If you’re looking for an electric sports car to go green and go fast, consider the Karma Revero GT. If the Tesla Model S is too familiar and the BMW i8 too ugly, the Revero offers an exclusive sporty hybrid option.
If you drive 60 miles a day or less, you won’t have to gas up the Revero GT. It puts an end to range anxiety because the onboard range-extender drivetrain recharges the battery for more than 300 miles worth of juice. It’s a PHEV (Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle) with three modes: Stealth (battery only), Sustain (generator only), and Sport (Battery and Generator).
For the list price of $135,000, the 2020 Revero GT offers 536 hp and a range of 61 miles on the battery only, and 330 miles with the range extender. In fact, Green Car Journal named it the 2020 Luxury Green Car of the Year for its laudable environmental performance with other characteristics including style, value and safety.
The Revero GT has a gas engine to recharge the battery, but it doesn’t drive the wheels. Instead, the onboard generator supplies energy to a 28-kW-hour, lithium-ion battery pack. That’s like the setups on the defunct Chevrolet Volt and BMW i8. The BMW comparison is valid, as the Revero uses the same three-cylinder motor to drive its generator.
With the onboard 6.6-kW charger and a 120-volt outlet, the battery reaches full charge in 10 hours. With a 40kW charger, the battery goes from 15-85% in less than 20 minutes. A Level 2 public charger, found in countless spots around the country, will let you recharge in about four hours. The total cruising range is around 360 miles, with up to 80 miles of that on full battery power.
The Revero GT is based on the Fisker Karma, first produced in 2012. Through losses in a fire and a later bankruptcy, the company was bought by the Wanxiang Group and renamed Karma Automotive. Fisker was launched by Henrik Fisker, a noted automotive designer responsible for the Aston Martin DB9, among many others.
The Revero reflects its origin as the Fisker Karma car but actually shares very few parts with its predecessor. It’s big and wide and very swoopy. It weighs in at 5,050 lbs., likely due to the battery and electrical systems. You can save a few pounds by opting for the 22-inch, carbon-fiber wheels, which can shave about one-tenth of a second off the estimated 4.5-second 0-60-mph time. The bespoke Pirelli P04 tire increases the Revero GT’s range while maintaining appropriate dynamic performance, and the tightly tune suspension system quickly responds to the demands of the driver for a smooth, connected drive.
The car always starts in Stealth mode, running on the battery alone. When it starts to run out of power, the generator begins to supply juice to the battery. Sustain mode mixes the two forms of energy, running on the battery until the car reaches 25 mph, and then it activates the generator. Sport mode sharpens the throttle response and unlocks the launch control feature. While you won’t see the 0-60 times competitive with the Tesla Model S in Ludicrous mode, it still delivers impressive performance.
You can also control the level of regenerative braking the car experiences. Level 1 is almost like driving a regular car, with little braking assist. Level 2 adds more energy back into the battery. Level 3 feels close to one-pedal operation, where you don’t have to apply the brake to come to a stop. But if you let off the accelerator at about 45 mph, you’ll just need to give the brakes a tap. The brakes are a Brembo performance set that provides plenty of stopping power.
The Karma folks say the Tesla isn’t really their competition. To some extent that’s true, because the Model S is battery-only. A more direct comparison might be the new Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid or the BMW i8 that’s leaving the market in 2020.
Test drivers say the Revero GT handles surprisingly well given its weight. The company is developing rear-axle torque vectoring steering that it will push out through an over-the-air software update.
If a Tesla feels like a Toyota Camry in your neighborhood, the Revero GT may offer the exclusivity you crave. The company plans to build just 500 cars in the first year, sold through 23 dealerships in the U.S.
Photos courtesy of Karma Automotive.