Fisker Karma | First Drive
Fight Global Warming in Style
Spend 5 minutes looking at the car and it is evident that this is a product of a designer. It is one of those cars that barely changed from concept design to final production. It’s got strong lines running along the long hood of the 4 door coupé, muscular looking fenders that bulge out the side and massive 22 inch wheels that would make Lil Wayne jealous. With the Z8 inspired nose and the Aston inspired body style, the Fisker Karma definitely makes its presence felt.
This car rides on green credentials, starting from the paint that uses crushed recycled glass instead of metal flakes to add glitter, to the wood trim in the car that is lacquer free and only from trees destroyed in Forest fires. As with any luxury car brand, the interior is a very nice place to be. Fisker claim the Ireland sourced leather is the best leather that can be had. An animal free interior (sans leather) is an option too. The roof has a solar panel on it that can generate enough energy to power your iPod, interior lights and the likes. While parked, the solar panel powers the fans in the car to circulate the inside air to ensure your bottom does not have to rest on hot leather.
Get into the car and press the engine start button and you are greeted with…..silence. The car switches on in electric mode with absolutely no sound making it feel like a library. On full charge, the Karma can go up to 80kms without using any precious fossil fuel. However, the Fisker Karma is slightly different to other electric cars and hybrids in that it has a GM sourced 2.0 Litre petrol engine that does not power the car but acts as a generator to top up the batteries instead. The car is powered by the 2 electric motors in the back capable of 403bhp and 951 lb-ft of torque. This type of setup ensures you don’t suffer “range anxiety”. The petrol engine makes sure you can comfortably reach your charging station to load up on volts.
In ‘Stealth’ mode the car runs purely on battery power with the only audible sound being a UFO like exhaust note inspired by Hollywood, playing through the speakers placed on the outside. There is no concept of a gearbox here. Floor the (not so loud) pedal and all 403 e-horses will pull you to the 100kph mark in less than 6 seconds. There is no kickback from switching to a lower gear or an upshift for that matter. The power is constant, starting from 0 all the way to the claimed top speed of 200kph. It feels strange. Very strange. Tap the left paddle and the 2.0L force fed petrol engine fires up engaging sport mode. The dials turn red and you can finally hear a traditional engine under the hood. A not so good sounding engine though. The suspension is nicely sprung and the ride is very comfortable with little compromise to the handling. The car was designed to be a GT and it feels and drives like one. Everything about the car says GT. Except for the driver space which felt a little cramped due to the centre console running all the way from the dash to the back of the car. Rear passenger space is further limited by the sloping roof, a problem common with most 4 door coupés.
The Fisker Karma is not a driver’s car. It is a car for an individual that is concerned about offsetting the carbon footprint of an entire industrial town in China. In bespoke style of course. It has attempted to rewrite automotive manufacturing. It has its shortcomings and it will be a while before it finally catches on and is perfected, but it is a fantastic first attempt. It wins at being a beautiful piece of art and a great example of engineering. It fails at winning the hearts of petrolheads though. Maybe it could give birth to a new generation of Watt-heads, sounds apt for the internet generation?