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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Fisker Karma S- A Ferrari California for a third of the price!

The luxury sports hybrid drops its top and sheds two doors.

Although sales of the first 2010 Fisker Karma plug-in hybrids won't start until the fourth quarter of 2009, the company is wasting little time exploring potential derivatives of the luxury sports sedan, the first of which is a two-door folding-hardtop concept. Called the Karma S—S for Sunset—and debuting at the 2009 North American International Auto Show alongside the production-ready Karma four-door, the new four-seat convertible is a natural accompaniment for the sedan in Fisker’s environmentally friendly showroom.

As it shares almost everything—except the deleted roof and rear doors, of course—with the original Karma, the S is a technological treat capable of sprinting to 60 mph in about six seconds, traveling up to 50 miles on battery power, and averaging nearly 100 mpg or so, Fisker says, depending of course on how far you drive and how charged the battery was when you started. On shorter trips where the Karma only uses electricity from the battery pack that was charged by plugging it in, it burns no gas and effetively achieves infinite mpg. Its advanced, plug-in hybrid powertrain includes a 260-hp General Motors 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, which serves as a generator to charge the Q-Drive lithium-ion battery system that powers two electric-drive motors integrated with the rear axle. Fisker quotes combined output at a stout 403 hp and almost a pavement-shredding 1000 lb-ft of torque.

Obviously, the biggest difference between the two cars is the S’s transformation into a proper grand-touring car. The chrome-accented power hardtop folds and stows into the trunk, while the lower sides of the body sport sculpted protrusions for the exhaust outlets that exit out the front fenders. While the swooping styling looks terrific on the sedan, the hardtop’s execution is even more attractive; hints of Maserati GranTurismo, Ferrari California, and Mercedes-Benz SL mix with multiple original touches for a stunning coupe silhouette.

We have yet to drive even the original Karma sedan and some details still are being worked out, such as a dealer network. Fisker says the company will announce 40 dealers in 2009, which will be extentions of current luxury outlets, and assures us that the car is not vaporware and that deliveries will begin by late 2009, with the convertible likely following sometime in 2011. And there’s little doubt that the S will see production as long as the sedan lives up to the hype that’s been surrounding it since being unveiled at last year’s Detroit auto show. Pricing for the Karma sedan will start around $87,900, with the production S likely commanding a sizable premium atop that figure.

January 2009