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.


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  • 54 Comments
      spanner76
      • 1 Year Ago
      I didn't really care much for the Karma but the Destino with its redesigned nose really completes the car. Not to mention the addition of a 600+ hp Chev V8 under the bonnet! A recipe for utter delicousness! But yeah is a tad on the pricey side.. I'd rather just buy a Tesla model S and live without the V8.. Or simply buy a new Corvette!
      jcar302
      • 1 Year Ago
      I think the car looks pretty good, like the idea, but hate the ridiculous price. At 200k, you could buy a zr1, ctsv and have a few bucks left over for a pickup truck. 200 grand for a car that you really didn't have to do too much R&D work on is crazy.
        jz78817
        • 1 Year Ago
        @jcar302
        you honestly think people "cross-shop" cars at this price level?
          jz78817
          • 1 Year Ago
          @jz78817
          #1 it costs them a lot of money to buy the rolling chassis from Valmet, so there's mark-up there. #2 it still has to be certified to FMVSS standards, which costs a lot of money. They can't use the Karma's results as surrogate data because the entire powertrain is different. you are arguing from a position of ignorance. You have little idea what is required to sell a finished vehicle on the market. This isn't "just putting an engine in an existing car and charging too much for it." As for the cross-shopping comment, someone with the means to drop $200k on a car is going to buy the car he/she wants. Faffing about price doesn't even enter the picture.
          jcar302
          • 1 Year Ago
          @jz78817
          What does it have to do with cross shopping? They are charging $200,000 for a car all they did was stick an engine (that was already designed by someone else) in and tweak the suspension. The point of a car like this should be to make it cheaper, not more expensive. They do less work and charge more money, people will see that and won't pay the asking price.
      the.fog
      • 1 Year Ago
      Looked better with the Karma grille... Now it just looks forgettable (like 99% of today's sports cars)
      Derek Washington
      • 1 Year Ago
      I loved the Karma and this is even better!
      John Jacob
      • 1 Year Ago
      VL Destino... It could be the name of a car in a Grand Theft Auto game.
      thecommentator2013
      • 1 Year Ago
      Finally this car makes sense. And the grille is so way nicer.
      Jonathan Ippolito
      • 1 Year Ago
      Nice but the actual press release states that their is also a second completely different car that is going to be built by this company and their is no mention of it in this article .So what is the second car ?
      wafflesnfalafel
      • 1 Year Ago
      It's kinda like the reverse of a custom coach builder. Instead of "I've got this chassis and I want you to put a pretty body on it," we have, "I have this pretty body - can you put a chassis under it?" Like a modern hot rod.
        dukeisduke
        • 1 Year Ago
        @wafflesnfalafel
        Or put a lifted 4x4 chassis under it. Hillbilly luxury.
      Awhattup
      • 1 Year Ago
      Nothing against EVs but this is indeed cooler. The price point is a bit too high though... too many other good cars to consider.. Ah.. besides its cool bodywork, if you want power and comfort of sedan, I'd look at a S63 AMG instead, which is far superior.
      Scooter
      • 1 Year Ago
      The Fisker Karma is easily the most offensively styled car out there. Just plain ugly.
      Sims
      • 1 Year Ago
      Am I the only one who would immediately swap that nose for the Fisker 'gap tooth grin'? I always thought that was the best design feature of the Karma.
      sp33dklz
      • 1 Year Ago
      Impressive panel gaps. You could lose a small child in one.
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