By on May 21, 2012

Henry Ford was no gifted artist, yet he made a car worthy of the common man.  William Durant didn’t especially like cars, but created a marketing and distribution empire that inspired us all.  And while Henrik Fisker’s car-centric life isn’t fully wikipedia’d, the first creation of the company that bears his name is an object of wonder and inspiration.  The Fisker Karma, like every concept from any auto show, is a dream car: flaws and compromises intact.


While I spilled the beans on the Karma’s Vellum, I never discussed the interior.  So let’s fix that.  The Karma’s guts are another exercise in concept car Shock and Awe.  While autojournos occasionally sit in million dollar concept cars, most folks do not.  Safe to say that if you, mere mortal, sit behind the tiller of a Fisker Karma, you’ve experienced the Concept Car in all its glory. Especially in the avant-garde EcoChic trim level, which is a good and bad thing.



Instead of mass-produced, the Karma goes cottage industry, Aston Martin Lagonda style. Plastic door panels at your knees?  Maybe, but they’re swathed in sheets of “EcoSuede”. Most touchpoints are wrapped in padded fabric reminiscent of Ricardo Tubbs’ designer threads.  And while there’s a touch of wood trim (eco-farmed from the bottom of a lake, no less), the obvious places for timber have iPhone worthy glass.  And brushed aluminum, including the electric door releases.  Aside from the EcoChic’s cornball leaf-etching in the glass, this tri-tone environment is an interior designer’s wet dream.

And the ICE in the center stack looks unfinished/overtly minimal like a proper concept car, but is intuitive and beautiful…once it finishes booting up. Even worse, the large Karma is shockingly small inside.  But since it isn’t thin and harsh like a (similarly exotic) Aston Martin Rapide, it’s more like the first time you sat in a bean bag chair. If you’re significantly wider than Justin Bieber, you might disagree. But less is still more.

Except when you get the Karma moving. That’s when 5300lbs of sedan feels just about right.  Aside from the frequent thuds and bumps from the 22” wheels, this is a proper luxury car with a ride that puts everyone else to shame using the Laws of Physics. You can’t hustle the Karma like a normal car, because this is a (compromised?) hybrid concept car come to life.

But the steering is remarkably lively, hybrid or otherwise. Handling is flat if you keep those steering inputs slow and stately.  Combined with the obligatory torque of an electric motor and the interior ambiance of a C4 Corvette (complete with ample view of that stunning hood), you’re piloting a proper space ship.

The driving experience of a monstrous hybrid sedan with a disturbingly low center of gravity is just as unique as the concept car styling. Touchy-feely thoughts aside, the performance numbers won’t impress: a garden variety 7-series will run circles around this monster. At least the GM Ecotec power generator is quiet and “sport” mode is entertaining…if not especially exciting.  I’d like to think the fuel economy is better than most luxury sedans, but that’s not the point.

The Karma is an experience. It’s immensely rewarding in every way. 

And Two and A Half Men product placement aside, this won’t be someone’s only vehicle.  At $116,000 for the top line EcoChic trim, it doesn’t take a White Whine fan to realize you’ll get more car for less money elsewhere. But can you put a price on owning a concept car? And drive it to work, enjoying every moment?

Bragging rights intact, every jerk off in a Benz, Panamera, Bentley, Phantom, etc. are cast off as “untouchable” when this bit of Hindu mysticism is in the joint. Inappropriate Caste System references FTW, son!

And while the current reality of the H-Town McMansion burning Karma adds irony to said Hindu concept, I did fall in love with this dream machine. And now I wonder if my tester was the responsible party…wait, could my personal/spiritual karma be responsible for the Karma’s McMansion maiming?

No matter: if the Pinto survived the explody-problem and thrived in a (somewhat) competitive market for years, why not cut Fisker a break?  Unless it burned down your crib, too. So let’s go back to the money, honey. Everyone’s all about Fisker’s long-term financial prospects: tragic, but a fair point.

My point? Screw it: the intended buyer has tons of disposable income and the Karma is a stunning piece of machinery. It, like true love, is filled with beauty, bliss and effortless good times. Also like true love, there’s sadness, tragedy, and nothing more than unfounded hope for a better future with the one you adore.  This is the passion of owning a sedan that will be the last vehicle mistaken for an appliance. A sedan amongst the most exotic vehicles, no less!

And with that, thank goodness for concept cars becoming a reality. Enjoy it while you can.






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41 Comments on “Review: 2012 Fisker Karma EcoChic...”

  • avatar

    Nice Review, car looks absolutely amazing. Now what is the Karma like. Its just that this review is, um, short.. Especially for a car that would put a Phantom AND a Mulsanne to shame.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m old school…TTAC used to be about 800-ish word reviews.

    • 0 avatar

      This car LOOKS fantastic, but, every single compromise made for the sake of it being an Electric car has caused it to be a TERRIBLE choice.

      If they’d just drop a Twin Turbo V6 in there (like the Taurus SHO), you’d have a lighter car that’s twice (maybe even thrice) as fast.

      I drove this car over a weekend and you’ve got to really fiddle with the transmission modes to keep it moving at brisk speeds. I HATED the interior space and the gauges are terribly designed. Everything is grayscale and looks cheap/oldschool.


      I’d save $25,000 and take a Jaguar XJ.

      The only thing saving this car from being a total failure are it’s looks and the fact that it’s rear-heavy which gives you a totally different driving sensation when you try to whip it around. I’m used to having ridiculous HP in the rear and a front-heavy feel.

      My only question: How many more buildings will these things have to burn down before people give up on EV’s?

  • avatar

    I live right down the street from a Jaguar/Fisker dealership hybrid… Weird I know. Anyway I drive by these every day so the magic is kind of gone. Though I’d love to sit in one at least once.

    • 0 avatar

      Excellent and articulate review, Sajeev. I got a chance to sit in one: front seat fine, back seat claustrophobic– felt like I was in a coffin. That tall center console in back (under which lies the battery pack) just encroached a bit too much. Yes, this car is beautiful, but its performance number are going to have to evolve to get 0-60 mph runs in better than 6 sec; at least 0.88 on a skid pad; and stop from 60 mph to zero in less than 120 feet. But those targets should be doable with some time and effort.

      • 0 avatar

        Why are those particular numbers so important? I think it is more important that it feel good and provide a sense of occasion. Reality is it will never have the power to wieght ratio to be particularly fast, unless there is a mega-breakthrough in battery tech.

  • avatar

    Perhaps it’s been too long since I sat in a C4, but I remember 1980s Corvettes as roomier than the Karma. Sitting in the Fisker gave me C3 flashbacks!

  • avatar

    Saw one just like this on the way to work last week. It does have a presence about it and you can’t miss it.

  • avatar

    FInally, an article that points out the positives without a bunch of caveats thrown in. The Karma and Volt are great first round products. Round two will only bring bigger and better. Apple didn’t invent the digital music player, after all.

  • avatar

    Not much said about the driving experience of the car.

    It’s got a pretty profile.

  • avatar

    I hope theres still a manual override for the door release inside the car somewhere. I don’t think people will like hopping out the trunk or banging on the windows for help. Well unless their looking for a Bricklin experiance.

  • avatar

    Erm…”the first creation of the company that bears his name”…
    Well, there’s Fisker Tramonto and Fisker Latigo CS, made by Fisker Coachbuild.

  • avatar

    I’m just not a fan of the design to be honest (and the cheesy greenwashing stuff), I’ll gladly sacrifice a few curves to keep the car from overheating.

  • avatar

    What is the mileage?

  • avatar

    I just want to run my hands over those seats. It’s been a long time since new cars had *nice* cloth upholstery. I hope it trickles down to lesser rides. My 1986 Acura Legend has amazing fabric. A friend called it moleskin and the name stuck. I wore the nap off the handbrake boot.

  • avatar

    Nope – still just a vain effort to produce something to wow and stand out from the crowd, but instead falls flat on its face … it’s silly bifercated grille face.

  • avatar

    It’s just not effing practical at all. The obesity epidemic is so bad it’s infected high end cars! Call the Centers for Disease Control. Seriously, it’s a very interesting piece of styling, A for the concept, but B- for the execution, but as a sporty car, C- for execution, maybe even D (why is the damn thing 5,300 pounds? Where were the brains? On vacation?).

  • avatar

    I’ve been seeing a lot of Karmas lately, especially in the Newport Beach area. Even saw one on the freeway with 4 people in it. The car’s absolutely stunning in person.

    As strange as it sounds, I think it’s a fantastic value. It’s in the same price range as a well-equipped luxo-barge like an S550 (or a single Tesla roadster) but it stands out from the crowd and seats four.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    Sajeev I was curious about the H-town McMansion burning incident you refer to. Was this in my hometown of Houston (though I prefer the old school nickname of the ” Bayou City ” ) ? I never heard of this but it sounds interesting , even a positive thing in a town with badly built , cardboard stucco McMansions in such abundance . In my travels in the Houston area I’ve seen exactly one Fisker , in refrigerator white . Wanted to get closer to it but lost it in traffic . And I agree with some of the above comments , it looks much nicer – striking really – in person .

  • avatar

    Wow, TTAC has something *GOOD* to say about the Karma? And this directly after Baruth says something nice about the Panamera! WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE AND WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH OUR TTAC WRITERS!

  • avatar

    Government subsidies aside, I really do like the look of the Karma, both outside and inside.
    However, although I know it’s far more technologically sophisticated, deep down I can’t stop my inner troll from laughing about the fact that “it’s got the same engine as a Chevy Cobalt SS! LOLZ.”

  • avatar

    Interesting review… in that it reveals that the Karma isn’t as sporty as its looks suggest… but goes on to say it doesn’t really matter.

    Along with the “Unimportance of Speed” article… dear lord… are we going soft?

    But I quite agree… there’s more to luxury cars than neck-snapping numbers. Last I rode a Land Rover, I was irked by how stiff the suspension was… simply to give it that little bit of cornering ability that luxury SUVs HAVE to HAVE in order to keep up with the X’s.

    Absolute bull. I buy a barge, I expect it to float like a barge. Not bang about like a tank.

  • avatar
    Greg Locock

    I gave up reading this review three sentences in. LJK Setright wrote in a similar fashion, but I think he occasionally had a point, and rather more rarely some understanding of what was going on. His writing style was execrable, albeit widely lauded by the ill-read and un-tutored.

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