by Karl Furlong
There's something to be said for the maverick (the individualist, not the Ford truck) who goes about life making unorthodox decisions that befuddle the general population. For such a person, the Karma GS-6 is the perfect mode of transportation. This car has a muddled history that goes back to the Revero GT as well as a change in ownership from Fisker Automotive to Karma Automotive. Whatever its origins, the GS-6 is certainly not a boring car, with eye-catching styling and a 536-horsepower plug-in hybrid powertrain with an impressive all-electric range of over 60 miles. Its size places it alongside electrified rivals like the Tesla Model S, Porsche Taycan, and Porsche Panamera Hybrid, and while the GS-6 isn't as polished as all those cars with its unrefined three-cylinder engine, it is far more exclusive - but is that reason enough to buy one?
Arriving in 2021, the Karma GS-6 is a rebadged version of the Revero GT, only with a much more attainable starting price. A 1.5-liter three-cylinder turbocharged gas engine acts as a generator but doesn't drive the wheels; dual electric motors do that task. Technically, this makes the GS-6 a plug-in hybrid, but not in the conventional sense where the gas engine drives the wheels. For the occupants, the GS-6 has a luxurious but space-constrained interior and a starting price of over $90,000.
The only change made to the 2022 GS-6 is the discontinuation of the base trim, but this does mean that the GS-6 is pricier than before.
Arriving as a rebadged version of the Revero GT under the Karma Automotive brand, the Karma GS-6 is a full-size plug-in hybrid sedan with a difference: its gas engine doesn't drive the wheels but operates as a generator when the battery is depleted. Dual rear electric motors provide 536 hp and a 0-60 mph time of as quick as 3.9 seconds. This is a four-seater sedan, though, as a large center tunnel runs through the interior, taking up space in the center rear area.
There are two Karma GS-6 trims with slightly different performance specs, those being the Luxury and the Sport. Both trim levels have a 1.5-liter three-cylinder turbocharged engine that doesn't drive the wheels but acts as a generator for the 28-kWh battery. Rather, the GS-6 is powered by twin electric motors driving the rear wheels (now AWS configurations are available), and these produce 536 hp and 550 lb-ft as standard. Torque specifications increase to 650 lb-ft with the Sport, reducing the 0-60 time to 3.9 seconds.
Without specifying any options, the GS-6 comes with LED headlights, dual-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable front seats, leather upholstery, keyless entry, push-button start, a 10.2-inch touchscreen interface, and a digital driver's display. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert form part of a comprehensive driver-assistance suite to which adaptive cruise control can also be added via a package.
The Sport variant comes with larger 22-inch wheels, blacked-out exterior trim, and performance brakes with red calipers.
Karma was able to drop the base price of the Revero by nearly $50,000 in the change over to calling it the GS-6. However, it’s still a plug-in series electric vehicle with a 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine acting as a generator in support of a 28 kWh lithium-ion battery pack powering two electric motors on the rear axle. This four-door sedan seats four occupants, with amenities including power-adjustable front seats and a 10.2-inch infotainment touchscreen with an eight-speaker sound system. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard, as is dual-zone climate control for added comfort. The interior gets leather upholstery and gloss black trim
The Karma GS-6's basic exterior design may have been around for a while but it is still a gorgeous one. It sits low to the ground and boasts voluptuous fenders and probably the most elegant integration of a pair of rear doors on any car. The LED headlights and taillights are simple but striking, but the GS-6's most impactful aspect is probably from the side where the car's long wheelbase and overall body length are on full display. Wheel sizes measure between 21 and 22 inches, with the most recent model we drove having larger wheels and an exterior Blackout Package.
At 124.4 inches, the wheelbase of the 2022 Karma GS-6 is one of the longest you'll find on any sedan - longer even than the long-wheelbase version of the Porsche Panamera. It's contained in a body that stretches to 199.4 inches. Other Karma GS-6 dimensions include a width of 85.1 inches and a height of 52.4 inches. The curb weight of the Karma GS-6 comes in at 5,043 pounds.
Karma hasn't said that GS-6 exterior colors have changed for 2022, so we presume you will still have access to hues like Saguaro Green, Imperial Copper, Coastal White (the only no-cost hue), Surf White, the Pacifico Grey of our test unit, Napa Red, and Horizon Orange. In total, there are 12 colors to choose from, so that's a lot more choice than you get with Tesla.
The claimed 0-60 mph time of the new Karma GS-6 sedan is 4.5 seconds, but an available performance specification will drop that time to 3.9 seconds. The top speed rises from 125 mph as standard to 130 mph for the Sport model. Anyone coming from a gas-only sedan will find these specs to be most agreeable and in the entertaining Sport mode with launch control, it does push your back in your seat, while emitting a growl from an active exhaust system. No three-pot can hope to match a V8 in this regard, but at least there is some acoustic flair.
Total outputs are 536 hp and 550 lb-ft of torque, with dual electric motors powering the rear wheels and the 1.5-liter turbocharged three-pot acting as a generator - this engine also did duty in the BMW i8. With the GS-6 Sport, the torque figure rises to 650 lb-ft. Although quick, the GS-6's acceleration lags behind the quickest versions of the Porsche Taycan and Tesla Model S, but those are pure EVs.
Karma has gone a much more complicated route to achieve greener motoring. Instead of a large battery pack, the GS-6 has a smaller 28-kWh battery. When depleted, a 1.5-liter three-cylinder turbocharged engine acts as a generator for the Karma GS-6 to give the car a more generous range.
With dual electric motors powering the rear wheels, the car's total outputs work out to 536 hp and 550 lb-ft of torque, bolstered by another 100 lb-ft in the Sport version. The GS-6 directs power to the rear wheels via a single-speed transmission.
The downside to the experience is that the 1.5L engine is often noisy and at odds with the otherwise silent, refined nature of the car. At least the electric motors ensure easy merges on the highway and strong acceleration off the mark.
On our test drive review of the Karma GS-6 plug-in hybrid, we appreciated the sporty driving position and the view of the long hood. This is quite a fun vehicle to drive, with the quick acceleration working well with oodles of grip from the tires. The car masks its size well at higher speeds and only becomes an issue when trying to squeeze into a tight parking spot.
As a luxury vehicle, the rear-wheel-drive GS-6 also acquits itself well with a well-damped suspension that makes highway cruising quite a serene affair. The ride isn't soft, but it also isn't overly jarring across road scars. On the downside, the sound of the three-cylinder when the battery depletes isn't in keeping with the luxuriousness of the overall package, with a coarse drone that many will find annoying.
Downhills provide an opportunity to recapture energy for the battery, but when there is enough charge, the motors provide rapid acceleration and make the GS-6 feel just like a normal EV.
According to the latest EPA figures, the Karma GS-6 PHEV will manage 70 MPGe or 26 mpg combined on 21-inch wheels, dropping to 62 MPGe/22 mpg on the larger 22s. The former has a 330-mile total range and a 61-mile all-electric range, while the latter can go up to 280 miles, with 54 of those without the aid of the electric motor.
For daily commutes to and from the office, the RWD GS-6 has enough electric range so that the three-cylinder generator is never needed, but longer trips will require the use of this gas engine.
To get the 28-kWh lithium-ion battery from 5% to 95% with a regular household outlet, customers will need four hours. Level 2 charging drops that time to 34 minutes for a 90% charge. A 10.25-gallon gas tank is equipped for the small engine and requires the use of premium gasoline.
There are many high-quality materials in the Karma GS-6's interior, and the car is equipped with most of the expected modern amenities, such as a heated steering wheel, smartphone integration, a digital instrument cluster, and a surround-view camera system. Although quite sporty, the design of the dashboard isn't as fresh as what you'll find in a Porsche Taycan, and the GS-6 also isn't practical considering its size, but more on that in the next section. The low-mounted touchscreen also isn't the easiest to access when on the move.
For such a large sedan, the Karma GS-6 falls short in the amount of interior space it provides. This is technically a four-seater car, but despite the extremely long wheelbase, it isn't at all spacious. There is a fat, tall center tunnel that does contribute to a sporty and cocooning feel, but larger occupants will feel claustrophobic, especially when the cabin is finished in somber black. Even average-sized adults will struggle with only 33 inches of legroom in the second row, and headroom isn't great either. There is more seating space in front, but it never feels like a place where you can comfortably stretch out. All that being said, the seats themselves are comfortable if you are of smaller stature.
Ingress and egress are cumbersome for a sedan, partly because of the lack of space and also due to the fact that the GS-6 is so low. The driver also has to contend with poor visibility due to narrow windows and a long hood.
Black Palisades leather upholstery comes as standard, but we'd suggest spending extra on one of the lighter options that go some way to making the interior feel airier. Other color schemes include Crystal Cove, Rebel Lava (a combination of black and red), Rebel Ceramic (black and white), and Rebel Reef (black and blue). Depending on the trim level, customers can have gloss black inserts or choose from carbon fiber, Olive Ash wood, or Burned Lace Oak. Some limitations exist as to which trim inserts can be paired with which leather color. The quality of the materials in the interior is generally excellent.
For a large sedan, the cargo space in the Karma GS-6 is disappointingly small at just 6.4 cubic feet. The space is wide enough but very shallow since the twin electric motors are situated below the trunk. Many two-door coupes have more space than this, and because the GS-6 has a gas engine as well, it lacks the frunk that you'll find in pure EVs like the Tesla Model S.
Interior storage space for small items consists of dual cupholders front and rear plus another storage compartment beneath the center armrest that isn't as deep as we'd like. There are also door pockets, but overall, this is hardly the most practical sedan you can buy.
As standard, the Karma GS-6 is equipped with dual-zone climate control, power-adjustable front seats with heating as well as a memory system for the driver, and a multi-function steering wheel that includes haptic feedback. Naturally, you won't have to pay anything extra for essentials like a rearview camera, keyless entry, and push-button start. There are also paddles behind the steering wheel for managing the regenerative braking as well as the various driving modes.
Karma hasn't skimped on driver-assistance equipment, as the GS-6 comes with advanced cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, and a surround-view camera system, among others.
Besides its digital instrument cluster, the GS-6 also comes with a 10.2-inch touchscreen interface in the center of the dashboard. Our gripe with this setup is that the majority of features require you to delve into the touchscreen, and we do miss at least a few more physical controls. There is no integrated navigation at all, so you have to make use of either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto to get to your destination. The car also comes with Bluetooth connectivity, HD Radio, and an eight-speaker sound system with 680 watts of punch.
There are no recalls on record for the Karma GS-6, which is a relief considering the complicated nature of the powertrain. J.D. Power hasn't officially rated this vehicle, so there isn't an abundance of reliability data for the GS-6 at this stage. However, the older Karma Revero that this car shares a lot with was recalled four times for the 2018 model year for issues that included airbags that may not deploy, incorrect rearview mirrors, and a front door intrusion bar that could be split. Since being renamed the GS-6, the car seems to be more trouble-free.
If anything does go wrong, the car comes with a four-year/50,000-mile basic warranty (and the same coverage for roadside assistance), and an eight-year/80,000-mile powertrain warranty. Finally, the high-voltage battery is covered for ten years or 150,000 miles.
There are no safety ratings from the IIHS or NHTSA for the Karma GS-6, likely because it is a low-volume, high-priced model. However, it comes with multiple safety features so we expect it to hold up well in a crash test.
NHTSA safety ratings are not available at this time.
There are a total of eight airbags placed around the interior of the GS-6, made up of dual front, dual front knee, dual front side, and side-curtain airbags. Dynamic stability control and a rearview camera are two usual items.
In terms of driver-assistance safety features, there are many. Adding to the rearview camera is a full surround-view camera system, while available advanced cruise control and lane keep assist are two useful functions that make highway driving more relaxing. The car also comes with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring with lane-change assist, rear cross-traffic alert, parking distance monitoring, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. The adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist form part of the available driver-assistance package.
Between its low-slung looks and its unusual plug-in hybrid powertrain, the Karma GS-6 is not a sedan lacking in character. You won't see many of them on the road in the USA, and for those who are allergic to generic sedans, this one will ensure that you stand out. Unfortunately, the GS-6 has some glaring flaws, including its poor interior and cargo space, the unrefined nature of the three-cylinder engine, and the somewhat dated interior design. The Porsche Panamera Hybrid, Porsche Taycan, Tesla Model S, and Lucid Air are all more well-rounded electrified vehicles, and each one is far more practical to live with. The GS-6 is a clever idea on paper but one that fails to convince in reality, and if you want something that has more up its sleeve than the ability to crane necks, we'd suggest shopping elsewhere.
Now that the previous base trim has been dropped, the new starting price of the 2022 Karma GS-6 has increased. The Luxury model begins at $93,900, although this is the MSRP of the Karma GS-6 and excludes a rather hefty destination charge of $1,800. For the Sport, expect to pay $99,990 and into six figures once you take the destination charge into account.
The Driver Assistance Package will likely be a popular option as it adds adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist, including the ability of the car to make steering corrections to keep you in your lane. This will add $2,900 to the base price.
The sedan is also available with carbon fiber trim, while you'll have to shell out more for premium paint, nicer wheels, and other color schemes.
There is only a $6,000 difference between the two trims, and for the extra money, the Sport is even quicker. However, the GS-6 is also about luxury motoring and isn't an all-out sports car, so we'd rather go for the Luxury model and add the Driver Assistance Package, while still coming in at less than the starting price of the Sport.
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