If this US$17,000 ($23,000) hatchback were sold in Singapore today, would you buy it?
What if you knew it was made in Vietnam?
Yes Vietnam, the land of pho and motorbikes, has launched a car, ready to buy today.
The car in question, the Fadil hatchback, is made by Vinfast, the automotive arm of Vietnamese property conglomerate Vingroup JSC.
It’s the latest product from the burgeoning South-east Asian nation, which is keen on building a modern manufacturing base.
“This makes a great contribution to the national economy,” said Vietnamese prime minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in a speech during a ceremony at VinFast’s complex of six automated factories, reported by Bloomberg.
Constructed in 21 months in the northern port city of Haiphong, the complex “affirms the Communist Party’s policy that the private sector is a very important driver of the economy”.
“I want VinFast to go to the regional and global markets,” the minister was quoted as saying.
VinFast is ambitious: it plans to manufacture 250,000 cars at first, ramping up to half a million vehicles by 2025.
But back to the interestingly-named Fadil.
The Vietnamese hatchback costs 394.5 million dong, or around $23,100.
That’s quite pricey, considering a 100c Honda Dream motorcycle in Vietnam costs around US$300 ($411), while a Russian Minsk sets you back around US$400.
But you do get a decent car for the money.
The Fadil is actually based upon the Karl Rocks, which is made by PSA Group’s Opel.
In Vietnam, it gets a 1.4-litre, four-cylinder engine making a modest 98hp and 128Nm and powers the front wheels via a CVT.
It’s decently equipped too, getting six airbags, electronic brake force distribution (EBD), stability control and hill start assist.
It’s not a coincidence Vinfast decided to take a safer route to their first hatchback, considering that their CEO is Jim Deluca, ex-vice-president of global manufacturing for General Motors.
Production will commence later this year on two other models, the LUX A2.0 sedan and LUX SA2.0 SUV, both based on older BMWs.
As a mark of both models’ importance, football star David Beckham and Miss Vietnam 2018 Tran Tieu Vy attended the launch at Paris Motor Show 2018!
So, would you actually put down money for this car?