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Karma Hybrid comes with a drool worthy body and a near $100k price tag

Although many people had doubts whether Fisker's voluptuous Karma hybrid would ever make it to production, the company is making good on its promise to take on the big guns in the automotive world. To show its good faith, Fisker gave automotive publications the chance to test its first hybrid sedan.

For those that don't remember, the Karma features a turbocharged 2.0-liter Ecotec four-cylinder engine (supplied by General Motors) that develops 260hp. In addition, the Karma also features two rear-mounted 201hp electric motors (402hp total) which get their power from a 21 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Like the current generation Prius (as an optional feature), there are solar panels in the roof to power interior accessories.

According to the previews, despite having a relatively complex and powerful 260hp engine on tap, it is only used as a generator. As a result, the Karma's electric motors are always providing the forward thrust for the vehicle.

Car and Driver:

Tugging the “sport” paddle to the left of the steering wheel brings additional energy to bear. When the gasoline engine kicks in to supplement the battery pack’s wattage—to trim the 0-to-60-mph run from a claimed 7.9 seconds to 5.9, or to add 250 miles to the driving range—the extra thrust is accompanied by the whistle of a turbo spooling up, the snarl of angry exhaust gas, and a resonant boom or two…

But the physics conspire against it keeping pace with other $100K sports sedans. In spite of the joys of low-rpm electric torque, the realities of a curb weight well above 4000 pounds and only one gear ratio mean that mileage is where this car excels. 

Inside Line:

All the exterior panels on the Karma are made of either aluminum — including the hood and outer door panels — or molded resin composite as on all four fender panels. The supersize 124.4-inch wheelbase (almost 10 inches longer than on a Porsche Panamera) is the exterior's most notable dimension and the 22-inch wheels bookend the look quite nicely... 

Our only gripe was that the Karma didn't feel as solid all around as its German and Japanese competitors. Wind noise and road noise, however, are very well contained overall. Some smaller wheels might help out in the ride quality department, too, but according to Fisker's engineers, a change in that direction would bring the center member of the steering mechanism a little too close to the ground. A set of 21-inch all-season tires is as small as they're willing to go. 

Autocar:

But the Karma has several vital factors in its favor, not least its stop-the-traffic looks, its thorough engineering, its great driving characteristics and a price that, while high, doesn’t look unrealistic against the competition. If the car makes a good start — and the 3,000 orders already held seem to promise as much — it could easily become the next must-have automobile among Hollywood’s glitterati. 

The 2012 Fisker Karma is expected to have a base price of $95,500. Conveniently, this places it in direct competition with the Porsche Panamera Hybrid S (base price $95,000). There's no question that the Karma has the Panamera beat (by far) on looks, but the Panamera has a proven family history/pedigree while the Karma is starting with a clean slate. 

With 3,000 buyers having already waiting in line to get their hands on the Karma, at least a wealthy few are willing to give the vehicle a chance.



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RE: A 260 hp gas engine?
By mars2k on 2/21/2011 4:11:37 PM , Rating: 2
Great post. What we need is more information not a lot of negativity.

I wonder why they don't use a turbo diesel instead of gas diesels are more efficient particularly at partial loads?

By the way Fisker has been making beautiful exotic automobiles in Switzerland for decades. They are an exclusive and well respected brand overseas. Kudos to them


RE: A 260 hp gas engine?
By BZDTemp on 2/22/2011 9:28:16 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
By the way Fisker has been making beautiful exotic automobiles in Switzerland for decades. They are an exclusive and well respected brand overseas. Kudos to them


I'm confused - what cars are you think of that Fisker Automotive or Henrik Fisker for that matter have made in Switzerland?

The designs from Henrik Fisker that I can think of are some for BMW, Aston Martin, Fisker Coachworks and most recently a sports car by a small German (or is it Dutch) company. Plus of course the car we are seeing in this article and the unused design made for Tesla.


"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher

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