As flagship VF 8 models continue to make their way over to North America, Electrek was invited to VinFast’s first media drive event and I was one of the first to experience the limited run City Edition SUV. While there is certainly room for improvement, VinFast is off to a promising start with the VF 8 – below are my thoughts.
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Background and first impressions of the VinFast VF 8
Since we first started covering VinFast back in 2021, the VF 8 has been a flagship model on our radar. It originally debuted in the US at the LA Auto show as the VF e35, but was rebranded a year later to the model name we recognize today.
We’ve had plenty of other VinFast news to cover in the two year plus span since the VF 8’s debut, including plans for US manufacturing and an IPO that appears closer than ever. This past fall, VinFast successfully delivered its first batch of VF 8 SUVs to the US, although customer deliveries were initially delayed due to some software issues (more on that later).
To date, VinFast has delivered the City Edition of its VF 8 SUV to customers in California and Vancouver, while we await deliveries of Standard version whose cargo boat just reached the Benicia Port, near San Francisco.
Earlier this week, I was one of the fortunate media personnel to be invited to VinFast’s first US drive event and experience the City Edition of the VF 8. Here’s what the SUV is packin’.
VinFast VF 8 specs and pricing
Let’s start with pertinent details so you’re well versed in VinFast’s first mid-size SUV inside and out before you hear my impressions. As I previously mentioned, the EV currently exists in two iterations – City Edition and Standard. Of those editions, the VF 8 comes in two available trims – Eco and Plus.
Since the Standard versions aren’t yet available in the US, I was given a VF 8 City Edition Plus for the day to cruise around Southern California. Here are some important specs pertaining to the configuration I drove:
- Motors: Dual motor (150 kW)
- Max Power: 300 kW
- Max Torque: 620 Nm
- Max Speed: 124.3 mph
- Acceleration (0-62mph): 5.5 seconds
- Battery capacity (usable): 82 kWh
- EPA range: 191 miles
- Charging time: 10-70% in under 24 minutes
- Charging rate (onboard): 6.6-11 kW
- Peak DCFC rate: up to 160 kW
- ADAS: Level 2 (Highway assist, Lane keep assist, etc.)
As you can see, the specs here are decent, but nothing to necessarily drool over. That being said, this is the City Edition, of which VinFast only produced 999. The incoming Standard VF 8 is touting better specs for sure.
While the City Editions are powered by Samsung battery cells, the Standard version features chemistry (cobalt manganese) from CATL, whose cells deliver better energy density in a slightly larger pack (88.7 kWh vs. 82 kWh). We actually just got the official EPA ranges while we were at the event, which we’ve included below.
Here’s how the four different VF 8 will break down side-by-side:
|Trim Level||Powertrain||Power||EPA Range||Base Price (MSRP)|
|VF 8 Eco (City Edition)||AWD Dual Motor||348 hp
|VF 8 Eco (Standard)||AWD Dual Motor||348 hp
|VF 8 Plus (City Edition)||AWD Dual Motor||402 hp
|VF 8 Plus (Standard)||AWD Dual Motor||402 hp
A little pricey compared to similar models in the market, but competitive nonetheless. A huge perk that US consumers will love in my opinion, is the warranty VinFast is delivering with the VF 8. The EV itself comes with a 10-year, 125,000 mile warranty. Better yet, the vehicle’s battery gets a 10-year, unlimited mileage warranty, and those guarantees follow the EV, meaning a second or third owner still qualifies in that ten year period.
Enough about the numbers though, let’s hop inside and explore what this EV has to offer.
Driving impressions inside and out
Notice anything unique about the dashboard? That’s right, no instrument cluster. This was a first for me and after nearly two decades of driving, I found my eyes subconsciously diverted to the speedometer that wasn’t there.
Instead, the vehicle’s speed and other pertinent details are available to view on the left side of the center tablet’s screen. This took some getting used to for sure. The saving grace was the VF 8’s head-up display (HUD) which was fantastic in my opinion. I didn’t even notice it at first due to my polarized sunglasses, but suddenly saw it and was so elated, since there was no cluster behind the steering.
I was able to adjust its position and brightness and clearly see it during the sunny weather around San Diego (I tried to get a picture of it for you seen above). Overall, I found the cockpit roomy and its design intuitive. Every toggle or button I expected would do a certain function did so, so I immediately felt at home in the EV.
The design of the UX was also easy to navigate, although it was a bit of a pain to have to keep selecting the main menu then the Apple CarPlay icon to get back to my navigation. That said, bluetooth connection through wireless CarPlay was seamless, even after turning the EV on and off.
I think VinFast has a good backbone of software in the VF 8, but there are some very blatant bugs in the system. If you look closely at some of my pictures of the display above, you’ll notice several icons lit up that shouldn’t be there.
For instance, the whole time I was driving, the EV said I was in park. Turn signal icons remained illuminated even though the blinker wasn’t activated and at one point, I was told my seatbelt wasn’t on when it clearly was. An OTA software patch should fix these minor issues fairly quickly I’d imagine, but that should definitely be done before these vehicles reach more drivers.
As for the overall drive of the VinFast VF 8, I was pleasantly surprised at how sporty it was, even in Normal mode. On paper, its acceleration times are mediocre, but it felt a lot speedier on the road. I truly enjoyed Sport mode – I found it very “loose” for a mid-size SUV and had a lot of fun whipping around curves up to Lake Hodges near Escondido.
Regenerative braking was decent in my opinion, but you all know I like it stiff. The VF 8 is definitely not a one pedal driving EV, so you will need to use the brake often. My biggest qualm with this vehicle was the lack of brake lock when stopped.
I was shocked the first time I stopped at a light on a hill and came to a complete stop, when I took my foot off the brake I immediately rolled backward like I was driving a manual transmission. At this point with EVs, I’m used to coming to a complete stop and being able to remove my foot from either pedal. That roll back in the VF 8 is something I believe VinFast should amend immediately.
Here are some other quick thoughts:
- I loved the panoramic glass roof and its ability to open. It was perfect while parked next to the ocean.
- The VF 8 beeped at me way too much. Whether it was lane keep assist, speed limit warnings, or something else, VinFast’s EV was constantly yelling at me. Not a fan of that.
- Despite the low range on the City Edition VF 8 Plus, I found its energy usage quite efficient and had no worries about range in my 3+ hours trip around town.
I have personally been on the VinFast beat since October of 2021, when the automaker announced it was coming to the US. Since then, I’ve been in touch with its team, stayed in the news loop, and even attempted to visit Vietnam three times without luck due to my schedule.
Needless to say, I’ve been looking forward to the opportunity to speak with executives at VinFast (many of which are female by the way, which we love to see) and experience the VF 8 first hand. Following my time inside and out of the vehicle, I think the company is off to a good start. The core design is there – but there is room for improvement in many elements of EV design.
The more powerful battery pack should go a long way with US consumers, because any EV with an EPA under 200 miles probably won’t get a second look. Is that enough range for the average driver? Probably, but the consumer market isn’t privy enough to range needs and driving habits yet, unfortunately.
Price might be an issue – especially since VinFast is a virtually unknown brand in the country. I had multiple people in San Diego ask me about the EV while I was taking pictures, but I was still getting a lot of confusion about what it actually was and was asked what level of gas mileage it gets even though I clearly stated it was electric. We’ve got a long way to go people.
The warranty program is a slam dunk in my opinion, especially the coverage of the battery and the fact that its transferrable to new owners. Well done.
While we were at the event, VinFast has a VF 9 on display – its next EV coming to the US. I think this one is going to do well with US consumers – VinFast’s most important market according to North American CEO Van Anh Nguyen.
Just looking at it, I noticed several improvements compared to the VF 8, including flush door handles, power shades on the windows, and a pretty significant wheelbase. It’s a low ride too – perfect for families, pets, and those with disabilities.
With three more models (VF 9, VF 6 and VF 7) expected to reach the US market before year’s end, VinFast continues to earn the second half of its name. I just worry that it is moving so quickly that it will have difficulty going back and making design and performance improvements necessary to truly stand out in a growing EV market. The VF 8 is a great start, but VinFast will need to deliver more at a better price to truly gather the piece of the US market its targeting.
Next, I’m very much looking forward to getting my hands on a Standard VF 8 and am just as excited about the incoming VF 9. I’ll be sure to report back when those drive inevitably happen.