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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had my test drive today in Austin, and I really enjoyed it! I had so much video footage that I had to break it up into 2 separate YouTube videos (I'll post the links after this). I apologize in advance for the camera angle while in the car. I used a suction cup mount and stuck it to the center console in the back seat which was a tad lower than I'd have liked. At least it's not shaky-cam :)


Here are some of my thoughts on the car:

• As everyone has said, the Karma looks even better in person than in the photos. It was really stunning to see up close, and the build quality was actually better than I had expected. It is a very solid feeling car. The interior quality too was beyond what I had expected. It has always been hard to tell from photos what it's really like, but I can say that it was really exquisite. My only beef was the use of transparent plastics in various places. Those should have been glass because lucite scratches really easily, and I know that's not going to fare well over the years.

• The styrofoam block behind the grille was definitely noticeable, and I'm still confused why they didn't coat it with something to hide the obvious fact that it's a black block of styrofoam, but I don't think anyone will pay attention unless you point it out. Henrik must have been out of town the day that part got ordered.

• I was first to drive, so the battery was about 2/3rds full. Therefore, the generator noise wasn't too bad. Actually, it only got loud when I floored it, and even then, the RPM's more or less matched what I was doing with the throttle, so it didn't seem too bizarre. There were three basic sounds with the generator: 1) the turbo spooling which was actually a really cool sound!, 2) the engine rumble, and 3) the sound of air being blown out the exhaust at my feet. The only annoying part was #3. The hairdryer sound didn't seem right, but the rest didn't bother me. Hard to say if I'd feel that way at the end of the day when the generator was running harder and longer, and the Fisker reps kept saying that the production cars would have the new mufflers. So, I guess that goes against earlier reports that these cars already had the new mufflers, or there's a newer new muffler going on the production cars. Very confusing… not sure who or what to believe on this.

• The ride was very nice, but honestly, there was nothing "sporty" feeling about the car (this is coming from a guy who's always owned sports cars). It feels like a heavy sedan, but that's okay, because that's exactly what it is despite its looks. The Karma's sexy looks can often mislead you to expect a sports car, but it just isn't. The car does feel big and heavy, but not in a bad way - it's very controlled and solid - it felt like a tank… in a good way. Comparing this car to the Panamera or Rapide like so many do really isn't fair because those cars are true sports sedans. I'd have a hard time calling the Karma a sports anything. It may look the part, but it doesn't feel the part. Once again, however, that's not a bad thing. It's still a great ride, but it would be better to compare it to a Cadillac.

• One thing about the ride that really surprised me was just how smooth it was. I expected a bumpy stiff (sporty) ride, but it wasn't. It was so smooth that it was hard to feel the road at all. That combined with the quiet acceleration made it a very unique experience. I'd almost prefer a little more bump in the ride just so that I could feel the road more. There's like zero room between the tires and the wheel well, so I have no idea how the ride was so smooth. The gigantic wheels perhaps? On the same topic, the steering was surprisingly easy. I expected it to have a little sporty stiffness to it, but it was so easy to turn that car that you couldn't even feel it. I do kinda wish it had stiffer steering or at least steering that transmitted some of the road to the driver.

• The only major problem I had was with the Infotainment system. I was wearing polarized sunglasses, and that made it very hard to see anything on that LCD screen. Also, that screen is so big that the glare was quite a bit of a problem. It was *very* hard to use that thing because of those visibility issues - I had to take my sunglasses off every time that I wanted to play with it or tilt my head to the left to make the polarity line up, but even then I was hit with the glare reflection.

• Aside from not being able to see the Infotainment system, it was actually pretty cool. I really liked the haptic feedback. The actual UI was pretty confusing and laggy, but I'm sure that's just a matter of getting used to it. The GPS in the demo cars was apparently not the real GPS system. The production cars will have something different, so I didn't bother looking at the one that was in there.

• I'm 5' 7" and the back seat was very comfortable for me. Not exactly roomy like an SUV or anything, but very adequate for a car like this. The trunk space was larger than I was expecting after all the talk about it… much bigger than the boot on my Vantage or old SC430. Besides, there's lots of room in the back seats for more stuff if it won't fit it the trunk.

• The stereo sounded great! It's hard to tell much in the video, but he had it cranked and it sounded better than anything in any of my other cars.

• Speaking of sound, I never really heard the "Tron" sound. I kept asking about it, and everyone seemed confused by the question. Most of the time they thought I was referring to the turbo whine or something. I didn't hear the Tron sound while driving it, nor could I hear it when others drove off. Not sure what the story there is.

• Contrary to earlier reports, the mirrors *do* fold.

• Yes the dash does switch to black for night mode. I had the Fisker guy cover the sensor so I could see it, and I got the switchover on the video in Part 2.

• The charging station is $795, so the rest of that $2300 price (or whatever it was) was sort of a quasi-estimate on installation. Seems a bit steep for installation, but whatever. After tax credits the charger costs almost nothing anyways.

• At the end of the day, is this a car that's worth $110,000? Yes! The looks alone are that of a $200k car, and if it had the performance of a $200k car that's what I'd pay for it. So, when you combine $200k looks with $60k performance, I think $110k is a perfectly reasonable price. I can't wait for mine to arrive!

-Brian
[hr]
Part 1 of the video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=haqlE45Ln9c


Part 2:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsCXBUz6uzs



-Brian
 

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That was the best test drive video yet. My impression was about the same also. It's more of a sporty touring sedan rather than a sports car. I would say the handling is kind of like the S550 in sport mode. At 5'11'' I did have some issue with the head room in the back seat so I'm just going to ride up front. I know the console looks like lucite but that is actually Ecolucent Transparent Laminate. I am sure there is a huge difference. Thanks for the great review.
 

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This is a great review Brian - much appreciated. As you point out (and others did) the Karma is not really a sports car. My question is how do you think it compares with "sporty" cars rather than true performance cars (I suppose it would be hard to beat the Aston Martin Vantage). For instance, how do you think it compares with the plain BMW 335, Audi S5, E550, G37 and such... I test drove the Maserati GT-S and the Panamera 4S the same day, the Panamera was so much better it was not even funny - but I loved the GT-S looks... both better than my 335, but the Maser only by a narrow margin. Do you think it is going to be the same with Fisker? I love the looks but I would like a little sportiness too... I still have to wait at least few weeks until my dealer gets the car, Minnesota does not seem to be on a priority list....
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
svp6 said:
This is a great review Brian - much appreciated. As you point out (and others did) the Karma is not really a sports car. My question is how do you think it compares with "sporty" cars rather than true performance cars (I suppose it would be hard to beat the Aston Martin Vantage). For instance, how do you think it compares with the plain BMW 335, Audi S5, E550, G37 and such... I test drove the Maserati GT-S and the Panamera 4S the same day, the Panamera was so much better it was not even funny - but I loved the GT-S looks... both better than my 335, but the Maser only by a narrow margin. Do you think it is going to be the same with Fisker? I love the looks but I would like a little sportiness too... I still have to wait at least few weeks until my dealer gets the car, Minnesota does not seem to be on a priority list....
I really can't compare it to most of those cars because I'm not really a sedan guy. I've never owned a sedan in my entire life. All of my cars have been sports cars or SUV's, but I'll say that my Lexus GX470 SUV actually feels faster than the Karma even tho the 0-60 times are theoretically the same (in Stealth mode). It's amazing how much of the sensation of acceleration and speed in a gas car comes from the sounds and the kick of the gear changes. Electric cars which have none of that just don't "feel" as fast even tho they are. I had the same thing happen when I test drove a Tesla last year. It was fast, but it just didn't "feel" fast.

-Brian
 

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Excellent video - do you have any footage of the mirrors folding? Does it happen automatically when the doors lock?

I'm hoping there is a new muffler coming - Kyle keeps referring to the magazine reviewers from February.... The roadshow cars according to the head of Fisker Customer Support DO have the new mufflers... So either he or **** have incorrect info....

Last comment - they hopefully will have night test drives.... Wonder what the car looks/feels like when it's all lit up at night!
 

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brian said:
I had the same thing happen when I test drove a Tesla last year. It was fast, but it just didn't "feel" fast.
Maybe you temporarily blacked out from the .8 g's it was subjecting you to, so you don't remember.
 

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Very nice review, Brian. Thanks for sharing that.

About the Tron-sound, I can hear it in the first video at 2:35 when you stop at a traffic light or stop sign. Even inside you can hear this low synthesizer hum, which must be louder on the outside.

But in video 2 I don't hear it, just faintly once. I wonder if it possible to turn the warning sound off and on, so that it doesn't just work automatically.[hr]
teslaowner said:
Maybe you temporarily blacked out from the .8 g's it was subjecting you to, so you don't remember.
Nice to have a Tesla-owner on this forum. Tesla and Fisker are competitors and had their fight in court, but I'd love to think of them as being on the same team. And for Tesla- and Fisker-drivers as well.

Are you planning on switching to a Tesla Model S?
 

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Dutch said:
Nice to have a Tesla-owner on this forum. Tesla and Fisker are competitors and had their fight in court, but I'd love to think of them as being on the same team. And for Tesla- and Fisker-drivers as well.

Are you planning on switching to a Tesla Model S?
Thanks - and I agree that supporting all EVs is a good thing. I always wave at Leafs and Volts I see on the road, but haven't gotten a wave back - maybe they don't realize I'm "one of them." I know someone who has a September production date, so we'll probably get together when he gets his Karma. I would love to wave at some Fiskers!

My original plan was, as you put it, to switch to a Model S, but I love the Roadster so much that we're leaning towards having both in our garage. I knew the Roadster was going to be fast and fun, but I didn't realize what a great commuter car it was until I had one: no shifting, regen braking on accelerator pedal lift-off, and, of course, CA carpool lane stickers. But, I've got at least a year before I need to make that decision.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
SoCalGuy said:
Excellent video - do you have any footage of the mirrors folding? Does it happen automatically when the doors lock?

I'm hoping there is a new muffler coming - Kyle keeps referring to the magazine reviewers from February.... The roadshow cars according to the head of Fisker Customer Support DO have the new mufflers... So either he or **** have incorrect info....

Last comment - they hopefully will have night test drives.... Wonder what the car looks/feels like when it's all lit up at night!
Yeah, a straight answer on the muffler situation would be nice, but I don't think we're going to get one. After having time to think about my test drive I realize that if the engine made that noise full-time when the battery goes dead it could drive me crazy. It wasn't bad in short bursts, but if it was constant on a 20 minute drive I'd not be happy.

As for the mirrors, yes, they do fold automatically when you lock the car. There is a setting to turn that on/off in the Infotainment system. There is also a button in the Infotainment system that you can press to manually fold them.

-Brian
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
They also gave us a swag bag with some Fisker goodies:




Not sure if I should keep them as collectibles or have fun with 'em.

-Brian
 

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brian said:
They also gave us a swag bag with some Fisker goodies:
Not sure if I should keep them as collectibles or have fun with 'em.
The swag may have come from the dealer, not from Fisker. I have not heard of anyone being offered a gift bag.

-- Fab.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
As far as I know these goodies were from Fisker. It consists of:

1. The Fisker bag
2. The Fisker water bottle
3. The Fisker pen
4. The Fisker hat
5. The Fisker note pad... at least that's what it appears to be. I haven't taken it out of the shrink wrap.

The hat is the coolest part because it's not just some stock hat with the Fisker logo on it. The hat has the solar panel texture on it. Very cool!



-Brian
 

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Pretty cool, but I think they went just a tad too far by emblazoning "Pure Driving Passion" on the edge of the bill.

Did they just start handing this stuff out in Austin or have we just not heard about it? And are they handing the stuff out in other cities too? If only folks at a single dealership got them, I would tend to think that the dealer paid for them or even had them made rather than Fisker corporate.

-- Fab.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Well, they had bags prepacked for everyone in the main showroom. I imagine quite a few people left w/o getting theirs because I didn't know about it until one of the salesmen told me that he had something for me before I left. Had he not said that I would have simply left w/o it.

Now what I really need is a Fisker t-shirt.

-Brian
 

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brian said:
Now what I really need is a Fisker t-shirt.
For what we are paying for these cars, we should get a Fisker Armani Suit or at least a pair of Serengeti glasses. :rolleyes:

I don't remember any gift bags at the dealership where I did my test drive.

-- Fab.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Hahaha! Yeah, well I had to go buy my Karma Matchbox cars on eBay. I guess only certain people got those for free.

-Brian
 

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I rec'd the Fisker Water Bottle (such as it is), but that was it at the Denver dealer. The Serengeti sunglasses were heavily promoted on the rig carrying the cars, but the closest I came to getting a pair was squinting a lot for the Fisker rep, who never quite caught my true meaning...
 
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