The 2023 Vinfast VF 8 has a long way to go, and it’s a short time to get there

“So, how fast can I really go?” I ask the WinFast handler sitting next to me in the passenger seat of the VF 8 prototype. Before my first chance I was told to keep the speed of the small test loop below 80km / h (or just about 50 miles) but as I was getting ready for my second race I saw a few more drivers zipping. High speed

Instead of a number, I was greeted with a jolt – so we stopped before he changed his mind.

The first race was very conservative to give me a definite impression, and I traveled 18 hours to get here, so it’s time to relax. This time around I got the speedometer up to 145 km / h (90 mph) and got a better idea of ​​the VF 8’s performance and braking – and some assurance that it was more than a showpiece.

Similarly, the company is moving fast. It is commendable that the company has fully driveable prototypes since launching the vehicle about six months ago. But the company’s aggressive timeline for launching these vehicles – incredibly, this year – means that despite these advances, much remains to be done to prepare them in the short term.

Vinfast VF8 prototype

Vinfast VF8 prototype

I traveled to Vietnam with a group of journalists, investors and clients to see the Vinfast facility and get our first seat-time on the VF8 prototype. Hi Fong, our long trip to Vietnam resulted in about five minutes behind the wheels of the VF 8 (my highest ratio so far between travel time and driving time). But we have many questions about this new EV automaker that need some answers.

Our short drive loop is in a course setup next to the Winfast production facility, and consists of only two long straight ones, booked by a wide U-turn at one end and a small chicken on the hard left at the other end. I took both runs on a red VF8 prototype that WinFast said was the most advanced of the three cars available on the day, which apparently came from different points in VF8’s development cycle. One of these models will encounter a braking problem and be removed from rotation at the end of the day.

Each prototype available for testing was a dual-motor all-wheel drive vehicle, and the model I tested was a plus trim equipped with a more powerful motor that produces 402-hp and 457 pound-feet of torque, compared to 348 hp and eco. 368 pound-feet in the model. It was equipped with a smaller, standard range 82-kwh (usable) battery.

Vinfast VF8 prototype

Vinfast VF8 prototype

Vinfast VF8 prototype

Vinfast VF8 prototype

Vinfast VF8 prototype

Vinfast VF8 prototype

Estimates a time of 0-62 miles per hour of about 5.5 seconds for Winfast Plus and thinks it is accurate. It doesn’t offer the super-snappy off-the-line acceleration you get on the Tesla Model Y, but it’s at least as fast as the dual-motor VW ID.4. Speed ​​builds up fast enough and the VF-8 delivers up to about 100 miles per hour with relative ease. Throttle tuning requires a lot of refinement, the tip-in doesn’t have enough responsiveness, and in my first run when I pushed the throttle down, the VF 8 didn’t move forward for a beat, but it did move forward with a jolt that shocked the same Winfast staff in the passenger seat. I will ask you to exceed the speed limit posted later I raised a hand to apologize (my Vietnamese is not great) and he smiled at me, I guess I wasn’t the first to do it with him that day.

Winfast engineers indicated that there would be more reproducible braking options underneath the car line, including a one-pedal driving mode, but they weren’t ready (although I found those modes on the menu when I played more with the screen. A static prototype). . The revival that was present in the prototype was very light and allowed for durable gliding like an ICE vehicle. Like the lack of throttle responsiveness, the brake pedal was not responsive enough at the top of its journey and it was difficult to slow down quickly and smoothly. With the region so light, it was impossible to get a sense of break-blending, something we’ll see again later.

The road we drove was well maintained so it didn’t give VF 8 a chance to see how it would handle sidewalk imperfections, but the SUV rode well on a good surface and the cabin was well insulated from wind and tire noise. The suspension was softly sprung, with a very noticeable body roll, especially when the chicken came out in a hard turn, as the tires began to protest very quickly. Adding some hardness to the front springs would be very welcome.

Like the suspension, the steering felt light, although it seemed to track well in the center. There was not much response to talk but the short time behind the wheel was not enough to get a good idea of ​​the dynamic tone of the vehicle in the steering / suspension.

Vinfast VF8 prototype

Vinfast VF8 prototype

Vinfast VF8 prototype

Vinfast VF8 prototype

Vinfast VF8 prototype

Vinfast VF8 prototype

Vinfast VF8 prototype

Vinfast VF8 prototype

I scoured around the interior of the tested prototype, as well as a static version that was available for WinFast photographs and to try out the infotainment system. Each had some general caveats that we would attach to the hand-made prototype with inconsistent panel gaps and materials, but the interior design seems to have been finalized.

VF8 opts for a very simple dash setup that VF9 will also use, with a 15.6-inch touchscreen acting as the main hub for everything. There’s no instrument panel, but there’s a standard head-up display so you don’t have to move your head to look at the center screen every time you know your speed. It’s a bit like the Tesla Model 3 setup, but has more controls on the steering wheel to help control the audio and safety features, such as adaptive cruise control (also standard).

In terms of size, the VF 8 is roughly the size of a Ford Mach-E but its rear seat looks wider. It has plenty of space for four adults inside, but the center passenger has to fight the floor hump for some reason. It will be difficult to fully measure the internal quality until we get something close to a production version and there will be more time to see how the seats last longer. The infotainment system felt at least a bit more complete, not all functionality may have been turned on but the screen was sleek and the screens were intuitive, if a little louder (see the Security Features menu above).

WinFast VF8 prototype

WinFast VF8 prototype

WinFast has announced the initial price of the VF 8 and VF 9, as well as how many battery subscriptions will be required to purchase each car. A VF 8 Plus with a smaller battery pack will start at $ 47,700 (excluding destination charges that have not yet been finalized), although the larger battery version will cost $ 48,000 so I see no reason to go for a standard battery at this time.

The company has doubled down on its VF 8 and VF 9 plans to start delivery by the end of the year. It still feels ambitious for the VF 8 to know how much more work needs to be done for it, let alone the VF 9, which we have yet to run or even see a prototype with a complete interior.

Our next seat in VF 8 won’t happen until this summer. If WinFast’s team is able to significantly improve these maneuverability and tuning issues by then, it would be a big signal that the company’s aggressive timeline and extensive expansion plans could be a reality – if we wear our blinds about supply chain, manufacturing for the moment. Ramp, compliance and delivery and support logistics. On top of that, there are details about the battery subscription program and the need to work responsibly with insurance companies.

This is a long to-do list, even if VF8 feels more ready and we’ll keep an eye on how WinFast is able to navigate those issues while waiting for more time behind the wheel in June.

Winfast provided flights, accommodation, lots of Vietnamese food and prototypes Green Car Report To bring you this firsthand drive report.

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