The Octola Lodge, Rovaniemi – a hygge haven, co-owned by F1 megastar Mika Häkkinen and tucked away in the snow-coated wilderness of northern Finland – is not an easy place to tear yourself away from. 

The band of motoring enthusiasts stepping away from its cosy hearth into sun-kissed minus-22 Celsius temperatures, though, cannot wait to make the short minibus trip over to a dedicated private area, covered with snaking snow tracks. Because here in this rarefied setting, we will be testing the on-ice capabilities of the world’s most accomplished high-performance SUV: the DBX707. 

Greeted by a multi-hued fleet of Aston Martins (including one bearing the marque’s new F1 livery), poised for action outside our cosy HQ for the day, I select one in Arden Green Metallic, get comfy in the driver’s seat and, basking in the warmth and the luxuriant smell of premium leather, give the accelerator a toe twitch or two. A baritone roar from the 707PS, twin-turbo 4.0-liter powertrain beneath the bonnet is a stark reminder of the need for caution ahead. 

The closest thing I have to a co-driver today is the centre console to my right: the central dial on which I will have as much bearing as the pedals at my feet and the steering wheel in my right hand when it comes to getting the most out of the ice-driving experience before me. 

“Good traction and a predictable, yet agile, handling balance” is how the DBX707’s Senior Vehicle Engineering Manager, Andy Tokley, describes this vehicle’s unique ability to hold its own in such adverse conditions. Today, though, is not just about getting from A to B: it’s about fun, and twists and prods of the controls on this interface will determine how much autonomy I, the driver, will have over the vehicle and in what circumstances the car’s smart stability functionality will intervene – in the process maximising both safety and the adrenalin factor involved in making the cars slip, slide and glide but in a controlled manner.

“The DBX707 employs active centre and rear differentials to control wheel speeds and maintain optimum handling balance even if the road surface has variable grip levels,” explains Tokley. “The active roll control system also adjusts the balance of the car depending upon the lateral acceleration being generated at the time, further optimising the handling performance.” And, his words certainly ring true as having crawled up to a practice lap zone, we slip the cars into sport-plus mode, prod the traction control so that it’s only partially engaged and carry out a warm-up exercise that helps us get a feel for the car and conditions. 

After about 10 figure-of-eight laps, during which we rehearse gentle acceleration on the turn in order to make the car drift elegantly around the apexes of the lap shape, it’s time to return to “Terrain” mode and head in convoy to a ring of track, its single lane of hard-packed snow flanked by vertical snow ‘walls’, specially designed for controlled doughnuts. 

Here, we take leave of traction control entirely and take it in turns to try and find that perfect sweet spot – a harmonious interaction between steering and throttle position – whereby the car performs sliding circumferences with no steering required, an abundant spray of snow making the act all the more spectacular for both driver and the envious queue of fellow participants waiting to try and emulate the feat. 

Next, it’s off to a large, serpentine track close by to put all we’ve learned – and also unlearned, given that mastering ice-driving involves resisting the temptation to “correct” the car with the steering wheel when you really don’t need to – to the test. 

“Playful yet predictable” is how Tokley describes the DBX707’s behaviours in this scenario, with drivers allowed to discover what kind of exhilarating slides they can coax out of a vehicle they’ve spent the morning getting a feel for. “You can generate oversteer that is very easy to manage as the yaw rates are low,” he adds. “The chassis and powertrain systems are tuned together to deliver an authentic experience, more similar to a rear-wheel-drive car but with the traction benefits of four-wheel drive.”

The driving experience complete, and keys having been handed back reluctantly to our amiable companions in Aston Martin-branded winterwear, other activities – from snowmobiling to quad biking, via cross-country skiing, tobogganing, husky sledging and guided snowshoe excursions/reindeer spotting – are all on offer back at Octola. 

But that evening, the fireside conversations between whisky-sipping participants – all glancing occasionally through the lodge’s vast windows in case the aurora borealis makes an appearance – are all about a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience, driving the most sophisticated performance SUVs ever made in conditions that coax out a normally hidden side to their character.