Yesterday I drove a gorgeous “Eclipse Black” Karma production prototype along with my 19-year-old grandson Blake (who had also driven a Volt and a LEAF with me previously). The following comments reflect his observations as well as mine.
The car is even more impressive in person than in the best photos I’ve seen. The paint is smooth as glass. You’d expect to see a Playboy centerfold climb in and drive off silently (“stealthily,” Fisker would say). I wouldn’t expect anything less from Scandinavian Henrik Fisker!
The Karma, like the Volt, is an extended-range electric vehicle – a fact which Fisker used to make a publicity splash with by saying the Karma is “the world’s first,” disregarding the Volt in the process. Its rationale was the assertion that the Karma is truer to the EREV concept in that the genset never mechanically powers the wheels.
Aside from that contention which GM never commented on, what can be factually said is the Karma is much larger, heavier, and definitely more expensive than a Volt.
It rides on a long 124.4-inch wheelbase on huge 22-inch wheels. Two 201-horsepower electric motors drive the rear wheels. The aforementioned generator is a GM four-cylinder that is turbocharged to produce 260-horsepower.
The 20-kwh battery is by A123 Systems, placed in the center like the Volt’s battery is, and also like the Volt – and LEAF – it has an 8-year warranty.
On our first attempt to start driving, the car would not go into Drive from Park or Neutral – Fisker factory people had to do a total reprogramming of its software, not merely some kind of reboot.
As soon as we hit the road, our Fisker host said, “slam the accelerator hard to the floor” and I did just that …
In Stealth mode it feels faster than the Volt, much faster than LEAF – specs are 0-60 in 7.9 sec & 95mph top speed. In Sport mode it’s MUCH faster than either the Volt or LEAF – a real “back slapper.”
Fisker says actual specs are 0-60 mph in 5.8 sec and 125 mph top speed. All-electric range is said to be 50 miles (80km) with efficiency at 100 MPGe (2.4L/100km). Its total combined range is 300 miles (483 km).
“The EPA data has not yet been developed,” said our Fisker host, “but the car averages about 40 mpg in Sport mode.”
• Karma’s highly-distinctive, almost exotic styling – very impressive in person
• Use of a Lightweight Extruded Aluminum Spaceframe
• Lightweight Aluminum and Composite Body Panels
• Four very comfortable, sporty bucket seats (comparable to Volt’s plus they power adjust)
• Interior finish on a par w/ any Rolls or Jaguar I’ve been in
• Excellent road feel, handling & cornering even better than Volt or LEAF
• A Start button located where Volt & LEAF place theirs on the dash
• Traction control that can be disabled
• Forward “creep” from a stop like Volt (but non-defeatable, I think)
• When started, Karma defaults to “Stealth mode” (battery only)
• “Sport mode” is always available using a paddle on the steering wheel
• Maximum braking regeneration is available by switching to “Hill mode”
• The Karma is unbelievably low slung, making entry/egress very awkward
• The trunk is TINY – barely large enough for a golf bag & a small suitcase (hatchbacks Volt & Leaf have vastly more hauling/luggage space)
• There’s a bad blind area when looking rearward over your right shoulder
• The center display is “washed-out” compared to Volt or LEAF (see above photo to compare it to the bright/clear driver’s display; it’s more noticeable in person)
• Karma has even more touch-screen controls than Volt or LEAF (good for iPads, but dangerous in a car)
As you can see my likes outnumber dislikes by more than two to one. The Karma’s MSRP ranges from $95,500-$108,900. Options are a solar roof, navigation system, and paint choices.
This entry was posted on Thursday, September 1st, 2011 at 5:55 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.