What is it?
“It’s a dream car,” says Henrik Fisker, the former BMW and Aston Martin designer behind the Fisker Karma. The new range-extended electric saloon certainly has visual presence, but then you’d expect that from the man behind the Aston Martin DB9 and V8 Vantage.
Beneath that striking bodywork though is some very exciting technology, aimed at offering guilt-free performance in a luxury saloon. The Karma is a series hybrid, meaning the 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine is there only to act as a generator when the lithium-ion battery pack that drives a pair of rear-mounted electric motors runs out of charge.
The drivetrain allows the Karma to boast some very impressive numbers on paper. Total power is 397bhp and total torque a mighty 959lb ft. It can crack 0-60mph in 6.3sec and reach a top speed limited to 125mph, while returning 62.4mpg (converted from US certified figure) at the pumps and emitting 53g/km of CO2 on the EU cycle.
We’ve had two drives in the Fisker Karma before, one in a pre-production model and then another in one of the first production cars off the line in Valmet, Finland. But like any new car, let alone one from a start-up manufacturer, there have been early teething problems, notably to the battery packs.
So the Karma driven here is one with a series of software and mechanical upgrades, and is in the exact same specification as the first 350 or so Karmas that have been delivered to customers in the US.
What’s it like?
The Fisker Karma looks like nothing else on the road, and it drives like nothing else either. It is certainly not a driver’s car in the traditional sense, but this does not make it without appeal. It’s full of little quirks and nuances that turn driving it into a memorable experience.
Push the button to start, for instance, and select ‘D’ from the pyramid mounted on the high centre tunnel, and a futuristic Tron-style hum sounds outside the car. That’s to warn pedestrians of your presence, but it always raises a smile inside the cabin too.