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Under the hood, the Fisker looks like a conventional car, with a GM-sourced 260-hp direct-injection turbo four tucked in. But this portion of the powertrain terminates at the generator, a place where you’d usually see a torque converter. Even the exhaust exits in front of the cabin.
Inside, the dashboard cowl mimics the hood’s salacious curves, and faux suede or eco-conscious leather covers nearly every surface. A pyramid-shaped nodule in the center console serves as the push-button gear selector. This is where the trouble starts. While creeping, especially in reverse, the Karma lurches in a most non-luxurious manner. Roll faster, and the phenomenon subsides as the pedestrian-warning sound warbles, flying-saucer style, outside the car.
At startup, the Fisker rolls in all-electric stealth mode. Pull the left steering-wheel paddle to engage sport mode, which fires up the engine to provide juice to the twin rear motors, providing a total of 402 horsepower. Zero to 60 comes in a fleet 5.9 seconds. Acceleration trails off from there, yielding a quarter-mile in 14.8 seconds at 94 mph. Moving 5383 pounds, 442 more than a Porsche Cayenne S, in any direction is not light work, but the Fisker stops and turns like a sports sedan with a 170-foot 70-to-0-mph braking performance, 0.89 g of cornering grip, and a 43-mph trip through our slalom test—nearly as fast as a BMW M5.
The batteries lower the center of gravity to 18.5 inches, aiding in the Karma’s flat cornering attitude. There’s a solidity to the chassis. You feel the road-hugging weight from the driver’s seat. The Fisker crests hills like it’s trying to drive through them, without any apparent float; road imperfections are only manifest through the steering wheel.
In the front seats, the Karma provides comfort to outlast the 300-mile driving range. But the rear seats lack space for a car that’s more than five inches longer than a Mercedes-Benz E-class, and there’s no room for toes under the front buckets. Styling and powertrain packaging take priority over cabin space in the Fisker, and trunk space is a mere seven cubic feet.
Using gasoline to make the electrical power for propulsion, we managed 24 mpg.
Its complexity and pure-EV capability make the Karma unique, and its EV-mode efficiency has no equal among luxury cars, but at this price we expect more in terms of technology and fit and finish.
It’s one thing to borrow switchgear from another manufacturer (GM, in this case), but the Fisker uses an older design for the turn-signal stalk (this is perhaps the only place the Volt is more stylish).
Panel gaps are inconsistent. Some menus on the infotainment screen are so dark they become illegible in moderate sunlight. The Fisker has keyless ignition but no sensors or buttons to unlock the doors when the driver has the fob in his pocket. And there is no smartphone connectivity to manage charging.