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June 16, 2024

VinFast's Cars Are Moonwalking: First Impressions Of VF5, VF7, VF9, and e34

The main purpose of my trip to Vietnam was to try out VinFast’s cars that will make their way into the Philippines soon. The infamous VF8 isn’t included in the list of models for our country so my opinion of these cars are on an empty slate. I was really excited because this is the first time I can try a series of EVs of different sizes.

That excitement went out the window once we saw where we’re playing. It’s basically an empty paved straight road around 200 to 300 meters long with a large circular area at the end. There’s no improvised course, no cones, and no instruction aside from the two-way arrangement of the track to avoid collision. Just play with the cars at your own will, so I did.

VinFast VF5

I started my drive with the VF5. This is a subcompact crossover sized a tad smaller than a Toyota Raize, but sits lower with 168 mm of ground clearance. It has a single electric motor with 134 horsepower and 135 Nm of torque, capable of 326 km on a single charge. It was able to reach a top speed of 130 km/h with three people in the car although I’m not sure if there’s a limiter activated.

Upon entering the cabin, you’ll be greeted with the contrast of modern layout and practicality. There’s a lot of hard plastic but they made up for it with a digital gauge cluster, a floating driver-oriented touchscreen, and a rotary knob for the shifter that doesn’t have a Parking mode. You’ll have to shift to neutral and pull on the handbrake to park the car. It’s not really annoying, just different.

Another quirk is the air vent system. Under the touchscreen is a single vent that’s angled towards the driver, while the front passenger has two vents on their side of the dashboard. There’s no dedicated air vents for the rear occupants so good luck on the air circulation come summer in the Philippines.

Once you drive the VF5, you will immediately notice the lag in the throttle input. It doesn’t matter if you’re pressing the pedal gently or full throttle, the input comes late. A VinFast rep says this is because they made it for newbies to an EV so they’re concerned about them being surprised with the instant torque of the car. In my opinion though, the lag is too much, even worse than first-gen CVTs, that it would be hard to use in the notorious stop-and-go traffic of Metro Manila and other condensed cities in the country.

The ride comfort was hard to judge since the whole area is paved. However, I did a bit of slalom with imaginary cones with the VF5 and I must say, there’s a lot of room for improvement. The VF5 has a lot of body roll for a small car that it dips too much at a relatively low speed of 40 km/h. It didn’t help that the front seats have flat shoulders and minimal bolstering in the middle, leaving you swaying side to side.

The rear also has its fair share of quirks. The rear seats are basically bench type as the bottom and backrests are flat. Even if you buckle up, you’ll still end up swaying here. Also, the floor area of the VF5 is higher in the second row than in front, thanks to the battery pack underneath. This gives you a higher knee position than usual, leading to lack of thigh support and concentrated weight on your butt. Basically, it’s like the third row of an SUV with only more legroom.

Good thing the VF5 has some nifty tricks like Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Blind Spot Detection, Door Opening Warning, Rear Parking Assist, and Rear Camera to give it more fighting chance. Still, it was not a good appetizer for the VinFast’s lineup.

VinFast VF9

Since the other cars were being used, I went to the opposite end of the spectrum and drove the VF9. This low riding, three-row full-size SUV has an imposing stance and is gifted with luxury appointments inside. There are massage functions for the front seats, while the second row has captain seats with massage function too. It can be controlled by the secondary touchscreen dedicated for the second row.

There’s no instrument panel since the information is on the windshield itself, courtesy of the heads-up display. The shifter became a series of buttons, and the door unlock mechanism is electric, though there’s still a mechanical control beside the bottle holder part of the doors.

Powering this behemoth are two electric motors with a total output of 402 horsepower and 620 Nm of torque, transferred to all wheels via All Wheel Drive and can run up to 602 kilometers on a single charge. Despite that superiority, the VF9 accelerates slower than the VF7, though it has a higher top speed of 200 km/h.

Unfortunately, the VF9 couldn’t escape the quirks of VinFast. One, despite its luxurious appeal and appointments, it has very stiff stalks for the turn signal and wipers. It’s hard to activate them with one finger. Second is the suspension. VinFast is probably making it soft for ride comfort but it ended up as too much. Even a simple left turn at 30 to 35 km/h would make the car dip its right side. We tried it with a heavier left side to make a left turn so that there’s more weight on the inner part of the vehicle. The VF9 still dips too much, unable to manage body roll.

Its only merit is the sensitivity of its Advanced Driver Assist System. The VF9 has a plethora of safety features but they are not intrusive. The Lane Keeping System doesn’t abruptly steer you back into your lane and instead, just gives vibrations if you’re about to go outside of the line. Its cameras are also sharp in recognizing street signs, especially the speed limit signs.

VinFast VF7

I was waiting for the e34 but I was persuaded to try the VF7 because it’s apparently really good. After finishing a few runs, it was indeed my instant favorite among the bunch. Most of it is because it’s the most mechanically sound car in the lineup. It’s more stable in high speed turns (probably thanks to the divorced rear suspension), has a slightly better throttle input at low speed, and has the fastest acceleration.

There are two variants of the VF7 but guessing from the acceleration, the unit we tested was probably the top of the line with two motors, a total output of 349 horsepower and 500 Nm of torque, has an All-Wheel Drive, and targeted (that’s what the spec sheet said, ‘target’. I guess they haven’t really tested it yet) to go up to 431 km on a single charge. It had no problem reaching a top speed of 175 km/h, but the VF9 still trumps it at maximum speed.

It can’t escape issues though. If you floor the VF7, your head will be pushed back immediately but it will take another second for the motors to really go at speed. I guess this is part of their ‘newbie proof’ throttle but I hope it can be set to a more EV-ish touch. Second is despite the improvement in the front seats, the rear seats are still very much flat, like that of the VF5 which is a shame considering the segment the VF7 is trying to capture. Last is the VF7 unit I drove has a very loud humming noise when idle. I know it’s not normal because the other VF7 unit isn’t as noisy as the one I drove. But there are other cars that show the same tendency although not as loud as the VF7.

VinFast VF e34

I ended the day with a bit of irony as my last drive was the first battery-electric vehicle by VinFast. The VF e34 is slightly bigger than the VF5 putting it in the size-range of the Toyota Yaris Cross. It has a single motor putting out 148 horsepower and 242 Nm of torque, with a range of 318 kilometers and a top speed of 135 km/h during my run.

The VF e34 perfectly encapsulates the brand’s pursuit of modern design. Sure, the exterior looks dated compared to the more recent releases like the VF7 and VF9, but the cabin has a lot of personality. There’s a portrait touchscreen at the center of the dashboard that cascades to become part of the center console. The air vents were all moved into the right side of the dash. There’s no heads-up display yet but their digital gauge is a bit more sci-fi looking than what I’m used to with other brands. I also like the Park mode when you press the rotary shifter, unlike in the VF5 where it’s totally gone.

Now I didn’t say all things are practical but you can’t deny the front part of the cabin looks good. As for performance, it’s between the VF5 and VF7 in terms of acceleration. Good thing though is the e34’s suspension felt closer to the VF7 making it more stable during my imaginary slalom run.

What I noticed with VinFast’s cars is that every single one of them is moonwalking. They seem to be moving forward in terms of design, safety features, and EV technology but things are going backward because they’re overlooking the basics of car engineering. What’s the point of green mobility if you can’t go to Marilaque or Nasugbu because you’ll be dizzy from all the turns or you’ll have to go really slow to avoid body roll.

This is the reason why in my previous article, I talked about the brand’s lack of automotive backbone and their diversion when asked about partners in making EVs. No experienced car manufacturer would overlook something as simple as stiffness of the turn signal or wiper stalk, nor the bench seat at the second row of the 5-seater cars. It’s also surprising how the VF9, with its low ride height and low center of gravity, sways like a boat on a stormy sea whenever it makes a turn at speed.

As I said before, VinFast’s heart is in the right place. Who wouldn’t want an affordable EV, right? It’s just that instead of focusing on design, they should find a way to perfect the basics of these cars. There’s still a bit of time before they start selling here in the Philippines. I hope VinFast can make the necessary adjustments to make these cars better because the way things are right now, they will have a hard time competing with Chinese EVs.

Words and Photos by Vincent Villa
Note: no detailed photos of the Vinfast e34 and VF9 because the group was told to suddenly pack up.


  1. So Not so fast after all😁😁😁. it will really take a decades of experience to make a reliable and durable cars, suppliers included.

  2. I wonder what is the status of Vinfast now in US? After the delays in North Carolina Plants and the drawbacks due to their vehicles' safety warnings issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

  3. I agree much with what was said here. If by me, I would prefer them to launch one successful mass-market model, much like what Geely did with the Coolray and MG with the ZS then proceed with the next model. In VF case, it aims to be fast by doing it quickly with 4 models in the first foray. This hopes it does not fall fast too as models have not gone into proper real life road testing.

    1. VF5 and VFe34 are tĥe affordable EVs of Vinfast
      They're priced at 1.1 Million up to 1.6 Million Pesos
      Vinfast VF3 which looks like a Suzuki Jimny and Jetour QQ Ice Cream mini EV is gonna be available in the Philippine market either later this year or next year..Its likely be priced at 600,000 Pesos or 700,000 Pesos.


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