What is it?
Regardless of what its makers hope and despite its extraordinary specification, a drive in the Fisker Karma does not feel like a glimpse into the future. This is largely because for the most part driving this ground-breaking new car is such an abidingly normal experience. It is only when you climb from the Karma back into the old world that the more revealing sight hoves into view: one that now feels substantially like the past.
What can we surmise from this? Only that the cleverest thing about this ever so clever car is not its twin 201bhp electric motors, its 260bhp petrol engine/generator nor even its 20kWh lithium ion battery pack. It is its timing.
What’s it like?
Architecturally the Karma’s closest rival is the Mercedes CLS. Conceptually it’s out on its own. Running on electric power alone, no Rolls-Royce ever felt as effortless as this. Although maximum performance comes only when you select Sport and let the petrol engine kick in, so blaring is its noise it’s greatest talent is for shattering your tranquillity. Internally this unworthy ex-Pontiac engine is known as ‘the dragon’, and they don’t mean it kindly.
So turn it off, put up with merely fleet rather than truly fast and let it waft. Sit back and soak up the fine ride and survey the simple, stylish, sustainable interior. In here there are lessons for all manufacturers to learn.
Just don’t expect too much. The Karma is unique among four door cars in making an Aston Rapide feel spacious, nor is there enough space in the disappointingly shallow boot. We also experienced minor software glitches on an early but not pre-production car.
It’s important too to understand what kind of car this is. Visually it might carry overtones of both BMW Z8 and Aston Vantage (Henrik Fisker styled both), but this is no sports car. It’s a massively heavy cruiser with an immense wheelbase, and despite a centre of gravity lower than a Ford GT’s, it feels it. ‘Cumbersome’ is not too strong a word to describe its low speed handling, though the electro-hydraulic steering is lovely and high speed stability and poise beyond reproach.