2023 VinFast VF8: First Drive Review

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceWhat Is It?
The importance of the 2023 VinFast VF8 should not be underestimated. This all-new model is VinFast’s first entry into the American market. Not only is it the first vehicle from VinFast, the VF8 is the first production model produced in Vietnam for U.S. roads. A 5-passenger electric crossover, the VinFast VF8 offers impressive performance and some great features. However, issues will need to be addressed for this model to succeed in a very competitive crossover EV market.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceWhat We Drove
VinFast invited us to San Diego, California, to experience the 2023 VinFast VF8 firsthand. The Vietnamese car company provided a 2023 VF8 City Edition Plus, painted in an eye-catching Deep Ocean Metallic. The test vehicle had no factory options, so the MSRP lists at $57,200; however, the City Edition is only available for lease.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceModel Lineup
VinFast’s first model in America, the VF8 City Edition is produced in Eco or Plus trim levels. Only 999 copies of this first model will be available, and it will be followed shortly by the VF8 Standard, also available as Eco or Plus. The features of the City Edition and Standard are the same, as is pricing. The primary difference is the type of battery, which provides a longer range on the Standard. The base price of the Eco is $49,000, with the Plus starting at $56,000 (not including a $1,200 destination charge). Currently VinFast only offers the VF8 in California; however, the company plans to eventually expand to additional states.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceUnique Look
Designed by the legendary Italian design studio Pininfarina, the VF8 stands out from other crossovers with integrated LED headlights and running lights, as well as a light bar that converges at the middle of the grille to form a V shape. A large V logo is located in the center of the grille.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceStylish Silhouette
The VF8 gets classic crossover lines thanks to a roofline that flows smoothly from the windshield base to the rear spoiler. The 20-inch wheels on the Plus fit well with the overall design, although, the VF8’s design makes it look as if it’s squatting low at the rear wheels due to a heavy load.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRear View
The same V-shaped light treatment can be found at the rear, giving the crossover a wide look. Since most people won’t know this vehicle, VINFAST is spelled out in a large font across the rear hatch.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceOne Screen
Inside, the VF8 is an unusual setup that features a large 15.6-inch touchscreen display at the center of the dashboard — the only visible display in the cabin. There are no gauges or any information screens in front of the driver. At least a head-up display presents speed, navigation directions and other essential information, so the driver doesn’t have to keep glancing at the screen for typical driving operations. The only physical knob is the volume control in the center console.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceInfotainment
The large infotainment display in the 20223 VinFast VF8 is divided into sections, with the left portion dedicated to vehicle operational settings such as drive modes. Even mirror and steering wheel adjustments are made through the display. When either is selected, the driver uses steering wheel controls to make the adjustments. Even the panoramic sunroof opens via the screen. Battery state and range are at the top left, while climate controls remain static at the bottom of the screen.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceAndroid Auto, Apple CarPlay
Both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard equipment in the 2023 VinFast VF8 and connect wirelessly. Android Auto connects quickly and easily, filling the right section of the screen while in operation. The space provides good real estate while making it easy to access the VinFast native features. Unfortunately the screen’s reaction time is slow; during several interactions we had to make a selection multiple times to get the system to activate.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePet Mode
The infotainment system has multiple features, and our favorite is an integrated Pet Mode. This innovative feature turns on the air-conditioning and displays a message on the screen that reads, “Please don’t worry! The climate is still on to make sure my pet is comfortable. I’ll be back shortly.”

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceAttractive Interior
With only one display and practically no physical controls, the 2023 VinFast VF8 has a very clean, high-tech look within the cabin. Most materials have a premium feel with soft touch points on the doors, dash and center console cover. The test vehicle’s seats were trimmed in synthetic leather that could easily be mistaken for the genuine article. The front seats feel fairly stiff and the seatback feels unforgiving, but ultimately support is decent and we remained comfortable even after spending a long day behind the wheel.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRear Seats
Occupants in the rear seat will appreciate plenty of legroom and headroom in the VinFast VF8, and even though the seats are flat with no bolstering they are reasonably comfortable. The seating area has three USB ports at the rear of the front center console, and on the Plus version the outboard rear seats are heated. And while most EVs have a flat floor due to the absence of a driveline connecting a front engine to a rear axle, for some reason the VF8 still has a hump in the center of the floor, which limits legroom for the middle-seat occupant.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceCargo Space
The 2023 VinFast VF8 features ample cargo space that easily handles several suitcases, bags of groceries, or other cargo. If larger items need hauling, the rear seats fold flat in a 60/40 split.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceFrunk
As an additional space for storing smaller items securely, the VF8 has a small frunk (front trunk) under the hood.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceEV Power
All VF8s get a dual-motor electric drive system, although horsepower ratings and range differ between the Eco and Plus variants. The City Edition Eco has 349 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, while the Plus upgrades to 402 horsepower and 457 lb-ft of torque. VinFast estimates the VF8 will go from zero to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 6.5 and 5.5 seconds, respectively. The VF8 can tow just under 4,000 pounds.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRange and Ratings
Both variants get an 82 kWh battery pack, and according to the U.S. EPA the Eco has an estimated range of 207 miles, and the Plus can go 191 miles between charges. The upcoming VF8 Standard gets a slightly more powerful battery and boasts an estimated range of 264 and 243 miles, respectively. Based on our experience, these higher numbers would likely apply to the VF8 City Edition we drove. At the start of our drive, the test vehicle displayed a 96 percent charge with a range of 255 miles. After a 50-mile drive, the display showed 189 miles remaining with a 70 percent charge. Based on these figures, it seems the EPA estimates are rather conservative.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceNo Start Button
Like other EVs we’ve driven, there is no start button in the VF8. Get in, press the brake pedal, and the vehicle is ready to go. After arriving at a destination, the driver puts the car in Park, gets out and locks the door —the vehicle shuts down automatically.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceAdvanced Safety
VinFast equips the VF8 with the latest advanced driver-assist features, including automatic emergency braking, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control. The VF8 also has a 360-degree surround-view monitoring system that automatically comes on when the car stops to make a turn, although the video resolution is quite poor.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceOn the Road
The VF8 has many of the qualities one might expect driving an EV, but there are some issues. With plenty of power on tap, this Vietnamese crossover is quick off the line and the cabin remains quiet. However, we found it challenging to drive the VF8 smoothly. The throttle is overly sensitive, and tip-in feels more like an on/off switch with no modulation possible.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceUncomfortable Ride
We attempted to maintain a steady 40 mph in the VF8 while driving the backroads outside of Encinitas, California. This simple task turned out to be difficult — barely any pressure on the accelerator would result in quick acceleration, and letting off immediately slowed the vehicle rapidly, resulting in an uncomfortable ride that noticeably rocks occupants back and forth in their seats.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceSoft Suspension
During our test drive, the motion we experienced from the acceleration/deceleration was partly due to a rather soft suspension system. In most situations the VinFast smooths bumps to provide a comfortable ride, but when surfaces become rough or undulating the ride becomes bouncy, with the VF8 taking a few seconds to settle. This softer suspension also affects handling on winding roads. The EV’s road grip is good with decent steering feedback, but we noticed a lot of body roll during our drive, which didn’t lend much confidence to the handling.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceCreep Mode
In many EVs it’s possible to set up one-pedal driving by setting the regenerative braking to maximum turning off “creep mode.” When creep mode is on, the vehicle typically starts moving forward when the driver releases the brakes. This isn’t the case with the VF8. Maximum regen is not enough to bring the car to a halt. However, once the vehicle stops and the driver takes a foot off the brake, the vehicle begins to roll back as if in Neutral. Fortunately, when this occurred, we were able to stop before rolling into the car behind us, to the relief of other occupants.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRight for You?
The 2023 VinFast VF8 stands out from the crowd with attractive styling, and the interior is comfortable and spacious. Some drivers might take extra time to adapt to the VinFast VF8’s center-screen layout, but the design is intuitive. The VF8 also shines with competitive power and range; however, the difficulty in driving the car smoothly and the overly soft suspension makes the ride uncomfortable, and the fact that we almost rolled into another vehicle is unacceptable. The VF8 has great potential, but some issues are difficult to overlook. Until these issues get rectified, it’s difficult to recommend the purchase of a $50,000 vehicle over proven models such as the Nissan Ariya, Tesla Model Y, Volkswagen ID.4 or Volvo XC40 Recharge.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRating: 7.0
Pros: Decent performance; roomy rear seat; respectable driving range.
Cons: Touchy throttle; low-res cameras; can roll backward in Drive.
Bottom Line: VinFast’s first offering has promise, but it still needs fine-tuning to be ready for prime time.

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