Vietnam’s Vinfast aims for luxury crowd with pushrod GM power and BMW X5 platform

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Vinfast, a Vietnamese scooter and auto manufacturer, is hoping to make a big splash with its upcoming President model. The luxury SUV is based on Vinfast’s LUX SA2.0, itself built from the previous-generation BMW X5 that’s been updated for improved crashworthiness. The Vietnamese brand’s other products include the LUX A2.0, which rides on the bones of the outgoing BMW 5 Series, and the subcompact Fadil, essentially an Opel Karl. What makes the President different? It’s much more luxurious—and far more ambitious. 

Inside the President is a quilted leather interior that doesn’t look anything like the 2017 X5, save for the steering wheel. Not bad at all. 

The most striking change to the President is the addition of a Gen V GM V-8, the same 420-hp EcoTec3 you’d find in a Silverado, a Yukon, or a Tahoe. Vinfast says it will shove the President to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds. The V-8 is backed by an eight-speed automatic and a full-time all-wheel-drive system. Judging by the see-through drivetrain photo, the gearbox seems to be GM’s 8L90—no big surprise there.

Vinfast has priced the President at the equivalent of $164,000, and buyers will pay a premium for exclusivity. Just 500 President models will be built, and they’re all destined for the Vietnamese market. If you want your own pushrod-powered X5, you’d better get handy with a wrench and a laptop.

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