The insane supercar Fisker Karma by Doug DeMuro
In this video
this is a 2012 Fisker Karma and it’s one of the weirdest luxury sedans in the automotive world ever this was an environmentally friendly luxury sedan with a sticker price of over $100,000 when it debut and it came out at the same time as the Tesla Model S but while the Model S and Tesla succeeded the Karma and Fisker failed and these days you can pick up one of these for under $40,000 today I’m going to review this Karma to find out if you should I’ve borrowed this fisker karma from cnc motors which is an exotic car dealership here in southern california with an amazing inventory of everything from million-dollar supercars took weird old SUVs and trucks and this Fisker Karma they have an unbelievable showroom and you can check out their inventory by clicking the link in the description below so let’s talk Fisker Karma the Karma was the first totally new car to be made by Fisker Automotive which was based here in California the goal was to create an environmentally-friendly luxury sedan so under the hood you had a 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that was borrowed from General Motors and it was mated to two electric motors that combined for a total output of over 400 horsepower prices started around a hundred and three thousand dollars for a base model although the top level eco-chic trim level could top a hundred and twenty thousand dollars unfortunately the Karma wasn’t successful battery supply issues plagued the company and that combined with slow sales caused them to stop production after only a little over a year and a little more than 2,500 of these produced all of which were model year 2012 after the company went out of business used values on these tanked paths and these days it’s easy to find a used Fisker Karma for around $40,000 or less and today I’m going to review this Fisker Karma and I’m going to show you around one of the strangest sedans ever made first I’m gonna take you on a tour of this car and show you all of its interesting quirks and features then I’m gonna get it out on the road and drive it and then I’m going to give it a dug score all right I’m gonna start the crooks and features of the Fisker Karma with getting inside and that means starting with the key which is rather large take a look at this it like fills the entire palm of my hand unusually large for a key in order to unlock the car you press down on the silver Fisker logo in the middle and then the doors will unlock of course you can see the other two buttons on there on the top you have the lock button and on the bottom you have the trunk popper if you want access to trunk from your key a.m.
Next up let’s talk in door handles because I’ve always been a little confused by the ones in the car mode they’re just kind of holes in the side of the doors so how do they work well it turns out you stick your fingers in and then kind of curl up and there’s a little electronic popper on them you kind of push it and then the door pops open and you can climb inside and next up we move inside the Karma to all of the interesting crooks and features in here and there are many starting with the fact that the seat design is asymmetrical take a look at this you can see that part of the seat is a different material than the other part it doesn’t initially make sense until you realize that they’re trying to tie in the center console and the seats in one kind of fluid look not really sure if they succeed but it certainly sets a tone for the quirkiness we’re about to uncover one good example of that is the starter button take a look at the starter button looks fairly normal except printed on it or the letter is e V er which seems a little strange this isn’t called the ever it’s called the karma so what’s that about it turns out that stands for electric vehicle with extended range because this car has electric motors you can plug it in and a gasoline engine that’s how they kind of sold it and they were very proud of the fact that they came up with this term ever to describe this so there are badges that say that all throughout the car there’s one in the back you can see AV ER and again on the sides they also use this badging they must have thought they were really clever to print this other cryptic acronym all throughout the car and next up we move on to the center console there are some pretty standard things in here for one you have window switches look pretty normal nothing weird about that you also have a couple of cupholders again fairly normal but that’s pretty much where the normal ends the next interesting item is definitely the gear selector no lever no dial instead you have this like diamond thing that rises up from the center console and you can press each of these buttons to engage the different gears the weirdest part about this though is that when you press a button and the gear is engaged a beam of light shines like from this gear selector into the dashboard it is really strange but you can see each time I’m doing it you get that same beam of light I guess confirming that it accepted what you pressed and by the way the cool thing with those flashes when you choose a gear is that each gear flashes a little differently take a look you press D and it flashes kind of back to front in the direction that you will be driving which is kind of cool you press R and it’s the opposite flashes front to back since you’ll be backing up you press in for neutral and the whole thing just flashes once in unison I guess since you won’t be going anywhere and when you press P for Park the whole thing flashes twice to confirm that you’re in part so each different gear you can select has its own flash icon corresponding to whichever gear you’ve selected which is neat now maybe even stranger than that is the fact that the beam of light that lights up does so inside this glass panel and it doesn’t open instead this is supposed to be like trim that looks cool most of the time it’s not doing anything but it’s always there in a different take on interior trim and speaking of unusual glass interior trim same deal over on the door panel you can see there’s this little piece of glass trim on the panel again looks very odd not your usual style but that’s what they went with for this car and next to that glass trim on the door panel you can see there is a button marked open like I showed you on the outside this car has electronic door poppers so you push that and then the door is electronically popped open and then you can climb out no traditional door handle in this car now speaking of the doors another interesting item here in most cars the door sill has like the make or model name prominently displayed in pointing out in this car it’s facing in you can see it’s as karma and then below that proudly designed in California which actually brings us to another one of this cars unusual quirks it may have been designed in California but it wasn’t built there instead it was built in Finland in a city called who seek out punky I am not making this up you see how punky you can google it if you want to I think that bizarre name is perfectly fitting for the bizarreness of the Fisker Karma and next I’m moving along the interior another interesting item is the steering wheel which certainly has an unusual design to it you can see that some of the controls are kind of slanted over on the left and right spokes and on the bottom there’s like a cross with the spokes and whole thing just looks rather interesting very much fitting of this car now another notable item with the steering wheel is the fact that it has paddles where paddle shifters would be but this car doesn’t have a traditional transmission so instead these paddles control the different drive modes the standard drive mode in this car is called stealth but if you pull the left pedal that engages sport mode you can see it says sport and when you pull it it switches into sport mode now the paddle over on the right engages Hill driving mode you can turn on a hill mode in either stealth or sport and it will catch slow you down a little bit quicker it’s the equivalent in most vehicles of going into a low gear and it’s intended to be used in this car when you’re going down a hill and you might need more brake it pretty simple and next up speaking of the controls in this interior it’s a bit of a mixed bag between some rather unusual materials and buttons and surfaces and some very familiar ones for example General Motors provides the stalks the turn signal stalk you can see is straight out of a General Motors vehicle from this era and same deal with the wiper stock you spent a lot of time in GM cars will be very familiar with those and frankly those stocks are typically on vehicles that cost a lot less than this one and it’s the same deal with the mirror control over on the door that mirror control lifted right out of I think a General Motors vehicle as well but it’s some production line standard control not made specially for this car but then at the same time we get in rather weird controls for instance in the center control stanked is a big screen but you have three buttons above the screen on the left a door with a key obviously the locks in the middle the hazard lights of course on the right there’s like a hand so what does the hand button do I was thinking you press that when you want to pause the screen so you can clean it wipe it with your hand it turns out it actually opens the glove box that’s not a hand it’s a glove and when you press it the glove box releases immediately an interesting depiction of that for sure by the way two interesting items with the glove box one because it’s controlled with a button rather than a typical mechanical latch when the car is off you can’t open the glove box the electronics have to be on the car aspect working for the glove box to open so if you break down good luck accessing your owner’s manual to figure out what’s going on good design but once you do get into the glove box the owner’s manual is kind of an interesting thing since this car doesn’t exist anymore and you likely won’t encounter many of these you can see it looks nice in this nice leather pad and when you pull it out it looks like a fairly typical owner’s manual with the picture of the car on the front I think too weird here two interesting items early on in this owners manuals you open it up one is that they are constantly touting pure driving passion I guess that was Fiskars slogan at the time but it seems kind of odd considering this is a full-size automatic transmission plug-in luxury sedan not exactly the kind of car you would think pure driving passion and in the same vein of words in the owners manual that didn’t really work out in the introduction it clearly says we look forward to serving you in the years ahead oops needless to say they did not actually get to serve you in the years ahead and next up we move on to the gauge cluster which has a few interesting quirks of its own in the middle you have your range and it shows separately your battery range and your total range so total is always going to be higher because it’s the gas powertrain and the electric powertrain but you can also just see your PV powertrain only if you want now over on the left you have your speedometer are nothing particularly interesting or unusual here over on the right instead of a tachometer you have a display that shows several different items you have your battery capacity you have your current fuel level and there’s also a gauge that shows whether you’re accelerating or whether you’re generating using the energy from braking to generate more electricity and more range for the car so that’s sort of the electric car version of a tachometer and next up we move on to the infotainment system this big screen in the center of this entire interior which is both unusual and outdated and I’ll give you some examples of both of those things for one we have the climate control display in this screen which is kind of odd it’s this circle you can see the temperatures or around it now to adjust you’re supposed to move these little sliders to higher or lower temperatures but as you can see it’s very slow to respond it’s a good idea but if you want to go from heat to cool this is like a 20 30 second process just tapping this thing and physical buttons would definitely be better especially when it’s this slow next time moving on to the music tab of this infotainment system I really like the radio adjustment you can see you move this a little dot along this line of radio waves to adjust for exactly what station you’re listening to I think that is a really cool way to do it less cool however is the volume control which unfortunately is this little piece you cap in the lower left tap tap-tap for more and less volume it should always be a dial that is always the easiest best smartest solution and complicating that is always a mistake but unfortunately that’s what they’ve done here now the good news is the driver has access to a separate volume control on the steering wheel which always makes things easier but if you’re the passenger you have to be tapping the screen to change the stereo volume not great and next up we move on to the navigation tab in the infotainment system I have to say this is quite bad for one thing the map is unbelievably slow to respond you get out of a modern car and into this and you’re just gonna be shocked at how far we’ve come in only a few years I can’t believe how slow and ridiculously laggy this system is it’s crazy especially because this was probably the pinnacle of tech back in 2012 another thing is that the navigation system controls just aren’t intuitive at all for instance I go to enter an address and it tells me to enter an address within California where I’m located of course but what if I’m going somewhere outside California I spent several minutes with this thing and I couldn’t figure out how to simply change the state which could be a problem if you live in the Northeast where states are very close together and you’re frequently going out of state for trips not the best system and another good example of that comes on the settings menu where you can see some items you might want to select are below your current selection so you tap the down arrow but nothing happens instead you have to tap the up arrow to bring this whole thing upwards I guess very unintuitive again a very strange way to do it this infotainment system not really the best by modern standards but then again this car being almost ten years old you wouldn’t expect it to be and next we move on to the backseat of the karma which is atrocious really really tight back here I have the driver seat position where I would said and I’m not exaggerating or making this up I can’t fit in the backseat of this car I can’t get my legs in place while the driver’s seat is in a fairly normal seating position there is an almost unbelievably poor use of space in this car especially when you consider that it’s a hundred and ninety six inches long this is the same length as a lot of full-size SUVs and yet this is the backseat situation in here and it’s not just legroom Headroom is also terrible when I try to sit up this is how it ends up happening I’m probably four inches short this really should have been a coupe because it feels like one back here with that said there are a few interesting quirks and features in the back worth noting starting with more glass trim again it’s in the center and you can see there’s just this piece of glass that you can see through to a lower piece of trim it’s an odd decision but I will say I do kind of like the outside the box thinking you have the same thing on the door panel another piece of glass trim that reminds you this is very much not your typical car and also next to that piece of glass again in the back you have the button marked open you push that the doors electronically pop open you can get out now beyond all that the karna has only four seats two in front and two rather cramped ones in back and in the middle there is a large center console with a few interesting controls to start you have window controls in the center nothing unusual there but next to that you have heated rear seats which was a pretty big deal back in 2012 beyond those items in this large center console you have a couple of cupholders back here for your drinks of course and then in between the two seats in the middle you have a pair of outlets so that each passenger gets their own charge port back here I think that the reason the center tunnel is so high is because there’s a lot of Eevee stuff in here batteries that sort of thing and so they had to do this and that’s why we don’t get a third seat and next up we move outside the car mall but I’m going to explain everything in here because I’m stuck no actually because it’s unusually loud outside and it’s quieter in here I’m going to start with the trunk you open it up and you can see it’s really tiny really really tiny again a terrible use of space in this vehicle there’s no room for anything no passengers no cargo very odd now one interesting item on the outside near the back of this car there are two fuel doors when you walk around you can see one on the left and then there’s another one over on the right same size same placement sitting and are there two fuel tanks of course the answer is no one of them is a fuel door you pop it open you can unscrew the cap and put in fuel the other one is for charging this is a plug-in hybrid so you plug in the battery component and then when it runs out of battery it will use the gas engine as a backup and next up one of this cars most striking features at least from the outside is the roof because it has solar panels the whole roof in fact is purely solar this is a really cool look but it’s also functional the Solar is actually gathering energy from the Sun and it uses it to power this car’s accessories it doesn’t power anything with the actual driving but some of the accessories are powered by that roof and so that’s why it’s there pretty cool and next up something I’ve always found rather interesting about the Karma is the placement of the exhausts for the gasoline engine because it’s right behind the front wheel and underneath the front window so if you have your window down you can get some nice exhaust fumes right in the cabin because the exhaust is right down there it’s such a strange place to put it but that’s what they’ve done now since I’ve pointed that out you might be wondering okay well if those are the exhaust then what are these exhaust looking things in the back then and the answer is they’re not exhaust instead you look at them and you can see printed on them is Hybrid H Z that’s supposed to be like hybrid Hertz as in sound Hertz that’s a sound system on the outside of the car you see when this car was being developed there is talk of making electric cars play a sound when they drive around because otherwise they’re silent you might want to have them alert pedestrian somehow and to this day some brand new electric cars still do play a sound as they move and that was where this cars sound came from and of course if you’re curious this is what it sounds like and next we move on to undoubtedly this cars biggest talking point and that would be the styling a lot of people love how this car looks when it came out in 2012 most people thought this car was super futuristic very exciting interesting cool special everything many many people really loved it personally I always thought it looked really weird I think it’s way too long the front end is too long you have these bulbous front fenders I always thought it was a weird design but a lot of people really loved it and I must admit it is striking this certainly looks like nothing else on the road and if you want to make a statement you can do that in one of these a lot easier than in a Model S which looks very generic by comparison now on the subject of the styling for this car it’s worth noting that it was designed by a man named Henrik Fisker who also of course gave his last name to the company itself now he was responsible for designing some modern icons the BMW z8 a lot of modern aston martin models and then he struck out on his own and created the Fisker Karma and finally we move up to the front I’m gonna start with the hood which is actually front hinged I didn’t know that until today but it comes up from the front and you can see the engine again this is the General Motors turbocharged four-cylinder it was the same engine that was used in like the Saturn Sky redline the Pontiac Solstice GXP and a few others here they’ve renamed it as the Q Drive 2-liter turbo they don’t want any association with General Motors but that is the powertrain same basic thing except this car has electric motors as well one other item I liked also up front is the turn signal I just love how this looks it almost looks like a machine gun up here in front a very distinctive look a very cool nice lighting design from this car and so those are the quirks and features of the Fisker Karma now it’s time to get it out on the road and see how it drives alright driving the Fisker Karma I’ve never driven one of these before now before I get into the driving Sprint’s I do want to say these have come back on the market as new cars there is a company Pfister declared bankruptcy and a Chinese company I guess bought the tooling and all of the designs the rights and they’ve brought this car back it’s now called the karma Rivero so karma goes from being the model name to the brand name and Rivero is the model name and they’re now making them in California and the engine is the same and I haven’t been in a new one yet but it is now possible again to buy one of these new hopefully the technology has been improved now I’ve always been interested in this car like I mentioned I never have really thought that the styling was all that great but it certainly is eye-catching bold striking I considered buying one of these to make youtube videos with for a long time and eventually decided against it obviously but it’s a pretty interesting car and the idea of it was a good one I mean they were gonna they were gonna compete with Tesla but instead of like going Tech they were gonna go beauty and luxury and so the interior is much nicer in here than in a Model S and the styling was much more eye grabbing and the theory was different right it was a plug-in hybrid so it had a gasoline backup engine and so you know it could come back your range anxiety if that’s what you wanted and so it was kind of an interesting idea but it just didn’t quite take off it was kind of in the takeoff stage they spent an enormous amount of money getting to this point the US government gave them loans but it just didn’t work out battery supply issues there were fires there were sales were slow the car was too expensive and it just didn’t quite work out on the road it actually feels pretty nice reasonably comfortable reasonably luxurious it’s no s-class but it may be an s-class from 2012 it’s not that far off of that the internment materials are actually pretty nice a lot of leather a lot of stitching there’s some real wood in here untreated which is nice and acceleration is pretty good reasonably quick but not amazingly so it’s relatively fast but it was a four-cylinder and even with the electric motors it wasn’t really enough to make it feel fast especially if you’ve driven any modern electric cars this thing is very much behind the curve in terms of ludicrous mode cars I think the main attraction today for people who want this car is primarily that it looks interesting striking cool looks like nothing else that anybody has around you that’s a really big deal for the people who buy it they really think it’s like it’s cool look and and also the fact that it’s cheap I mean this one is kind of in the low 40s pretty nice example it has very low mileage under 6000 miles but higher mileage one’s high 30s is pretty reasonable it’s about what you can expect that is an appealing number considering what this car cost new and how I catching it is in bold and if all your friends have boring other cars you know 40 grand Avalon’s whatever you couldn’t really turn people’s heads if you have one of these that one issue I would assume is battery service saying you know reliability that sort of thing but every time I talk to someone who has one of these were who’s been around one of these they said it’s not really a problem yet they haven’t had battery issues that haven’t run into any serious issues and stuff that that they have had issues with has been fixable I imagine you two have trouble of specific trim pieces or Technology pieces or body panels broke got damaged whatever but in terms of actual powertrain I haven’t heard of many issues I suspect however that they’re coming this car is now almost 10 years old and when this car is 20 years old I think it’s gonna be kind of an albatross nobody’s really gonna want to be around it for fear of not being able to replace parts and so that’s the 2012 Fisker Karma this is a very interesting vehicle a striking-looking sedan with a lot of unusual design touches and interesting ideas and I wonder if it could have been successful with more early investment or better battery supply maybe we’ll find out with the new karma Rivera anyway with that now it’s time to give the fisker karma a dug score and the dug score is forty eight out of 100 which is just not really very good it places the karma here against other luxury sedans from this era and electric vehicles and as you can see the car mat never gets better than a six in any one category it also gets some unusually low scores like a four for practicality which is the lowest score I’ve ever given to a four-door car but this barely qualifies as a four-door car at least in terms of rear seat room and trunk space acceleration is mediocre 0 to 60 and just under six seconds despite the pure driving passion slogan and quality is also relatively low far behind other luxury sedans not because I think the interior is bad I don’t actually but because I worry about support and repairs down the line the truth is the fisker karma is head-turning and relatively cheap and that is why you’d buy one and frankly if you’re getting one for those reasons I get it otherwise there are far better options [Music]
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