At the 2018 Paris Motor Show, Vinfast, automotive up and comer and the latest high profile branching out of the Vietnam’s Vingroup conglomerate, have brought their first production models to bear, with a continuing aim of breaching the premium market.
While the two models, a saloon and a crossover, looks to have not had their Pininfarina bodies altered since we saw them last in their ‘concept’ form, they have gained official production names with the four-door 3 Series rival to be dubbed the LUX A2.0 and the SUV adopting the moniker of LUX AS2.0. Clearly, Vinfast likes luxury.
It’s unclear at this point when exactly these two cars will actually land in the possession of buyers, but the ingredient list looks promising so far. As mentioned, they both gain Pininfarina styling (for better or worse), but also receives powertrain aid from BMW. Both vehicles will be powered by a single 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine - probably the B48 - from their Munich-based supply partners.
Additionally, the company has saved engineering expense and time by licensing a previous-generation BMW platform for use in the A2.0 and SA2.0, giving them even more relation to the 5 Series and X5. It’s likely the sole engine will also be mated to a sole transmission, and that being the staple of recent-generation BMWs: the ZF-8HP torque converter automatic.
Supposedly, the company plans to introduce variety into their debutant pair by making the engine produce varying levels of power depending on trim level and the like. Not a new idea by any stretch, but the question then becomes a matter of whether they will use an existing BMW tune or fashion their own spin on the B48.
Regardless, outputs have been confirmed at 175bhp and 227bhp (130kW and 170kW), making them instead resemble the older-generation N20 family, their small discrepancy in peak power being accounted for the lack of BMW’s Valvetronic variable valve timing system, which was not licensed.
Vinfast plans to begin initial production starting March 2019 as it increases volume and build to their targeted full scale output in September of next year at their newly constructed facility not far from the northern city of Hanoi.
The company also hints at possible electrification options for both these cars and latter models, and that may come sooner than expected thanks to their parent company’s reach into manufacturing electric scooters in large volume.
Going forward, Vinfast plans to expand their automotive line-up beyond the technological and developmental aid of BMW, turning instead to General Motors, who have green lit their use of their small car platform used the the Opel Karl (also known as the Vauxhall Viva). Presumably, the company hopes to provide mobilise Vietnam’s masses with the introduction of this less expensive entry-level model.