Whispers out of Gaydon suggest the Aston Martin DBX is one of the most challenging projects the automaker has ever undertaken. SUVs are a new world for one of Britain’s most storied sports car makers, and everything from the wheels up has to be designed, engineered, and developed. The DBX will initially be available with a 550bhp version of the Daimler-sourced 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8. A plug-in hybrid version due in 2021 will use Daimler’s new 3.0-liter L-6 and powertrain electronics. The suspension will feature three-chamber height-adjustable air springs and active anti-roll bars. The all-wheel-drive system will include an active center differential and locking rear diff.
To get the best dynamic performance (Porsche’s latest Cayenne has been the car’s benchmark), the DBX will also have rear tires that are wider than the fronts. Land Rover is rumored to be working on a major redesign of the Discovery even though it’s barely two years into its life cycle. Designed in the early 2000s, the blocky, industrial-chic Discovery 3 and Discovery 4 models (badged LR3 and LR4 in the U.S.) were solid sellers for more than a decade. The new Discovery has proven nowhere near as popular, with sales down 40 percent. Customers have not warmed to current Land Rover design chief Gerry McGovern’s softedged replacement, its plump rump and offset rear license plate representing particular bones of contention. More critically, the upcoming launch of the all-new Defender, code-named L663, presents another problem: Those who’ve seen the new SUV say it’s such a compelling reimagining of Land Rover’s icon that it’s likely to attract disaffected Discovery buyers. So JLR is now rethinking its entire Discovery strategy.
Most industry insiders see the Ford-Volkswagen alliance as a win for both automakers. Collaboration on core hardware for pickups, commercial vans, electric vehicles, and autonomous drive systems should cut costs and boost profits on both sides. But there’s reportedly plenty of head-scratching going on in Wolfsburg over Ford boss Jim Hackett’s seeming reluctance to consummate the deal in person. Sources say Hackett has been invited to VW HQ three times but has yet to show. VW chief Herbert Diess is said to be nonplussed at Hackett’s apparent disengagement given the significance of the deal.