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DUBAI: I had the privilege of taking a look at the Aston Martin DBX a few years ago at the automaker’s main production plant in Warwickshire, UK, when it was still in the concept phase, and it looked stunning back then.

A super SUV from the maker of the favorite car of James Bond, the legendary British spy? Who would say no to that idea? Not the elite of car lovers in the Middle East, that’s for sure, and I remember telling the Aston executives at the time that they should bring the car to the Gulf as soon as possible because it would be a guaranteed hit.

A lot has happened at Aston since then, but it’s reassuring to know that the company has delivered on the promise of the super SUV that you can now see and buy in Gulf cities. It’s also reassuring to know that my judgment at the time has been proven correct – the DBX is a real head turner.

Aston was placed under new management last year to help the company through another period of financial pressure caused by a combination of Brexit, stock market problems and the shock of the Covid-19 pandemic.

But these problems have not distracted the company from its core mission: designing, manufacturing and selling top-of-the-range cars that have an unmistakable British flair and, at the same time, a certain level of excitement and – even – danger that other elite brands do not offer: the Bond legacy.

But how does it combine that with the comfort, accessibility and adaptability of an SUV? Other supercar makers have tried with varying degrees of success, but I think the DBX has created an off-roader that retains the panache and glamour of its sports car counterparts better than most.

In the DBX, one could imagine Mrs Bond taking the kids to school and shopping at the supermarket before handing the keys to James for a bit of secret espionage. Mr Bond would surely be delighted to get the chance to drive it.

The model I got to test drive in Dubai was a real head turner. My favourite valet at one of Dubai’s glamorous five-star hotels – who knows a thing or two about luxury cars, having parked them all – took a sharp breath when he saw the matte Xenon Grey body paint, which gave the DBX a rather grim, but also very muscular and powerful look.

The wheels are large even by SUV standards and would be guaranteed to take you to the top of even the most challenging sand dune if that were your goal, or simply enhance the DBX’s roadholding qualities even at high speed and in sharp corners.

A 4.0-litre V8 turbo engine – from Aston’s German partner Mercedes – will take you from 0-100 km/h in 4.5 seconds and enable a top speed of just under 300 km/h. That will satisfy Mrs Bond. James might want a bit more, but that’s a minor thing – and in any case he could switch on the Sport+ mode when chasing a bad guy.

The Aston’s sound system – wrapped in leather like the rest of the interior – blares the decibels from 14 strategically placed speakers, so you can hear the music even over the distinctive deep growl of the engine.

It’s definitely an SUV, with plenty of room and comfort in the back and a trunk that can fit everything you need, including the dog. (One option is a pet package that includes a post-walk muddy paw wash facility, which would be equally useful for sandy feet.)

What I particularly liked was the huge sunroof that could be pulled back to give a view of the skyline and instantly make the interior feel even more spacious. Great for nighttime drives through the high-rise cities of the Middle East.

The DBX starts at AED 837,000 ($228,000), but extras – courtesy of Aston’s Q division – probably make it an investment of close to AED 1 million. That’s well worth it for a car that combines heritage, power and urban elegance in a very head-turning package.

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