2023 VinFast VF 8 First Drive Review
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First Drive: 2023 VinFast VF 8 EV SUV Review

The VF 8 is VinFast’s first attempt at taking on the North American car market. Canada Drives drove a pre production model to see if it has what it takes to take on the industry’s best.

Key Features:

  • Striking styling
  • Roomy interior
  • Rock-solid construction

Direct Competitors:

If you’ve never heard of VinFast, we don’t blame you. Just over a year ago, we didn’t even know this Vietnamese carmaker even existed. Yet, VinFast claims it wants to sell electric cars on our market by this fall (though 2023 is more realistic in Canada).

Furthermore, it just announced it would invest $6.5-billion US in a state-of-the art assembly plant in Northern Carolina by 2024, creating more than 7,000 jobs in the area. And get this: Pininfarina, the famous design studio normally associated with Ferrari and Alfa Romeo, oversees Vinfast’s designs.

2023 VinFast VF 8 | Photo: Amee Reehal 

Consider us intrigued. Curious to know more, we hopped on a plane and flew to Vietnam to discover the company and sample a pre production VF 8 to see what it’s worth.

How much will the VF 8 EV SUV cost in Canada?

The VF 8 will be VinFast’s first serious attempt at selling vehicles this side of the Pacific. It’s a fully electric crossover that sits somewhere between a compact and midsize, a vehicle that’s poised to take on vehicles like the Tesla Model Y, Volkswagen ID.4, Ford Mustang Mach-E or the Hyundai IONIQ 5 and Kia EV6 South-Korean duo.

Part of Vingroup, a large Vietnamese conglomerate that builds everything in Vietnam, from scooters, to buses and even hotels, VinFast, which opened shop in 2017, wants to break ground in the EV market by offering a battery leasing service. 

2023 VinFast VF 8 | Photo: Amee Reehal 

Starts at $51,250, plus monthly fees for an EV battery subscription plan

Details about this service are still scarce for our market, but the goal is to sell a car without a battery, then offer the consumer a battery subscription plan. The benefit? VinFast says that the moment that battery reaches 70% degradation, it’ll give you a brand-new battery. 

And when a more powerful battery is available for your car, you can up your membership and upgrade your car. VinFast says that after three years of leasing, the consumer can buy back the battery.

It's a bold and intriguing business model, one that still has us scratching the backs of our heads. VinFast still hasn’t released Canadian pricing for this service, but it says we should expect to pay anywhere between $30 and $50 a month for a battery lease.

As for the VF 8 itself, it kicks off at $51,250 before any eligible provincial EV rebates. VinFast hasn’t yet released more pricing details.

2023 VinFast VF 8 interior: a closer look

2023 VinFast VF 8 | Photo: Amee Reehal 

Our pre production model wasn’t final, meaning some interior components were missing and the infotainment system had a few glitches. But we were still able to get a glimpse of what to expect. 

Premium interior with ample cabin space

The VF 8’s cabin is massive, on par with some midsize SUVs. Rear leg and head room is ample, while overall build quality is above average with materials that are impressive for a carmaker that didn’t even exist a decade ago. 

2023 VinFast VF 8 | Photo: Amee Reehal 

VinFast tries to mimic Tesla by incorporating most of the car’s controls in a massive central command screen. That system is Android-based but utilizes VinFast’s own interface with neat menus and colorful graphics.

Unfortunately, our unit had software issues. So, while we did appreciate the system’s speed of execution and overall appearance, it’s still way too early to properly evaluate it.

Cargo space in the VF 8 appears to be class-leading, but again, we have no official numbers to back anything up. It does offer a frunk, which should allow the VF 8 to beat the Hyundai/Kia twins in the cargo wars.

2023 VinFast VF 8 | Photo: Amee Reehal 

VF 8 power, range, and driving impressions

When it’ll hit our market this fall, the VF 8 will be powered by an 82 kWh usable (90 kWh raw) battery which powers two electric motors. The base Eco model produces 348 combined horsepower and 368 combined lb-ft of torque.

That’ll allow it to hit 0-96 km/h in six seconds flat. Range is rated at 510 km as per WLTP protocols. We’re still waiting for official EPA figures.

Range-topping VF 8 Plus will make over 400 horsepower

2023 VinFast VF 8 | Photo: Amee Reehal 

The upgraded Plus model cranks things up to 402 horsepower and 457 lb-ft of torque, hits 0 to 96 km/h in 5.3 seconds and pulls 460 km of range, again as per WLTP protocols.

Our run with the VF 8 was brief and took place around the factory that builds it, in Haiphong, Vietnam. We did appreciate its smooth, yet swift acceleration. The VF 8 isn’t fast, but it’s not slow either. 

Expect improved regenerative braking over a series of updates

Straight line performance is adequate. The large, squared-off hood adds a sense of mass, making the vehicle appear larger than it is. Brakes are fantastic, with a firm bite to them, although we were disappointed by the regenerative braking’s performance. VinFast says it will improve it through over the air updates.

2023 VinFast VF 8 | Photo: Amee Reehal 

In the corners, the VF 8 feels rock solid, buttoned down and refined, almost like a German vehicle. We were impressed by the overall quality of this pre production model.

Verdict: is VinFast's mid-size electric SUV worth buying?

It’s still way too early to give our recommendation on the VinFast VF 8. We’ll have a chance to drive a production-ready vehicle closer to its release date. But as a first attempt in the international scene, VinFast seems ready to take on the industry’s best. The foundation is solid.

2023 VinFast VF 8 | Photo: Amee Reehal 

The VF 8 appears to have been packaged to give Tesla a hard time, but we’re not convinced it will manage to dislodge the Model Y. But we wouldn’t be surprised if the VF 8 gives the Volkswagen ID.4 and the new Nissan Ariya we reviewed here a run for their money.

Ready to buy a used EV SUV?

View all our used electric SUVs and crossovers here. Every vehicle has completed a 150 Point Inspection, comes with a no-charge 30 Day / 1,500 km warranty, and is covered by our 7-Day money back return policy.

Or, if you're not 100% ready to go all-electric, check out these Best Plug-in Hybrid SUVs in Canada: Our 7 Top Picks.

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