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DUBAI: I had the privilege of getting a glimpse of the Aston Martin DBX a few years ago at the carmaker’s main production facility in Warwickshire, UK, when it was still in the concept stage, and at the time it looked knocked out.

A super SUV from the manufacturer of James Bond’s vehicle, the legendary British spy? Who would say no to this idea? They’re not elite car enthusiasts in the Middle East, that’s for sure, and I remember telling the Aston executives at the time to get the car to the Gulf as quickly as possible because it was sure to win.

A lot has happened at Aston since then, but it’s comforting to know that the company has delivered on its promise of a super SUV that can now be viewed and purchased in Gulf cities. It’s also reassuring that my judgment at the time turned out to be correct – the DBX is a real show-stopper.

Aston has been under new management over the past year to help it weather further financial pressure from Brexit, stock market woes and the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But he hasn’t let those problems distract him from the main job – designing, building and selling top-of-the-line vehicles with a distinctly British flavor and excitement and – even – danger that other elite brands don’t have. The Bond legacy.

But how do you combine this with the comfort, accessibility and adaptability of an SUV? Other supercar manufacturers have tried it, with varying degrees of success, but I think the DBX has created an SUV that retains the pizzazz and glitz of its sports car stablemates better than most.

In DBX, you can imagine Mrs. Bond dropping the kids off at school and doing some shopping at a supermarket before returning the keys to James for some undercover espionage. Mr. Bond would love to have the chance to drive, I guarantee it.

The one I was lucky enough to test in Dubai was a real head turner. My favorite hotel valet at a glitzy five-star hotel in Dubai – who knows a thing or two about elite cars after parking them all – took a sharp breath from the matte xenon gray body paint that made the DBX look quite good. sinister but very muscular and powerful.

The wheels are large, even by SUV standards, and would get you to the top of even the most demanding sand dunes if that was the goal, or just to increase the DBX’s handling qualities even at high speeds. and sharp corners.

The 4.0-liter V8 turbo engine from Aston’s German partner, Mercedes, accelerates it from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.5 seconds and has a top speed of just under 300 km/h. Mrs. Bond will be fine with that. James could use a little more, but that’s a minor gripe – and anyway, you can switch it to Sport+ mode when you’re chasing a baddie.

The Aston’s sound system – leather-trimmed like the rest of the interior – cranks out the decibels through 14 strategically placed speakers that allow you to hear the music even above the engine’s distinctive, deep-throated growl.

It’s an SUV for sure, with plenty of space and comfort in the back and a trunk that can carry everything you want, including the dog. (One option is a pet pack that includes a washing option for muddy, post-walk paws, which can also be helpful for sandy feet.)

One thing I really liked was the huge sunroof that retracted to offer views of the city and instantly made the interior even more spacious. Great for night cruises in the high-rise cities of the Middle East.

Prices for the DBX start at AED 837,000 ($228,000), but the extras – courtesy of Aston’s Q-class – are likely to mean an investment of close to AED 1 million. That’s well worth it for a car that combines heritage, performance and urban sophistication in one very head-turning package.

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