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First drive video: 2012 Fisker Karma

Consumer Reports News: March 19, 2012 11:53 AM

With our new Fisker Karma back from its recent visit to the dealer, we were able to record a video to share our initial driving impressions of the car.

Like our recently tested Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, the Karma appeals at first sight with its audacity to be different. The interior abounds with thoughtful touches. When ordering the car, you can even select where the reclaimed wood trim comes from. Plus, what other car has woven suede covering the dashboard? With leather interiors becoming almost a commodity, it's rare to have one whose interior actually smells like the real thing--our Karma EcoSport's cabin does. (Other models get a synthetic material.) Even the digital clock in the instrument cluster has a designer's touch.

But the Karma aims to satisfy on a lot of different levels. It's trying to be stylish, luxurious, sporty, and environmentally friendly. (Not to be confused with "economical." At $107,850, Karma buyers don't need to pinch pennies at the pump like the rest of us.) Unfortunately the car's inherent design forces some compromises. The big backbone battery tunnel creates tight quarters inside, and the car's 5,395-pound heft impacts acceleration, agility, and fuel economy. I admit to wondering what it would have been like with a twin-turbo V6 or a nice V8, but that would remove part of the car's distinctiveness--and the ability to utilize government-backed loans for development.

Normally when we have a car like this at our test facility, it has no problem accumulating break-in miles. After all, big luxury sedans lend themselves to road trips. But the Fisker is languishing in our lot, going out mostly for short commutes that remain well within cell-phone coverage in case of trouble--a concern in the rural area surrounding our track. Just this weekend, for example, the speedometer and energy meter display disappeared when driving, on top of having several other rogue warning indicators appear last week. It is expected we'll be revisiting the dealership soon. We've had cars in the past that have been troublesome, but never anything like this.

Once the kinks are sorted out, we look forward to putting the Karma through our complete test program to see how well the car performs as a plug-in extended-range electric car, as well as eye-catching luxury transport.

Watch the video below for our first driving impressions.

Related:
Consumer Reports is not the only Fisker owner to experience bad Karma
It's back: Our Fisker Karma returns from the dealership with a new battery pack
Bad Karma: Our Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid breaks down
2012 Fisker Karma - A weekend full of Karma
Five questions with Henrik Fisker, father of the $100,000 Karma plug-in hybrid

Tom Mutchler

   

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