From snow to heat, we put Aston Martin’s DBX707 through punishing paces in Japan and Singapore
More sports car than SUV, Aston Martin’s DBX707 impresses with its razor-sharp agility.
When life gives you lemons, make donuts on ice. That is, ostensibly, what you do when you’re scheduled to test-drive the Aston Martin DBX707 at Fuji Speedway, but the track is completely snowed out the day of.
Oh, what a glorious sight it would have been, racing the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 SUV on the former Formula One track, with Mount Fuji as a stunning backdrop. The famed Fuji Speedway circuit had hosted the first Formula One Japanese Grand Prix in 1976, and last featured on the F1 calendar in 2007, before the race moved to the Suzuka Circuit, currently one of the oldest remaining tracks still used in the Formula One World Championship.
Today, Fuji Speedway continues to host an exciting line-up of other motorsports races including the Japanese Super Formula Championship, the Super GT, and the FIA World Endurance Championship. So imagine our excitement at the prospect of testing the DBX707, which has been appointed the Official FIA Medical Car of the new 2023 Formula 1 season, on this historical circuit once graced by F1 greats the likes of Nicki Lauda and Gilles Villeneuve.
A PILGRIMAGE FOR PETROLHEADS
We had arrived the day before and checked into Fuji Speedway Hotel, which is part of The Unbound Collection by Hyatt located in the Shizuoka Prefecture a stone’s throw from the track, and were greeted by the most magnificent view of the mountain in her full majesty, resplendent in sunshine, direct from the comfort of our room.
But the gods must have had different plans for us.
The weather turned the very next day and we awoke to heavy snowfall outside our windows. Gone was Fuji-san from sight but in its place, another magical scene came into view, as all around us ‘twas a fairytale landscape dusted in white powder beckoning all our phone cameras.
Now the upside to waiting for the weather to clear was that it gave us ample occasion to visit the Fuji Motorsports Museum, housed on the first three floors of the luxury hotel. Both newly-opened in October 2022, situated about an 80-minute drive from Tokyo.
So if you’re already travelling to the well-loved capital, we’d recommend making a pilgrimage to the museum as it’s a must for die-hard petrolheads, with its awe-inspiring collection of 40 era-defining automobiles from the 19th to 21st century tracing the evolution of modern-day mobility on display.
The journey into 130 years of racing history begins with a remarkably preserved red 1899 Panhard et Levassor B2, then-renowned for its revolutionary front-engine, rear-drive system.
Nearby, you’ll also see a fin de siecle gold-rimmed Thomas Flyer Model L, which claimed victory in the 1908 New York-Paris around-the-world race.
There’s also a silver submarine-shaped Mercedes-Benz W25 on display that won the European Grand Prix in 1935, as well as the Hino Contessa 900 that clinched the top spot in the first-ever Japan Grand Prix in 1963. Here, you’ll also find the Toyota 7 that shocked the world when it beat out American cars at the 1969 Japan Can-Am Race.
Other cool cars of note to lookout for include a beautiful mint green Cisitalia 202C taking pride of place among a collection of dreamy Italian automobiles, not to mention several cars that have conquered the legendary 24-hour endurance race, Le Mans.
As a nod to its hallowed home ground, the museum also explores the emergence of Japanese cars in post-World War II 1950s, with a variety of these pathfinding vehicles on display, such as the Nissan Datsun 210, which placed in the 1958 Round Australia Trial and earned Japanese makes a place on the world stage.
The exhibit then concludes with a look at the future of mobility, showcasing carmakers’ plans to manufacture powerful but carbon-neutral racing vehicles.
Another reason the museum is worth the jaunt out of Tokyo is the pro-level hyper-realistic driving simulator – not the arcade type but those used for practice by pro racers – that’s complimentary for use by hotel guests.
And, there are big plans to further develop the property on which the hotel sits, as part of the integrated Fuji Motorsports Forest development owned by Toyota.
The upcoming Mobilita site, for instance, will offer motorsports enthusiasts the opportunity to test-drive in a variety of simulated road settings, including a 10-hectare extensive flat course, a track with a 35-degree banked turn, and a low friction test road such as a simulated snowy or icy road, when it opens in 2026.
UNFLINCHING STABILITY, GREAT BODY CONTROL
Eventually, the fine folk at Aston Martin decided, as you do when you find the terrain unceremoniously stricken by winter frost, to take us journalists for a spot of ice driving, safely, with an Aston Martin professional driving instructor behind the wheel, of course.
I packed into the front passenger seat eagerly, phone in hand, ready to capture how the DBX707 – the more powerful, more muscular big brother to the DBX – would perform in this sudden change of season that had sprung upon us.
It was thrills and spills galore as the DBX707 crushed ice and spun donuts on the five-minute wet and wild ride during which the car remained remarkably unruffled in all the kerfuffle as we were gleefully thrown about the cabin. Unflinchingly stable with such great body control. This, an SUV? Make that super SUV.
According to Aston Martin, this is thanks to the car’s eARC system, which mainlines stability through the body of the car and keeps the DBX707’s roll to within 0.7 degrees while gliding around a corner or threading thunder through a hairpin – even less than in a two-door sports car!
Truth be told, though, we were more than a little disappointed at missing out on the opportunity to experience the car’s full 707ps of power (697hp) and 900Nm torque at full throttle on Japan’s most storied racetrack for ourselves. Nor the blistering 3.3-second century sprint and 310km/h top speed the SUV promises on paper. Or the autonomous Launch Control in Sports+ mode – a first for the DBX – that allows instant, 100 per cent torque through the powertrain.
But going home with a surprise virgin donut experience on ice in one of the world’s most powerful SUVs in the memory bank ain’t half bad.
Driving back to Tokyo in heavy downpour, the DBX707 again showed itself supremely surefooted on the busy motorways, with certainly no complaints on comfort from all passengers enjoying the luxurious cabin in the five-seater SUV.
PINPOINT PRECISION, RAZOR-SHARP AGILITY
Delectable donuts notwithstanding, it all felt a little like smelling chocolate chip cookies baking in the kitchen but not getting to eat them – and the DBX707 will certainly leave you craving more so I took it out for another spin back in Singapore.
Finally, I got to experience the DBX707’s razor-sharp agility as it climbed the 100m elevation of Mount Faber, attacking corners with pinpoint accuracy; its 9-speed transmission and wet plate clutch (a first in any luxury SUV) firing 30 per cent faster gear changes and handling more torque than a typical torque converter clearly showing off on its 23-inch wheels for good measure.Up and down the modest mount I whizzed with relish, as the DBX707’s quad exhaust grumbled hungrily. Boy, was it mightily addictive.
Worth special mention here are the DBX707’s giant 420mm carbon ceramic brakes (comes as standard) whose prowess on the descent professed a resistance to fade that is utterly outstanding.
“Needle-eyed precision at the twitch of an ankle”, Aston Martin’s brand marketing calls it.
I’m rather inclined to agree.