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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Second Drive: 2021 Aston Martin DBX | Hagerty Media

The 2021 Aston Martin DBX is not a very good car. Does it matter? Don't take the above as snark or callousness. No Aston in postwar history has ever been a particularly good car.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/new-car-reviews/review-2021-aston-martin-dbx-2/
22 REPLIES 22
Flashman
Instructor

One can always depend on you for the truth.
SteveR
Pit Crew

I cannot be the first to observe that this is the first ugly Aston.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

You're at least the second...
Iso_Grifo
Advanced Driver

The thought experiment test for Aston Martins: Would a devil-may-care euro playboy drive it?

Not in your life.

Fail.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

Yeah, not this one.

Alico87
Intermediate Driver

It's sad that it has so many shortcomings. Having seen one in person at an early 2020 Autoshow (just barely pre-Covid) I think it is truly the best looking SUV, and no an SUV will never look as good as a sports car, GT car or sports Sedan. I think the DBX could have been the platform for Aston Martin to go over the top with as an ICE last hurrah and put in a big V12 to make it special and spectacular enough to forgive some shortcomings.
wdb
Detailer

Great review. Maybe give us the straight dope on Jaguars next, please?
Speedraser
Pit Crew

Wow. Jack, I really thought you were better than this.

I’ll largely ignore your comments on the DBX because, as an Aston owner and enthusiast, I hate the idea of an Aston SUV in principle, though I’m aware of the business case. I’ll note that, while I have no interest whatsoever in buying one, I’ve driven it and it was excellent – for a largeish SUV. As a driver’s car, to suggest that the DBX isn’t leagues better than an Escalade is so preposterous that it makes we wonder if you actually drove either. Also, the DBX I drove was put together much better than the one you assessed, and hopefully is more representative of production cars. By the way, compared to the Cullinan, I’d say the DBX is a work of art. But this isn’t what compelled me to reply…

Your description of Aston Martins in general isn’t merely snarky -- it perpetuates untruths, which is truly disappointing. You stated that “no Aston in postwar history has ever been a particularly good car,” that they’re merely “lash-ups of shelf-stock British components” and that they display a “fundamental lack of goodness.” The italics are yours, so compelled were you to emphasize how bad they are. All of them. You’re entitled to you opinion, of course, as am I. In my opinion, yours is grossly incorrect. There have been many Astons that weren’t good cars, even if they were desirable, but there are many that are genuinely good cars.

You state that Aston’s V12 is “two Ford Taurus engines welded together; the lovely Vanquish was hobbled by a Rube Goldberg single-clutch auto-manual, the Vantage was uncomfortably similar to a Jaguar and not that much faster than a base 911.” Let’s discuss:

You say the V12 is two Taurus V6 engines “welded together.” SERIOUSLY??? Shameful, and you really should know better. I can barely believe you are perpetuating this utterly false notion. The V12 is based on the architecture of the Duratec V6, and some components are shared, but let’s tell the truth. When it was decided to build a production V12 for Aston, that engine was designed as a purposed-built V12. The block, crank, heads, cams, etc. were designed and manufactured purely as a V12. There is NO welding, gluing or joining of any kind. Please stop perpetuating such false information.

The Vanquish gearbox was an early single-clutch design, and it left a lot to be desired when it was new. However, it was continuously developed. By the time the Vanquish S was introduced for the 2005 model year, it was greatly improved. Properly set up (by someone who knows how), it works as well as most other similar-vintage single-clutch systems. I bought an ’05 Vanquish S 6 years ago. I spent some money to sort it when I got the car, including setting up the gearbox. It works quite well (again considering it’s a single-clutch system), and the car has been perfectly reliable since. It’s an absolutely superb supercar-GT.

The Vantage: To dismiss the V8 Vantage (2006-2017 VH-generation) as “uncomfortably similar to a Jaguar” is simply ridiculous. Which Jag? The contemporary XK? That’s a much larger, heavier GT car, not available with a manual gearbox, and is a 2+2. The F-type was more similar, but was introduced many years later. Are their looks somewhat similar? Yes, but not that similar, and they are all 2-door “fastback” coupes (or convertibles), so there are always going to be similarities. I love Jags, but the differences between Jags and Astons are quite clear if one actually looks at them.

I have a 2009 V8 Vantage (manual ‘box) that I bought new. It’s a genuinely excellent car. It has been completely reliable. It is great to drive, to look at and to own. It handles with that wonderfully exploitable balance that very well-balanced front-mid-engined cars with a transaxle exhibit. The build quality is superb – the materials quality, the fit and finish, and the attention to detail are exquisite. There are few parts-bin switches – most of the controls are bespoke, and beautifully done. There is very little plastic, and everything that looks like metal is metal – no fakery. There is one small section of interior stitching that is less than perfectly straight – surely because it was done by a person – and yes, I’m fine with that. The flush-fitting aluminum door handle is beautifully made and displays nothing resembling “flimsiness.” The car’s structure is immensely stiff (confirmed by the structural rigidity figures), and nothing rattles or squeaks. The engine sounds epic, and has none of the fundamental self-destructive weaknesses that too many recent Porsche and BMW engines have. My experience with my Vantage is not at all unusual – I know many owners, and most of them have also had superb service from their Vantages. It’s a real jewel of a car, special in a way that a Porsche, BMW, Mercedes, Audi or Jaguar simply isn’t (I've owned them too). Even after almost 12 years, every drive is an event.

Aston has made its share of not-very-good cars, but they’ve also made many genuinely great cars. It shouldn’t be hard to acknowledge the great, along with the good, the bad and the ugly.
Oldmanhiker
Pit Crew

Speedraser,  your rebuttal of Mr. Baruth's "review" is spot-on....however one should approach Jack's article's as being pure entertainment (which indeed they are!) as opposed to actually being totally factual.  If you want another honest opinion column (Jack's op/ed columns are most certainly his own honest opinion)  that does not strike quite as many discordant notes, read any/all of Rob Seigel's eloquently written articles.  Baruth/Seigel...yin and yang.

Speedraser
Pit Crew

Thanks. I agree Jack's columns are entertainmnent, and I usually enjoy them as such. But many people take them, or at least much of the information, as fact -- as evidenced by some of the comments here. A rebuttal was required!
KGuy
New Driver

As a new user on this forum/website I agree with Speedraser above. I recently had the pleasure to test drive the DBX and in fact placed an order immediately thereafter. Let me also add that I sold my Bentayga just before this purchase. In addition I also have the RR Wraith in my garage and have owned a Ghost, a 458 Italia, a 430 scuderia, a 612 Scaglietti, a Continental GT Speed, a Flying Spur, a Viper (to go with the author's Neon comment), Gallardo, a Jaguar ipace and a F Type R, several MBenz including the G, GL, S coupe, SL conv, etc the new Navigator (to go with the comparison of the Escalade and lincoln).

My reason to list out the above is to strictly point out that I do have a reasonable experience in "luxury" and "sports" cars. 

I cannot believe the way the article starts and in fact I scrolled down to the comments first before I finished the rest of the article.

So if the article was indeed written after multiple drinks while admiring a Dodge Neon, I get it.

But otherwise I am shocked at the content.

Dodge Neon and Cadillac Escalade "comparison" with the DBX. 

Nuff said, I am out. 

Peace.

Bronxville39
Pit Crew

Great factual rebuttal and well deserved too!
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

Let me start by thanking you for this thorough (and thoroughly reasoned) comment.

Everything you've said in defense of the Vantage I can say in defense of the Neon SRT-4, from the uniquity of the engine to the surprisingly robust way some parts of it are built. And as someone who has owned and competed in Neons since 1995, I can quote chapter and verse in defense of the cars, complete with various facts and figures.

None of this changes the way the Neon performed in the marketplace, nor does it change the way the Neon is perceived by the general public. The verdict on the first-generation Vantage has been rendered by the market: as a used car it's not worth as much as a Cayman of the same year.

I love my Neons. You love your Vantage. We are both lucky to have something we love. But not many people feel the way we do.

With regards to the DBX vs. Escalade, I'll stand by my comment, and we'll see what the market says about both of them when they are five years old.

Thank you for reading and I'm sorry to have disappointed you with my casual comments. You'll note that I closed this column by recommending the purchase of a Vantage; surely you cannot be too annoyed by that.
vince
New Driver

Never read such a joke of a review before
Bronxville39
Pit Crew

WOW! So much for the Aston DBX!
AetheraNobis
Pit Crew

Bravo Speedraser.

It's really frustrating to have to read a story that begins myths that undermine the credibility of the rest of the article. They could have been easily researched - and honestly they seem a bit like a childish taunt you'd hear on the playground in Grade School from someone who was left out of a game. Dismissing pre-Ford Astons as unreliable "lash-ups of off-the-shelf British components" is fun to read - but doesn't describe Aston Martins accurately. Simply look up the specs, and talk to actual owners - I know several who can confirm that a properly maintained classic Aston is as reliable or more so than most similar cars of its era. The welded together V12 story is not even figuratively true, and an automotive writer should know better. Having owned an early V12 Vanquish, I can tell you that the transmission is wonderful and reliable when used as intended. Yes, I know a well-known journalist was a loud critic - and these cars are rare enough that most people have never driven one so they repeat what they've heard. However, reading the road tests from the three major US magazines when the Vanquish debuted provides a different perspective - they had a strong positive slant as have many who've driven the cars recently. I understand that some people will only accept three pedals, but single clutch F1 transmissions are involving and fun when driven well. Many owners love them. Finally, have also owned a V8 Vantage for 14 years and it's a fantastic car. It's been more reliable than my neighbor's Camcordia - and a total blast to experience. Again, while I get that this is entertainment rather than information, just flat out say you're prejudiced against Aston Martins rather than throw ill informed innuendo, rumor, and stereotypes out there to set the stage for your story.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

For the record, I have some single-clutch Aston experience, some of which is summarized here:

https://www.roadandtrack.com/new-cars/car-comparison-tests/a6337/chevrolet-camaro-z28-vs-dodge-viper...

I was able to shift the manual box in the Viper faster than the single-clutch could shift for itself in the Aston. Your mileage, as they say, may vary.
AetheraNobis
Pit Crew

PS: As the story had me seeing red, my response is missing the word "with" between "begins" and "myths" as it starts. And yes the article did generate an emotional reaction, so it qualifies as art. Perhaps my response is even a bit defensive. All that said, I hate it when people pick on the little guy - especially when they do so in ways that are intellectually dishonest. Whether the DBX is good or not, I don't know. But I do know that the comments that begin the story are not true, and aren't fair.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

I don't think I'm picking on "the little guy" here. Aston is no longer David Brown's personal project. It's a global brand with billionaire investors and a Mercedes-Benz partnership.

To be forthright, I'd have given a 1969 DBS a much kinder review back in the day, solely for that reason. I have a review coming up of a Bufori that will note the small-batch nature of the car. With Aston I'm no longer sure this applies.
Speedraser
Pit Crew

Jack, I appreciate your reply. So let’s discuss some more.

Have you ever looked closely at a V8 Vantage, or other VH-era Aston? I mean no disrespect to the Neon, but… No, you cannot say everything about a Neon SRT-4 that I said about the Vantage. The materials quality, fit and finish, attention to detail, etc., are exquisite. Look at the paint – it’s absolutely stunning. I’ve been asked if I had mine custom-painted at huge expense because, they said, no factory paint looks that good. But it does. Look at the gorgeous machined-from-a-plate-of-aluminum instruments that are a work of art, and mimic the shape of the grille. Only the analog speedometer is hard to read, and the digital readout renders that a non-issue. The Vantage looks and feels like it’s worth every dollar it cost new. I also mentioned its front-mid-engined-and-a-transaxle handling balance. None of these things can be said about the Neon SRT-4 – but I’m confident that these things aren’t why you love them (to be clear, I haven’t driven one, and I assume the Neon SRT-4 handles very well – but in a very different way given that it’s front-wheel drive). Something I didn’t say before: Look underneath at the beautifully-made aluminum structure, or under the hood, where you can also see the structure and its superb craftsmanship, as well as the lovely dry sump tank.

Market value: In no way do I consider used market value “the verdict” on a car. There are SO MANY factors that go into market value. Pure popularity is a major factor, of course, but surely the most popular thing is not necessarily the best. Astons have never been the default or mainstream choice, and I like that. Markets reward demand, and being the mainstream/default choice usually means greater demand. Many people love Astons, but many are afraid of them. That is not helped by automotive journalists casually writing that Astons are crap! Also, many people have no idea what an Aston Martin is, even if they’ve heard the name. People ask me “what kind of car is that?” all the time. All this said, it is simply untrue that a Cayman is worth more than a similar-year Vantage -- a Vantage is worth more, and by a large margin. A Vantage is worth less than a 997, however, which seems ludicrous to me – especially the 997.1 with their potentially catastrophic engine issues. Yes, the internet makes that seem worse than it is, but the failure rate is still much, much too high (by the way, I like Porsches and have owned 911s). I do find it somewhat amusing, and a bit sad, to hear some Porsche fans -- especially 996/986/997/987 owners -- tell people how Astons are unreliable, poorly made, generally not any good, etc.

The Vanquish gearbox: I’m quite sure I can change gear in my manual Vantage as quickly as my Vanquish S will on a paddle pull, but when the Vanquish was new (in improved S form) it was fairly typical of its type. It requires driver input to get the best out of it, and I enjoy that – it gives some of the involvement back that is otherwise lost with paddle systems. I appreciate the engineering of a DCT and the best modern torque-converter automatics, and I respect what they can do, but they require no more driver input than a paddle pull. I’ll always prefer 3 pedals and a gear lever. Always.

The Little Guy: I think Aston still is the little guy. Not as little as they were, certainly, but compared to almost everything else. Annual production of 4-figures is tiny today. That’s why they’re buying Benz engines, which breaks my heart. About the DBX, much as I hate in principle to defend an Aston SUV, I think it’s very good at what it is trying to do. I do hope it sells well enough to serve its purpose – to hopefully prevent Astons from becoming Benz-based, and forever Benz-powered, not-really Astons. Maybe you should try another DBX and see if it’s better.

I did notice that you recommended purchasing a V8 Vantage, and I’ll second that. At current prices, the value for money is off the charts. From my experience, the VH-generation Vantage is a great drive, beautifully engineered, a true work of art, and very reliable. It’s a real jewel of a car, and it would be desirable even if it wasn’t a good car. Happily, it’s also a genuinely good car.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

Perhaps if you have time you would like to detail some of the case for buying a Vantage in an email, for a future column on this topic?

I'm at jbaruth - at - Hagerty.com... thank you!
Speedraser
Pit Crew

Jack, thanks for the note. Perhaps I would... I'll email you.