VL Destino

A luxury performance sedan needs to have a lot of boxes checked off in order to stand out in a field of cookie-cutter four-doors. And the Fisker Karma checked off nearly all of them, with two notable exceptions: one was that gap-toothed grin, and the other was its hybrid powertrain. Fortunately, VL Automotive claims to have the answer to both.

The company headed up by Bob Lutz – that veteran top exec of all the Big Three automakers in Detroit – is building upon the ruins of Fisker Automotive, taking its Karma hybrid sedan, replacing its divisive grille with a more conventional one and its hybrid propulsion system with a small-block Corvette V8.

The result is called the Destino, and was unveiled earlier this year at the Detroit Auto Show. Since then, Lutz, his business partner Gilbert Villereal and their team at VL Automotive have run into some problems – including an Asian investor that was holding out on providing crucial access codes to the car's electronic systems – but now they're back on track.

VL is both buying unsold Karma chassis and offering to convert owners' cars, replacing key body panels and shoehorning in either the 450-horsepower, direct-injection LT1 from the new Stingray or the 638hp supercharged LS9 from the ZR1. Lutz promises the result will be smooth and refined, not raw and ragged, when it hits the market in the middle of next year with a price tag hovering around the $200,000 mark.