The Fisker Karma: Best Car Ever, or Your Worst Nightmare?

by Chris Martin

These days, it seems like Americans have more and more polarized opinions about various subjects. From weighty topics like politics and religion to less important subjects like music and entertainment, more people are leaning toward the “thumbs up or down” approach to deciding what they like.

Well, this article is about a new luxury car on the market. There will undoubtedly be some people who love it, as well as others who just despise it. But one thing you can say unequivocally about this automobile: it’s extremely interesting.

Presenting: The Fisker Karma.

It’s garnering praise from certain sectors because it is being marketed as the world’s first plug-in hybrid ultra-luxury sports car. It retails for about $116,000 and has the opulent exterior details and creature comforts associated with that pricing category. But it also boasts a 2-liter, 250 horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and a lithium-iron phosphate battery pack which helps the car average 53 miles per gallon.

Not surprisingly, the Karma also has its share of detractors. Even though the company is based in California, the car itself is manufactured in Finland. Fisker also benefits from almost $170 million of taxpayer-funded loans, courtesy of incentives from the U.S. Department of Energy. And despite its colossal price tag, the Karma doesn’t get any better fuel economy than a standard Toyota Prius hybrid.

The namesake of the boutique luxury carmaker is Hank Fisker, a former auto designer for BMW and Ford who is admittedly targeting the more-money-than-I-know-what-to-do-with segment of the marketplace. He claims that some 1,500 Karmas have been produced thus far and that orders are outpacing production. And with unique amenities such as:

  • unusually large 22-inch wheels
  • a one-of-a-kind solar panel roof
  • a stealth/sport mode option that allows the driver to switch between fuel-efficiency and extra power
  • uber-green accents like hardwood veneer from logs salvaged from Lake Michigan’s floor

Yes, this car certainly appeals to the wealthy, statement-making buyer who can afford high auto insurance premiums.

That said, drivers looking for a Porsche-like experience might be a bit disappointed with the Karma. At 5,300 pounds, it’s perhaps the heaviest sedan in the world. It goes from 0 to 60mph in a pedestrian 6.9 seconds. And when you combine its curiously “slumped” design and its ponderous feel on the road, you might be inclined to declare the Karma to be more sizzle than substance.

Whatever your first impressions are of the Fisker Karma, its plug-in capability, exclusive cabin accoutrements, and overall lavishness definitely stimulates conversation about its perceived merits or drawbacks. And really, isn’t that the ultimate goal for a product being marketed as the world’s most interesting car?

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