By Zack McDonald from HybridCars.com
The Fisker Karma has faced some tough press lately, including a brief, misinformed outrage surrounding the fact that the car will be manufactured in Finland despite the Fisker’s receipt of a $529 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy. As those who have followed the company over the years know, Fisker intended to build the Karma in Finland long before it received any federal loan guarantees, and still plans to manufacture its next vehicle at a factory in Delaware.
Recently though, the headlines have begun to tilt in the Karma’s favor. On Wednesday, it was announced that Automobile magazine had named the car “Design of the Year” for 2012, calling it “a beautiful and highly dramatic automobile, unlike anything else on the road today and yet very much like dozens of the most beloved sports cars of the past.”
The accolade underscores an important point about the Karma that tends to get lost in a flood of often politically-tinged reactions: the Karma is a $96,000 luxury sports sedan and as such, it deserves to be evaluated on different terms from the Chevy Volt or Toyota Prius Plug-in. Emissions-conscious purchasers of luxury performance vehicles haven’t traditionally had many offerings to choose from. The Karma gives this relatively untested market a new option, and according to Automobile magazine-and nearly everyone else who’s driven and reviewed the vehicle-it’s a pretty impressive one at that.
Over in Europe, the Karma got some more good news last week from independent fuel efficiency tests carried out by the German regulatory body Technischer Überwachungs Verein (TÜV). The results of those tests prove that the Fisker Karma is one of the most capable—at least among plug-in hybrid vehicles—electric-only-mode performers in the world. The TÜV’s thorough “real-world urban” tests show that the plug-in returned an impressive 51.6-mile range in electric-only mode. This figure beats the Karma’s official EPA rating by a substantial 19.6 miles.
Of the results, Henrik Fisker, chief executive officer of Fisker Automotive, stated, “We are delighted that the TÜV has confirmed that most owners will achieve a 50-mile range running purely on electric during their daily commute.”
The 2012 Fisker Karma is currently on sale in the US, though production volume is extremely limited and all Karmas to be sold in 2011 have already been spoken for. Come next year, Fisker aims to ramp up production and sell approximately 15,000 Karmas in the US and Europe.
Past winners of the coveted title of Automobile Magazine’s Automobile of the Year have been ones that have had dramatic changes, included ground-breaking technology, or some sort of spectacular upgrade from its predecessor. This year, for the 2012 Automobile of the Year, it is not the case. Rather, the Audi A7 is a representation of what consumers have come to expect from the brand. Audi has been building attractive, fast, and rewarding luxury cars for some time now. Anchored by Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive, bristling state-of-the-art technologies, and surrounding its passengers with an artfully crafted interior, the A7 is exactly in keeping with the cars the Audi has been turning out. As editor-in-chief, Jean Jennings says, “It’s the culmination of everything Audi has promised.”
The Audi A7 may not taut a list of major new technologies, but the list of leading-edge features are impressive. Using a touchpad, input into the navigation system can be made by drawing them with your finger, which requires less eyes-away-from-the-road than traditional methods. Google Earth imagery is also incorporated and the car functions as a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot. LED front accent lighting–which was pioneered by Audi–is standard, and full-LED active headlamps are also available. Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive system is more than a safety feature, as the rear torque bias provides the sportier, more responsive cornering of a rear-wheel drive car with the ability to put more power to the ground.
The A7 isn’t a dramatic upgrade from its predecessor, because it didn’t have one! You’ll find it positioned in the lineup between the A6 and the A8 sedans, the A7 is actually something new from Audi. It’s the latest “couped” sedan that has perfect proportions and an eye-catching style that boasts sophistication. Dynamically, its a delight with an enviable ride/handling balance. It certainly is a large car, but you wouldn’t know it from behind the wheel. The sports suspension (part of the S Line package) strikes a nearly ideals balance between ride comfort and limiting body roll. As associate editor, Eric Tingwall, pointed out, “Whether it’s commuting, being driven hard, or touring, the A7 can please any driver.”
The A7 is powered by a 3.0-liter TFSI supercharged V6 that delivers 310 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque at just 2,900 rpm. The use of direct injection and force feeding the engine with fresh air spreads the power over a very broad range, which enables the A7 to hustle from 0 to 60 mph in 5.0 seconds. But best of all, performance comes with healthy fuel consumption, nursing a gallon of premium over 28 highway miles. Overall, what stands out most in the A7 is the fact that excellence in any one area does not come at the expense of its competence in any other. Mesmerizing to look at and seductive to drive, the Audi A7 is a car to aspire to — and an entirely worthy Automobile Car of the Year.
Drop by Pacific Audi today to see the 2012 Audi A7 as it’s definitely a car that you’ll want to experience in person.