2013 Fisker Karma EVer Review: Green, Clean, Earth-Shaking Machine

For those into green speed and something different the 2013 Fisker Karma EVer hybrid luxury sports sedan might do the trick

CONS:

  • Quirky centre console


Toronto, ON
— Every so often, a car comes along that is so special in so very many ways, it immediately stakes a claim to becoming an instant classic. The 2013 Fisker Karma EVer is just such a car. Now, before you go thinking that this reviewer is predisposed to outlandish exaggeration, let’s take a quick look, shall we?

Exhibit A: The Karma is one of the most stunning examples of automotive designs on the planet. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But if the beholder doesn’t see beauty in the Karma, he or she needs a new prescription—stat. Plus some new eyeglasses—double stat.

Next: The Fisker performs as one would expect a premium luxury sedan to perform. Meaning, it’s supremely quiet and comfortable. The Karma is quick but it’s no speed demon; it would, however, hold its own against all but the most extreme examples in this segment.

In fact, under power, the Karma is a revelation—extra smooth, like Barry White in a particularly introspective moment. The super-sedan accelerates up to cruising speed in a hurry and then just maintains momentum effortlessly. The handling is precise and the ride is refreshingly comfortable, courtesy of the extra-long wheelbase and gigantic wheels that have been set towards the very corners of the car.

2013 Fisker Karma EVer Review

The off-the-charts looks and on-road performance of the car alone make it one of the most interesting new vehicles of the past decade. But here’s the kicker: The Fisker Karma also happens to be a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) featuring two electric motors that drive the rear wheels and, in theory, it could run forever without needing to be refuelled.

The Karma has an estimated all-electric range of 80 km; statistics reveal that this is sufficient to propel the average person to and from work with room to spare. If you happen to be one of the unlucky souls whose commute is longer, the car features a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder gasoline engine that boosts the range by a further 400 km.

2013 Fisker Karma EVer ReviewThe Karma also has a solar panel glass roof, the largest ever for a production vehicle, which adds to the visual and environmental impact by providing an additional 322 km of range per year. As with other PHEVs, the Fisker can be recharged using a standard 110-volt outlet or a 240-volt home charging station.

There are two drive modes available. In sport mode, the electric motors and the gas engine are fully engaged, bringing genuine responsiveness to the driving experience. In stealth mode, only the motors are involved and, on the highway at some 130 km/h, the only sound is the wind…and even that’s been muted to a whisper.

When traveling at under 30 km/h, the Karma emits an almost metallic, space age murmur that seems as if it’s lifted directly from the next science fiction blockbuster; this sound is entirely artificial and has been created to warn pedestrians that an otherwise silent car is nearby.

The handling is precise and the ride is refreshingly comfortable, courtesy of the extra-long wheelbase and gigantic wheels that have been set towards the very corners of the car.

On the steering column is a pair of shift paddles. In every other car in the world, these would be used to shift gears—but the karma is unlike any other car in the world. The right paddle selects the braking force for the regenerative braking system, with three separate settings. The right paddle, meanwhile, selects stealth or sport mode. The transmission, as with other electric vehicles, is of a single fixed-gear type, so now shifting is required at all.

2013 Fisker Karma EVer ReviewAs stunning as the exterior design is, the cabin is equally impressive. The wood for the interior trim—three different types are available to choose from—has all been reclaimed from fires, lakes and fallen trees. The leather for the seats and other trim pieces—if that option package is selected—is sourced from the world’s first energy self-sufficient manufacturing plant. The other option, something called EcoSuede, is made from 100% recycled post-industry virgin polyester.

In other ultra high-end vehicles, the thought of having anything less than perfectly matched veneers or hides would be totally unacceptable. In the Fisker Karma, this is a point of pride.

The centre console screen features crisp graphics and a haptic feel. Similar to an iPhone, you can quickly and simply change screens to access the navigation system, phone, audio system or vehicle overview. A glass panel with real leaf insets is used to show the battery pack that runs along the centre on the car, set low to preserve the centre of gravity and the driving dynamics.

Despite all this automotive excellence—and there’s plenty of that going on here—there are a few minor missteps here and there. The steering wheel, for example, is too thick and doesn’t have indents for resting thumbs at the optimal 9-and-3 position. (Woe betide anyone still rocking the 10-and-2.)

2013 Fisker Karma EVer Review

The switches to operate the power mirrors and windows are too common for a car of this stature; they seem the result of a cost-saving measure. And as you select forward or reverse using the push-button crystal gear selector in the centre console, a red laser shoots across the aforementioned glass panel—it’s a little too Battlestar Galactica.

The Karma is quick but it’s no speed demon; it would, however, hold its own against all but the most extreme examples in this segment.

Still, the overall impact of the 2013 Fisker Karma is powerful—so powerful, it’s absolutely beyond the reach of the “run-of-the-mill” luxury sedan. Pricing for the car starts at $109,000 and this figure is an absolute bargain in relation to the competition.

2013 Fisker Karma EVer Review

Mark Hacking is an award-winning car, motorcycle and motorsports journalist whose work has appeared in Azure, enRoute, Intersection, NUVO and Toro, among many others. He is the former editor of Performance Racing News, the former managing editor of DRIVEN, and a member of both the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada and the Motor Press Guild of California. An avid racer, Mark is a three-time podium finisher at Targa Newfoundland and, this past season, raced in the VLN Series at the Nürburgring with the factory Aston Martin team. His motto in life: Drive fast, take chances.