And Pininfarina styling.
Vietnam is better known for the countless number of motorcycles cluttering its streets, not large luxury SUVs, but all that could be set to change thanks to a company known as VinFast. Two years ago, we heard that this new automaker would be unveiling a sedan and an SUV based on the previous-generation BMW 5 Series and X5. Now, there's an even more lavish X5-based flagship SUV called the President, of which just 500 will be made. Its BMW roots aside, it's what's underneath the redesigned styling that's even more unexpected.
You see, VinFast decided that BMW's own 4.4-liter turbocharged V8 engine somehow wasn't the right fit. Instead, it decided to use a 6.2-liter V8 from General Motors producing 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque.
The outputs are identical to those of the Chevrolet Tahoe which is fitted with the same 6.2L V8. In the President, the V8 is paired with full-time four-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission. It'll hit 62 mph in 6.8 seconds, so it isn't quite as quick as the original V8-powered BMW X5 it is based on.
While the powerful BMW SUV profile is noticeable, the President has been comprehensively restyled so most won't notice the BMW connection, which is a good thing. The same goes for the cabin - yes, the shape of the steering wheel is pure BMW X5 and the gear shift lever looks familiar, too, but a lot of effort has gone into giving the President its own personality.
The same applies to the less-luxurious Lux SA 2.0, which is a more basic version of the President. Although this particular SUV isn't planned for the US market, VinFast does intend to bring its stunning electric SUV here sometime next year.
While the startup is certainly doing things its own way, let's hope the cars themselves are as good to drive as they are intriguing to look at. Who knows, maybe we'll get a future BMW 8 Series with a Lamborghini V12 thrown under the hood and wrapped in a sexy Pininfarina-styled body? Anything is possible.