The adventure began in Italy and ended in Vietnam. Since it was in the headquarters of Transalpine Pininfarina, new Vietnamese manufacturer Vinfast unveiled its first electric SUV last year, the VF 8. But if the machine line is built in Piedmont, the company that will land in Europe and in a few months, France is manufactured in Southeast Asia and more precisely at the new plant in Haiphong, northern Vietnam.
The capacity of the second battery is 87.7 kW, not 93 kW, as shown in the video
Usually, when the factory organizes tests intended for the press, they are conducted on open roads, or in the best case, on a circuit chartered for the occasion. Not in Vinfast, which has the luxury of combining the two, in its own stronghold, or rather on the island to which it belongs, which is dotted with entirely private roads. This island is located in the south of Vietnam, in the China Sea, not far from the coastal resort of Nha Trang.
But what can a car maker do with an island? Vinfast is backed by the all-powerful Vingroup, the country’s leading private company with an annual turnover of 14 billion. A group with multiple activities ranging from telephonic to trading, including medical, educational and real estate, including island.
Somewhat harmless streak
VF8 is perched on its island, so it looks at us with its V-shaped net, so as not to forget its name. In the passenger compartment, too, the V was wrapped above the dashboard. These two elements are also necessary, because, perhaps, they are the only ones that distinguish the Vietnamese SUV from its peers in circulation. Fairly large, at 4.75 meters in length, those in the range of the Audi Q4 E Tron and BMW ix 3 are completely harmless in their lines, at least not in violation of the established rules.
You don’t loosen your neck when you see it on the street, but Pininfarina has at least succeeded in smoothing out the lines of a machine that, by its size, would have quickly turned clumsy if passed under a pencil. Bad designer. Is this streak, rather innocuous for a new plant to note, the cause of the split between Italians and Vietnamese? However, the very large VF9 SUV, which we’ll talk about shortly, and the upcoming small VF7, has a more divisive and impressive design and is signed by another Italian-style office: Torino Design.
But let’s go back to our island and VF8 where a very Asian heyday reigns in the cabin. Aside from the traditional steering-wheel stems and controls, there is no button that obstructs the view of the driver and passengers. Everything is brought together on a huge 15.6″ screen that is horizontal and centrally placed. We immediately draw an analogy with Tesla, who has been doing this from the very beginning.
You also think about it by turning on the screen in question, which allows you to all the necessary settings, including those that allow you to open the sunroof. Because like the American system, the Vietnamese system is quite fluid, which is not always the case for European manufacturers, even those considered excellent.
Premium, word is out, and Vinfast has always displayed its ambitions in the field. Could this VF8 engine be aimed at hunting on the ground of a Mercedes EQC for example? Yes and no. Not because of the materials used, especially some slightly plastic ones Cheap On the center console, but yes in terms of assembly, it’s well made. The seats, upholstered in natural leather in the upper trim level, are soft enough to ensure good comfort, good support and good stability to withstand time.
Generous wheelbase, but a rather small trunk
In the rear seat, passengers will also be completely comfortable, not only because of the extra-long wheelbase of 2.90 metres, but also thanks to the hollow floor under their feet to allow them to slide under the front seat. On the other hand, they will have to travel lightly, because the trunk does not exceed 376 liters. It’s not much for a car this size, and it’s 140 liters less than the smaller Audi Q4 e Tron. They will console themselves with a small box under the front hood, a franky whose dimensions are not yet known.
Moreover, this VF8 engine is, in part, on its end. On the other hand, it is absolutely so in its mechanical part and in its equipment. The level of driving assistance, with active regulation, lane keeping assist (and centering assistance) deserves the best. The two sides of the motor are two distinct forces. The first, in the Eco version, delivers 358 hp, and the second (VF8 Plus) has 408 hp.
These two engines drive all four wheels simultaneously and are available, if desired, with two batteries manufactured by Vinfast itself at the gigafactory located inside the enclosure of the Haiphong assembly plant. The smallest one displays a power of 82.2 kWh when the second offers 87.7 kWh. They recharge by 11 kW three-phase AC charging, or DC fast charging in 31 minutes to reach 70% for the most powerful battery.
Obviously, there are still a few unknowns, like the weight of the machine, that we suspect isn’t overly lightweight. Equally unknown is the true autonomy of the VF 8 engine. On paper, it will be 447 km with the most powerful engine and battery, and 420 km with a mass of 358 hp and the “small” battery.
Obviously, it was impossible to run out of fuel in the imposed short test cycle. But the 2 km impromptu circuit made it possible to check the good correctness of the running gear of the VF8 engine, with a good compromise between comfort and handling, even if somewhat flexibly modified suspension, is a dedication to America, the country where Vinfast will be located at the same time as It is the case in Europe. The acceleration is blunt without being overwhelming, even with the 408 hp version, indicating the very high weight we suspect it will exceed 2 tons. Nevertheless, the machine remains dynamic enough to hope for the stated times: from 0 to 100 km / h in 5.5 seconds and a top speed of 200 km / h.
10 years warranty
Distinguished engines and equipment that are no less than the current prices. Except that they don’t go overboard with this type of model. The VF8 Eco starts at €43,050, and the Plus version starts at €58,700. Other formats are available, which include battery rental between 120 and 150 euros per month, including LOA. There is still an unknown about the reliability that sticks to a brand newbie. To counter any criticism in this area, Vinfast guarantees its cars for 10 years and a maximum of 200,000 km. What should reassure Western agents in the face of this unknown that will arrive next semester? Answer at the end of the year.