already we know there are potential customers there, and we have very loyal fans.
“But, what we’re seeing in the initial uptake of retail sales of DBX – and right now we are effectively sold out for the first year – is that 50 per cent of them are new-to-brand. And in all of the other (non-DBX) statistics, 95 per cent are male purchase and driver; DBX opens us up to a completely new consumer in the female market.
“Plus, China is already split 50:50 male/female, and it’s about 35-years-old median age versus 45, so it’s 10 years younger.
“So it’s more about casting off the old skin, because the old skin was a white guy in a pair of brogues – when I arrived 15 years ago, the archetype was a 54-year-old white male wearing brogues. And part of it is to open up our boundaries to more females, and more ethnicity, etc.”
As reported, the DBX is priced from $357,000 plus on-road costs in Australia, and this year’s allocation – due to begin arriving in May – is already sold out.
Aston Martin’s Australasian division recently managed to a small extra allocation from the new factory in St Athan, Wales, which should arrive by December.
The St Athan plant has a maximum annual capacity of 5000 units and Aston’s stated target is 4000 units in 2021.
The factory was also established to build all-new all-electric models for the reborn Lagonda brand, starting with a DBX-based SUV from 2022, however those plans were recently put on hold as the company re-evaluates its ‘Second Century Plan’ in the wake of financial difficulties and a fresh injection of capital from investors.
This should, in turn, see DBX production free up, and could also pave the way for new derivatives of the DBX to be fast-tracked.
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