DBX is Aston Martin’s shock SUV concept

This is an Aston Martin SUV. Or rather it's a concept for one. And for once, manufacturer talk of “challenging convention” is entirely justified.

The Aston Martin DBX is like no other SUV-crossover we've yet seen. There are shades of Spyker's D12 crossover, and perhaps the loopy Audi Nanuk concept of a couple of years ago. But on the whole, the DBX is a far more cohesive bit of design than we dared hope for.

While it's a crossover in height, it's more sports car in shape, though Aston promises comfortable seating for four adults. The shape of the grille and the rear light design bear resemblance to current Aston products, though equally this appears to be an expressive design exercise for Aston's next phase of cars (not least inside).

This concept is electric-powered and all-wheel drive. Quite what follows in production form remains to be seen. But an Aston SUV will happen, something of a change of heart.

So says new boss Andy Palmer, who appears to have fast-tracked the project through. "We will, in due course, be entering a car into the new DBX space," says Palmer, "and I am very much looking forward to seeing how this concept is received not only here today, but also by our legion of existing loyal customers and by those potential customers around the world who have, to this point, yet to consider one of our cars."

So like it or lump it, the DBX – or something along similar lines – lies in Aston's future. Excited? Appalled?

UPDATE: Here's Paul Horrell with more on the DBX from new Aston boss Andy Palmer

This car is very much the brainchild of Aston's new CEO Andy Palmer. He tells us he'd been imagining it during his “gardening leave” between leaving his old job at Nissan and starting at Aston.

So on his fourth day at Gaydon, Palmer briefed the designers to get cracking on what has become the DBX. If they really do get it into showrooms by 2020, that's quick work.

Palmer says Aston's production SUV will be a five-door, but the design themes and the positioning of this three-door DBX concept will live to production before the end of this decade.

The DBX's roof is notably lower than the big SUVs coming out of Bentley or Maserati, but it still has the high seating position that makes people so good about being in a SUV. It's just that this one emphasises the “sport” over the “utility”.

Why an SUV? Because Aston's core sports-car business won't get it much trade in the emerging Russian, Brazilian and especially Chinese markets.

Why an EV? Because Aston, if it does grow, will lose the exemptions it currently enjoys from corporate average CO2 thresholds.

The electric powertrain is far from vapourware. Palmer, remember, was the engineer who drove the Nissan Leaf into production. The DBX's motors (one for each wheel) and batteries (the medium-future lithium sulphur type) might not get to production untouched, but the Aston SUV will be an EV of some kind, in some of its versions.

Mind you, there's clearly room for a big V-engine under that bonnet, too...

A version of this story originally appeared on TopGear.com.

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