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DUBAI: I had the privilege of seeing 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 it looked like a stunner.

Super SUV from the manufacturer of the vehicle of choice for James Bond, the legendary British spy? Who would say no to this idea? Certainly not elite car fans 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 soon as possible because it was sure to be a winner.

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

Aston has come under new management in the past year, helping it weather another burst of financial pressure brought on by a combination of Brexit, stock market woes and the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But he hasn’t let those problems distract him from his core business – designing, building and selling premium vehicles that have a distinctively British flavour, as well as a degree of excitement and – even – danger that other elite marques lack. Bond’s legacy.

But how do you combine this with the comfort, affordability and flexibility of an SUV? Other supercar manufacturers have tried this with varying degrees of success, but I think DBX has produced an off-roader that retains the pizzazz and glamor of its sports car cousins ​​better than most.

In DBX, you can imagine Mrs. Bond dropping the kids off at school and doing the grocery shopping at the supermarket before returning the keys to James for the secret spy site. Mr. Bond would be delighted to have the opportunity to drive it, I assure you.

The one I was lucky enough to try out in Dubai impressed. My favorite hotel valet at one of Dubai’s glitzy five-star hotels – who knows a thing or two about luxury cars, having parked them all – gasped sharply at the matte xenon gray body paint that made the DBX look rather ominous, but also very muscular and strong.

The wheels are big, even by SUV standards, and would definitely get you to the top of even the toughest sand dune if that was your goal, or just add to the road holding qualities the DBX has even at high speeds and sharp corners.

The 4.0-liter turbocharged V8 engine — from Aston’s German partner Mercedes — propels you from 0-100 km/h in 4.5 seconds and reaches a top speed of just under 300 km/h. Mrs. Bond will be fine with that. James might have wanted a bit more, but that’s a minor quibble – in any case, I could switch it into Sport+ mode when chasing a villain.

The Aston’s sound system — clad in leather like the rest of the interior — blasts decibels through 14 strategically placed speakers that let you hear the music even over the engine’s signature deep throaty growl.

It’s an SUV for sure, with plenty of room and comfort in the back and a trunk that will carry everything you want, including your dog. (One option is a pet package that includes the ability to wash muddy paws after a walk, which would be just as beneficial for sandy feet.)

One thing I really liked was the huge sunroof that pulled back to give you a view of the horizon and instantly made the interior look even more spacious. Great for overnight cruising in the high-rise cities of the Middle East.

The DBX starts at AED 837,000 ($228,000), but extras – courtesy of Aston’s Q department – ​​are likely to mean an investment of almost AED 1 million. That’s great value for a car that combines heritage, power and urban sophistication in one eye-catching package.

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