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2023 VinFast VF 8 First Drive: Cinderella Arrives at the Ball

2023 VinFast VF 8 | Photo: B.Charette
  • EPA Category: Midsize SUV
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    Benoit Charette
    Will this electric SUV make it in a market dominated by Tesla and other established manufacturers? Stay tuned
    Orange 2023 VinFast VF 8
    Orange 2023 VinFast VF 8 | Photo: B.Charette

    •    Auto123 gets in a first drive of the 2023 VinFast VF 8.

    •    Will this electric SUV find its place in a market dominated by Tesla and other more established manufacturers? Time will tell.

    Encinitas, CA - We all know the story of Cinderella meeting her Prince Charming at the ball. VinFast is just arriving in North America, but like Cinderella, the Vietnamese EV maker is not a big player in the automotive world. Yet. But led by Vingroup boss Pham Nhat Vuong, the company’s ambitions are grand. It wants to make a place for itself in North America among the Teslas and established automakers cranking out new EVs by the month. 

    Remains to be seen what happens when the clock strikes midnight. Will the coach turn back into a pumpkin? Will the VinFast be accepted into the huge, challenging North American market, or will it slink back whence it came? 

    The all-new 2023 VinFast VF 8
    The all-new 2023 VinFast VF 8 | Photo: B.Charette

    A handsome coach it is
    The fairy godmother of VinFast is Pininfarina, a famous Italian coachbuilder that took charge of the design of the VF 8. In terms of size, know that the SUV is very close to a Ford Mustang Mach-e. The VF 8 is 4.75 meters long by 1.93 meters wide and 1.67 meters high.  

    The style is contemporary. There are a few touches that evoke other models, for example the rear part that calls out to the Porsche Macan, or the headlights likely inspired by the Mustang. In any event, the proportions are right and the general look of the vehicle is pleasing to the eye. VinFast was able to put its personal touch with its distinctive V in the grille.

    Strong points

    • Pininfarina knows how to make beautiful vehicles
    • Well designed back end

    Weak points

    • Sloping roof that reduces interior space
    Interior of 2023 VinFast VF 8
    Interior of 2023 VinFast VF 8 | Photo: B.Charette

    A Tesla-like dashboard
    Tesla is a source of inspiration for many new (and not so new) players in the industry. Like its American competitor, VinFast has placed a 15.6-inch touchscreen in the middle of the dashboard that looks and functions like an iPad. 

    With the exception of a radio volume knob to the right of the gear-shifter in the centre console and a few commands on the steering wheel, all functions are accessed via the menus on this tablet. And when we say all we’re not kidding: the adjustment of the exterior mirrors, the steering wheel, the sunroof, the air conditioning and all the driving aids are all done on the screen. 

    There are also a multitude of applications, including Alexa, which serves as your interpreter in the vehicle. There’s a lot to unpack: a 20-minute training course was necessary before we got our bearings.

    Steering wheel of 2023 VinFast VF 8
    Steering wheel of 2023 VinFast VF 8 | Photo: B.Charette

    Lots of aids and lots of intrusion
    The list of driving aids is extensive. From automatic high beams to traffic sign recognition, automated emergency braking, standard blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control, there's not much missing. That’s good.

    The bad? the intrusive nature of all these controls, which get on your nerves very quickly with constant audible warnings. It can drive you a bit batty, in fact, and fortunately, after a little research in the sub-menus, we were able to deactivate all these functions. 

    You also have parking assistance features and with the VinFast app, the car comes to you once you command it using your smartphone.

    Logo of 2023 VinFast VF 8
    Logo of 2023 VinFast VF 8 | Photo: B.Charette

    Vestige of the past
    Our first surprise on getting in was the large centre tunnel that runs through the cabin. Typically, electric models have a flat floor, well because they can. But the fact is, the VF 8 was in its first life a model with an internal combustion engine. This tunnel was necessary for the drive shaft to the rear wheels. To reduce costs in the development of the new model, the tunnel remained in place. A problem that should be corrected in the near-future. 

    So you have two real seats in the back and a third backup seat, as well as a large centre console that reduces knee room a bit in the front. VinFast has placed the gear shifter in this space with storage and even USB-C outlets, and an outlet to charge a PC. 

    Aside from this tunnel, occupants enjoy a nice living space. There's a reclining backrest in the back, generous legroom and a panoramic sunroof to bring the light in.  

    The interior materials are a mix of vegan leather and plastic. The flat-bottomed steering wheel is pleasant to the grip. The seats are firm, more so than those of the German manufacturers, for comparison. The driving position is high, even when set in the lowest position. 


    Strong points

    • Nice legroom
    • Clean styling 
    • Very quiet interior

    Weak points

    • Very firm seats
    • Central tunnel that steals space
    • Plastic is a bit low-end
    Red 2023 VinFast VF 8
    Red 2023 VinFast VF 8 | Photo: B.Charette

    The drive
    On the road, the suspension is firm, but remains composed and absorbs holes and bumps well. On the other hand, the steering feedback is average at best. 

    You have the choice of Normal or Sport drive mode. The first is a bit dull, the second too nervous. We preferred the quieter drive Normal gave us, even if it lacked dynamism. VinFast says special soundproofing glass is used to help make the interior a quiet place. An interesting touch that adds a layer of luxury to the driving experience and the feeling of well-being in the vehicle. 

    The power offered by the VF 8 is sufficient, but not overwhelming. The thrust is honest, but not breathtaking like you get from a Tesla Y.

    Our average fuel consumption for our two-hour drive was 32.1 kWh/100 km. That's a pretty high figure, but we'll have to validate it over a week-long test drive.

    Strong points

    • Good handling
    • Solid chassis
    • Its AWD will be appreciated in winter
    • Well-calibrated suspension

    Weak points

    • Steering is a bit stiff
    • Looking for all the power
    • Intrusive driving aids
    Rear of 2023 VinFast VF 8
    Rear of 2023 VinFast VF 8 | Photo: B.Charette

    Two models, Eco and Plus
    Each VF 8 uses an all-wheel drive electric powertrain with two electric motors. The Eco model offers 349 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, while the Plus model delivers 402 hp and 457 lb-ft of torque. Both models benefit from the same on-board charger (11 kW). 

    On a fast outlet, the SUV can recover 10 to 70 percent charge in about 25 minutes assuming you are able to charge to 160 kWh. VinFast has also built in a heat pump as standard to help conserve more charge in winter. 

    VinFast estimates a range of 420 km for the Eco variant, and 400 for the Plus model.

    Design of 2023 VinFast VF 8
    Design of 2023 VinFast VF 8 | Photo: B.Charette

    Interesting advantages to buy
    VinFast is aware that it has a hill to climb against established manufacturers. It has therefore given itself the means to make its purchase attractive. You have a 10-year/200,000-km warranty. The battery is guaranteed for 10 years with unlimited mileage. 

    VinFast also offers strong support in terms of charging. With the purchase of a VF 8, VinFast provides you with a free charger with free installation at home. If you don't want a charger (or already have one), VinFast gives you three years of free charging on the Charge Up network. 

    You also get 10 years of unlimited roadside assistance 365 days a year. Like the newest automotive startups, VinFast will also do OTA (Over the Air) updates for new features in the vehicle. Plus you have an Alexa voice command assistant that works by simply saying Hey VinFast, followed by your requests.

    2023 VinFast VF 8, logo on trunk
    2023 VinFast VF 8, logo on trunk | Photo: B.Charette

    How much does all this cost?
    We don't have all the pricing details yet. However, we do know that the base Eco version starts at $57,500. This price is eligible for two government grants (totaling $12,000 in Quebec; amounts will vary by province). That puts the VF 8 in the running in this segment. 

    VinFast has put aside (for the moment at least) the idea of leasing the battery on a monthly basis. The project is on ice, but not completely abandoned. 

    The final word
    It remains to be seen whether Cinderella will find her Prince Charming at the end of the story or will be left with a pumpkin in her hands. The shift to electrification is bleeding automakers dry. VinFast is on solid ground, but sales must keep up with investments and the time frame for success is very short. Let's talk about this in five years.

    Front of 2023 VinFast VF 8
    Front of 2023 VinFast VF 8 | Photo: B.Charette

    Here are a few of your questions about the 2023 VinFast VF 8:

    What is the price of the VinFast VF 8 in Canada?
    The base price in Canada is $57,500.

    What kind of warranty does VinFast offer?
    Vinfast offers a unique 10 year / 200,000 km warranty, as well as a 10 year / 200,000 km battery warranty. Also a 10 year unlimited mileage roadside assistance. Please note, future features will be via OTA (Over the Air) upgrade.

    The competition

    Ford Mustang Mach-E
    Hyundai Ioniq 5
    Kia EV6
    Nissan Ariya
    Subaru Solterra
    Tesla Model Y
    Toyota bZ4X
    Volkswagen ID.4
    Volvo XC40 Recharge


    Interior space
    Technology and safety
    Energy efficiency

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    Benoit Charette
    Benoit Charette
    Automotive expert
    • More than 30 years of experience as an automotive journalist
    • More than 65 test drives last year
    • Attended more than 200 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists