Historically, it has been unusual for an entirely new car company to enter the Canadian market. Large corporations like GM or Toyota might introduce a new brand (see: Saturn and Scion, respectively) but brand-spanking-new marques have been few and far between.
Until the market started moving towards electric cars.
Like it or not, electrification has been something of a great equalizer in terms of car companies and their influence on the market. With legacy automakers needing to pivot away from their core strengths – read: internal combustion – the door has been opened for new players. Tesla, Rivian
, and a few others have identified this as an opportunity to get their foot in the door and grab of piece of this lucrative pie.
Including, of course, a Vietnamese company called VinFast. The VF8 is their two-row crossover, sized pretty much bang on with a Tesla Model Y
if you’re looking for an immediately recognizable comparison. VF8 is offered in two trims – Eco and Plus – both of which have a dual-motor providing all-wheel drive, though the Plus makes 402 horspower compared to the Eco’s 349 ponies. Both Eco and Plus are offered with an 87.7 kWh battery pack, good for an indicated 420 km and 400 km driving range on a full charge, respectively. A longer-range pack is planned.
Included in each trim is an array of advanced driver assistance tools such as lane centering and adaptive cruise control, so spending extra on a VF8 nets nothing in this category. Thanks to the magic of over-the-air updates, some of these features may not be included in yer new VF8 right away, so check to see if they are present before driving home.
Upgrading to the Plus does net gear like a panoramic sunroof, better sound system, vegan leather instead of leatherette upholstery, and heated/ventilated seats for front and rear outboard passengers. Still, the Eco provides features such as dual-zone climate control, an energy-saving heat pump, 15.6-inch infotainment screen mounted in the centre stack as the sole display (think Tesla), and an 8-speaker stereo. Only the front seats are heated in Eco trim, meaning the peanut galley will have to wear longjohns.
What We'd Choose
VinFast has chosen to front the Canadian market with a unique pricing structure. The VF8 Eco has a window sticker of $64,990 in our country, a sum which does not include freight and fees. However, there is an option for customers to buy the VF8 Eco for $54,990 and lease the car’s battery for $259 per month (there are no mileage limitations). Based on that $10k delta, owners would have to ditch their VF8 within 38 months in order to come out ahead on that deal.
Marketers at VinFast have only recently added that outright purchase price, perhaps after discovering that North American consumers don’t even like their TV remotes coming without batteries – let alone their cars. Still, for the driver who likes to swap vehicles every three years or less, the math could be appealing.
Every week, wheels.ca selects a new vehicle and takes a good look at its entry-level trim. If we find it worthy of your consideration, we'll let you know. If not, we'll recommend one - or the required options - which earns a passing grade.