Fisker Karma

Date:31 March 2009 Tags:

Plug in, burn rubber

Hybrids don’t have to be totally sensible. Case in point: the Fisker Karma. There wouldn’t be any point to the bad-boy looks without the availability of some serious under-bonnet attitude modifier.

Fisker Automotive says its mission is to create no-compromise, beautiful, environmentally friendly cars. We rather like the bit before that, where Fisker describes itself as a premium sports car company.

So in the Karma we have a luxurious R900 000 four-door GT with a heart of green. Thanks to its Q-Drive plug-in hybrid technology, a fully charged Karma will burn no fuel for up to 80 km. After that, a petrol engine turns a generator to charge the lithium ion battery. Effective fuel consumption is said to be 100 miles per gallon (about 2,3 litres/100 km).

In case you think its green credentials are limited to its drivetrain, get this: its wood trim is sourced from timber that has not been logged in the traditional way. The trees used are fallen, rescued or sunken (in lakes). High-tech controls include a touchsensitive screen embedded in the layered glass centre console, controlling air-con, audio and vehicle systems.

Finishes are designed with sustainability in mind, minimising impact on animals. This reaches its peak in the EcoChic trim level, which is based on an animal-free approach and includes soft-touch bamboo viscose instead of leather.

How it works. Two 150 kW electric motors are powered by a lithium-ion battery pack. A turbocharged 2,0-litre Ecotec direct injection petrol engine drives the generator to extend the car’s range.

Q-Drive has two operating mode, Stealth and Sport. In electric-only Stealth Mode, drivers can travel emission-free for up to 80 km on a full charge from any 110-, 220- or 240-volt electric outlet. That can be extended to as much as 480 km in Sport Mode, using the petrol-engine-driven generator. Top speed is quoted as just 200 km/h, but acceleration is impressive: 0 to 100 km/h in 5,8 seconds.

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