2023 Vinfast VF 8 Plus: Let The Initiation Begin

Strong points
  • Performances plus que suffisantes
  • Tenue de route adéquate pour le format
  • Look singulier
Weak points
  • Confort de roulement perfectible
  • Calibrage à revoir en mode Sport
  • Fiabilité inconnue
Full report

Vietnamese manufacturer VinFast has the first VF 8 midsize electric SUV examples ready to be handed over to new North American owners. On paper, the VF 8 looks like a unique, technically enticing alternative to what’s out there. But many questions remain about reliability, service, and more.

Last year, The Car Guide journalist Julien Amado was able to drive a pre-production model over a few kilometres around the factory where it is assembled in Vietnam, and learn more about the origins of this brand by the same token.

This year, The Car Guide flew to California to drive the Plus variant of the VF 8 SUV.

Photo: Louis-Philippe Dubé

No Battery Leasing program in Canada

First, let's answer a question that has been on everyone's lips since the name VinFast was first heard of in Canada. In an attempt to revolutionize the EV purchase process by making it "more affordable" VinFast had designed a leasing program for the most critical component of the vehicle, the battery. Buyers opting for a battery lease would benefit from a reduced purchase price. This would give the manufacturer a competitive advantage over its rivals and strategically position it below the thresholds required for government subsidies.

However, VinFast has confirmed that this program was not available in Canada at this time, citing uncertainties regarding the choice of financial partners, among other uncertainties. So if you buy a VF 8, you buy the battery that comes with it. For the moment at least!

Two Slightly Different, Towing Capable Personalities

The VinFast VF 8 is offered in two variants in Canada, the Plus model and the Eco model. The Plus model is equipped with a dual-motor configuration that develops 402 horsepower and 457 lb-ft of torque. The official EPA range is 391 kilometres on this model. The Eco model is similarly equipped, but slightly compromises performance, with 349 horsepower and 369 lb of torque. However, its range increases to 425 kilometres.

Photo: Louis-Philippe Dubé

A "City" variant of the VF 8 is also available in the U.S. at the moment, which has very limited range figure. This variant is not available in Canada.

On the road, the VF 8 Plus impresses with its quick acceleration and solid handling for its size. A drive mode selector allows drivers to choose between Eco, Normal and Sport. In an effort to get the most out of our VF 8, we drove a portion of our route in Sport mode, where throttle response is quick but unpleasantly nervous, providing a choppy ride for both driver and passengers. A recalibration would be in order in this regard.

Efficiency isn’t the VF 8’s forte, with a rating of 26 kWh/100 km on the EPA's government website. We got an average of 25 kWh/100 km, which is still high.

On the other hand, the VF 8 will let you tow, with a capacity of 1,650 pounds (750 kg) that can increase to nearly 4,000 pounds (1,800 kg) with a trailer equipped with a braking system.

Photo: Louis-Philippe Dubé

The Screen is the Centre of Attention

Inside, the VF 8 delivers comfort and versatility. The Tesla-style screen in the centre of the dashboard is easy to use, with clear, well-appointed menus. There are very few manual controls; the VF 8 doesn't even have a stop/start button. The key fob activates the accessories with the lock/unlock commands, while the brake pedal must then be pressed to start the drivetrain.

Rear cargo space is somewhat limited in normal configuration, at 376 litres. But there are 78 additional litres in the frunk. With the rear seats folded down, the VF 8 delivers 1,373 litres of volume. 

Charging and Warranty

In terms of charging, the VF 8 can, according to the manufacturer, go from 10% to 70% charge level in 24 minutes when connected to a level 3 DC charger thanks to a maximum charging capacity of 160 kW. For context, a Hyundai Ioniq 5 can peak at 225 kW, while a Toyota bZ4X is limited to 100 kW.

Photo: Louis-Philippe Dubé

An aggressive warranty strategy always helps ease concerns. VinFast offers a 10-year/200,000-mile comprehensive warranty and a 10-year/unlimited mileage battery warranty on its products, which is quite reassuring.

VinFast also offers a charging plan included in the vehicle purchase price. New owners can choose between 3 years of fast charging on the ChargeHub network or a home charger.

The Final Word

Unanswered questions remain about the VF 8 and VinFast in general. We’re still wondering how the vehicle will perform in our harsh winter climate, for example. And we’re also eager to see how reliability will pan out on the medium- and long-term. In addition, service centres will eventually be needed to ensure the maintenance of the VF 8s that will arrive in Canada in the coming months...

Photo: Louis-Philippe Dubé

In fact, 781 units are on their way to us and will be delivered by the end of the year. Things should be simpler in 2025, when the Raleigh, North Carolina, VinFast plant will start operating to supply the North American market.

But for now, while the VF 8 has some wrinkles that could be ironed out, it makes a good impression in terms of driving and technical features and seems ready for its North American initiation. And the next year will be critical for the brand in terms of consumer acceptance. The VF 8 has a starting price of $57,500, but the manufacturer pointed out that this price could be revised in the coming months.

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