Aston Martin is busy testing its first-ever SUV, the Aston Martin DBX, with sights set firmly on the Volkswagen Group's extensive portfolio of luxurious crossovers – particularly the Porsche Cayenne.
"The previous-generation Porsche Cayenne, which is where we really started the journey, was essentially probably one of the best in the market at the time in terms of the balance between ride and handling and other attributes in the car," he explained.
"But the Porsche now has kind of moved the game along again, with the new Volkswagen- and Audi-created platform, so the level of refinement has come up in that car," he went on, "but we're confident with what we've done in targeting other cars like the Range Rover's refinement, where you can have that level of refinement too."
Asked how the DBX will differ from something like the Bentley Bentayga, Hartley was confident handling would be a key differentiator.
"In terms of a Bentayga, we're focusing on the true Aston Martin DNA – so dynamics. The car's gonna handle really well, priority on steering, and it'll also have a high level of luxury inside," Hartley continued.
"So [separating it] from a Bentayga is the performance side... we have Porsche Cayenne Turbo as a benchmark car. Ultimately, the Cayenne is going to be a lot higher volume than what we're gonna be pitching today. [The DBX is] a luxury sports SUV."
Aston Martin hasn't confirmed the DBX's drivetrain, but CarAdvice understands it'll share the Mercedes-derived twin-turbocharged V8 with the Vantage. It produces 375kW of power and 685Nm of torque, but the DBX is expected to combine it with permanent all-wheel drive and a torque-converter automatic transmission.
The final production version of the DBX is expected to be revealed later this year before going on sale late 2019 or early 2020.