Are we really all that SUV crazy?
The Aston Martin DBX came out last week, and it left me asking how desperate do we have to be to make a buck?
Current industry market research shows that the past 5 years of the automotive market has been driven by a female skewed demographic, hence our obsession with SUVs. It also shows that the 5 years prior to that were much the same, hence a previous obsession with small vehicles. Data also shows that females are likely to spend less on automotive and are more likely to buy practically. As such and to most of societies surprise the product design and specification teams who bring these vehicles to market are spending more and more time with female skewed focus groups.
But that's all about to change, and automotive manufacturers have picked up on this. Because we're going through what is classed as a world economic downturn and if uncorrected will also be known as a recession. And when that happens the first spending to get cut is non essential items, like for example automotive. So where wealthier families were classically accepting of Dad's mid-life crisis Ferrari, right now they're looking at ways to tighten their belt.
Enter the automotive manufacturer's savior, performance SUVs. It's the rich man's austerity mid-life crisis. A way that Dad can still have fun on the road but one where Mum can still steal the car when her Range Rover is getting serviced. Or that can fit all of the kids' friends on sleepover nights. It was the perfect idea. BMW kicked the trend off with the X5M, than Range Rover with the SVR, Bentley with the Bentayga, Rolls Royce with the Cullinun, Lamborghini with the Urus and finally Aston Martin with the DBX.
The whole thing has sort of kicked off a USSR/USA space race style competition as well. Who can have the fastest, the most luxurious, SUV? And frankly, it has an air of sadness and cheapness about it. Like we're fighting over bloody nothing.
And that brings me to my point today, if you can't win? And you know you can't? Than what the hell is the point of entering at all? To get the most improved prize? Or the best style prize?
I'll digress, I think Aston Martin's DBX is going to be sh*t. And that's the point where you're all meant to gasp. Because long time readers of my work will know that I'm the biggest Aston Martin fan boy of all time. But it's because Aston Martin tried to be different. They didn't enter the competition, classically, they just did them. All cars in the DB range were just cool, I mean they were fast, but they were cool. And that's the point of the Aston Martin.
Here's the thing, SUVs which aren't Range Rovers are not cool. The Cullinun is not cool (why didn't you buy a Ghost you idiot), the Bentayga isn't cool (why didn't you buy a Range Rover you idiot) and, well, I was going to say the Urus isn't all that cool. But the Urus is cool and there's a good reason behind it. It's because that car isn't just the fastest combustion SUV on earth at the moment. It's because it looks good from top to bottom. The only problem is the name but it's a bloody Italian word so who cares?
So why, you ask, do you think the DBX is going to be sh*t? I mean it looks awesome right? Yes, it is probably the best looking SUV of the lot. And kudos to Aston for that. But I circle back to my point about the competition. The only reason a performance car company enters the SUV market is to make money, period. That is it, and that means that before you even consider a performance SUV it is instantly uncool. So the next thing you need to do is make your SUV the fastest. And Aston didn't didn't do that.
In fact Aston didn't do anything amazing with the DBX's performance figures at all. I'm actually extremely astounded at how that car can get such terrible performance out of what is meant to be one of the last of the classic, amazing, booming V8 engines. Worse still, being an SUV, it's AWD. That means that whatever torque the engine generates it is almost guaranteed it hits the wheels and therefore the ground as well. It does 0-100km in 4.5 seconds.
To put that into perspective the recently released Volvo XC60 T8 Polestar engineered. Which has a 4 cylinder hybrid turbo and supercharged engine and looks fantastic inside and out, making that car seriously, seriously cool (and priced under $100,000AUD) does the 100km sprint in 5.2 seconds. And it's a bloody hybrid, so when your 80 years old and demented your children are going to ask you whether you want to move into their multiple million dollar house instead of a nursing home because you helped save the environment in your prime time. As opposed to not setting you adrift on ice, mostly because you melted all the ice with your V8 Aston Martin SUV.
With that in mind though, those performance figures do scare me a bit. Lamborghini's Urus does the 100 sprint in 3.5 seconds, the Bentayga's W12 does it in 3.9 seconds, the X5M does it in 4.2 seconds and the Range Rover Sport SVR is on par at 4.5 seconds (though is also $100,000AUD cheaper and 3 years old). So Aston Martin is in essence at the back of the pack.
And so I ask you? Why would you buy the Aston Martin DBX? What actually is the point? If you're spending nearly $400,000AUD on a car why not buy a Range Rover Sport SVR and an F-Type. Or cop the extra $50,000AUD and buy the fastest combustion vehicle on the market. Or save everyone $200,000AUD and the carbon emissions and buy a Tesla Model X.
Aston Martin are so desperate to tap into that performance SUV market at the moment that they're willing to sell their soul, and be not just uncool, but slow, to attempt to capture the hearts and minds of the rich family and be practical. And that annoys me, because Aston Martin are not practical and the DBX is as unpractical as it gets.
So you want a performance SUV because you feel pressure from the world to conform? Should you buy an Aston Martin DBX? Despite what your friends, family and the automotive manufacturers research says, no. No, you shouldn't cave to peer pressure. What you should do is spend $300,000AUD less, buy the Volvo XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered (which is seriously cool) and then spend a mere $200,000AUD more on a 1980s Aston Martin V8 Vantage. A car which is about to appear in the new Bond film, sky rocket in value and oozes cool no matter how many emissions it puts out. That way you're the cool dad, the mid-life crisis husband, the eco-warrior and the petrol head all in one. See? Practicality doesn't need to mean sacrifice.