2012 Fisker Karma Review

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2012 Fisker Karma Overview

Has the Car of the Future finally arrived, or will we look back and laugh? The 2012 Fisker Karma—one of the first mass-produced high-end luxury/sport electric vehicles—has finally rolled off the assembly line and sparked much interest and debate.

One thing everyone can agree on is that Dutch designer Henry Fisker has a lot of chutzpah. With his partner Bernard Koehler, they founded Fisker Automotive in 2007 to combine luxury with responsibility. Untold millions of dollars later, the Karma has been born.

To be sure, it is an impressive piece of machinery. Fisker used the snazzy sports car silhouette from the 1960s as his template, and he managed to capture that while still creating a modern-looking vehicle. Except for the grille, which has been likened to a goofy moustache, or perhaps the prom date that suddenly exposes a toothless grin. Aside from that minor blemish, the car truly is a looker inside and out.

But its main selling point, and the subject of much contention, is its hybrid engine. The Karma contains a 4-cylinder 260-hp turbocharged engine with 258 lb-ft of torque, which charges a 20kW-hr lithium-ion battery pack that propels 2 electric motors that are connected to the drivetrain, giving it a total of 403 hp and a whopping 981 lb-ft of torque.

In Stealth mode, the car uses only 1 electric motor and promises a 50-mile range without using a drop of gasoline. This ride is nice and quiet, perfect for most people getting around town. It goes from 0 to 60 in 7.9 seconds and has a top speed of 95 mph. Switching over to Sports mode, however, is a different story. The ride becomes markedly noisier (Fisker says a new exhaust is on the way), but the car’s power and handling increase dramatically: 0 to 60 in 5.9 seconds and a top speed of 125 mph. The car is estimated to go around 300 miles in this mode, before it needs a 6-hour charge.

But people can’t decide whether the Karma has, well, good karma. True, the company does align itself with eco-friendly companies, even offering recycled wood in its paneling, but some say it’s all for naught because of the car’s small electric range. And all this technology and innovation does not come cheap—models start in the high five figures. Right now this car is designed for the 1% that want to feel good about saving the planet without skimping on their own comfort.

Three trim levels are available, each of which boasts a creative use of recycled materials for the interior: the Eco-Standard, the Eco-Sport and the Eco-Chic (the Eco-Sport adds a rear camera and navigation).

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