2012 Fisker Karma: First drive review
A new market segment is solidified with the head-turning Fisker Karma.
The man behind the Karma's design, Henrik Fisker, is no stranger to penning beautiful cars. He was responsible for the BMW Z8 roadster, as well as Aston Martin's DB9 and V8 Vantage.
Not familiar with Fisker, the fledgling electric automaker? Don't feel bad — the California-based upstart is just getting its feet wet in the market with its first vehicle, the Karma sedan.
The svelte car boasts a very powerful electric powertrain, gorgeous looks, and enough environmental consciousness to make Mother Earth blush. The Fisker Karma has the intention of shaking up the luxury car market and boasts the specs to do the job.
But is it good enough to really pull it off?
Reviews: Find expert and user reviews
In a nutshell, the Karma is a large luxury car with an efficient electric motor setup powering the rear wheels. Despite its chiseled sports-car physique, it's actually a 4-door supersedan that seats four.
The Karma is available in three trims, dubbed EcoStandard, EcoSport and EcoChic. None of them are drastically different from one another, with the higher-end Sport and Chic variants essentially just opening up additional paint and upholstery options.
The base Karma comes fairly well equipped. Along with all the typical convenience and entertainment goodies within, all Karmas share the same electric drivetrain, solar-panel roof and enormous 22-inch wheels wrapped in custom Goodyear rubber (sized 255/35 front and 285/35 rear).
Under the hood
Unsurprisingly, it's under the hood where the Karma's most interesting aspects are found. While there is a traditional gasoline engine here, a turbocharged 2-liter 4-cylinder unit sourced from General Motors, it has no direct connection to the wheels. Instead, it powers a 175-kilowatt generator, which then provides an extra 250 miles to the Karma's battery-only, emission-free 50-mile range. The Karma gets its actual motion from a pair of electric motors mounted in the rear, good for 150-kilowatts each. These motors are powered by a central 20-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery system, as well as by the aforementioned gas engine. The end result is an electric equivalent of 403 horsepower, and a whopping 959 lb-ft of torque, available immediately (from "zero" rpm) and constantly. In the normal, battery-only Stealth mode, Fisker claims a zero-to-60-mph time of less than eight seconds. Sport mode slashes this to 6.3 seconds.
The Karma restores its charge in multiple ways. A standard electrical outlet will do the job overnight, or you can opt for the Level 2 charging system, a high-power setup that cuts full charging time to just 5.5 hours. Additionally, power is restored on the fly as the Karma is driven, with a regenerative brake system that uses the electric motors for the first 0.25 G of deceleration, at which point the traditional brakes take over. Finally, there's the standard solar-panel roof, which Fisker states is good for around 200 "free miles" per year. According to government standards, the Karma is rated at 54 mpge, although Fisker maintains that a theoretical 100 mpge is possible — depending on how you do the math.
With the exception of a few minor issues, the Karma's interior does a good job reflecting the car's price bracket. It's interesting, reasonably plush and fairly intuitive, and the 4-seat layout provides a sense of sportiness as well. However, good luck fitting anything other than scrawny kids in the back seats; calling the rear seating area "cramped" would be a compliment. This also applies to the trunk.
The interior is eye-catching, very much a concept car turned production model, but it can feel a bit over the top at times. The steering wheel, for instance, could stand to be a bit more traditional. The available blue interior color scheme doesn't work quite right either, at least not for a premium vehicle. It comes off more like the upholstery found on your average United Airlines flight. While fit and finish is mostly quite nice, there are a few minor grievances here as well. The GM-sourced switchgear feels, well, GM-sourced. And, at least with the color scheme of our test car, interior reflections wash out the 10.2-inch, haptic feedback display screen that serves as an interface for most of the car's controls.
Must-See on MSN
It seems the upstarts in the automobile industry are the EV makers. This EV along with the Tesla is indeed interesting and both have a better advertised range than any EV produced by GM or Nissan. Yes, they cost more.
Qutoed - The available blue interior color scheme doesn't work quite right either, at least not for a premium vehicle. It comes off more like the upholstery found on your average United Airlines flight.
Really !!! You could not come up with a better discription for the Karma Interior.
If this was a Lamborghini, I am sure you would be more creative in your use of words.
This is Ultrasuede.