Fisker Karma started handing out keys for test drives of its Karma EVer electric car. "EVer" means Extended Range electric vehicle, and the $100,000 Karma features a series hybrid drivetrain that uses electric motors to move the wheels and a gas engine to provide additional power to said motors. Like the Nissan Leaf, Karma's gas engine never actually moves the car forward, but rather works to provide extra thrust or extra range what's basically an electric vehicle.

Unlike Leaf, Karma is a $100,000 sports sedan with a muscular, low-slung profile and giant 22-inch wheels. Karma was engineered to drive like a sports sedan, and apparently Fisker's done good in executing their vision. The pre-production 2012 Karma has been compared favorably to high end sports sedans like Porsche's Panamera – the car was designed by CEO Henrik Fisker, who also penned the mighty Aston Martin DB9 and BMW Z8 – with a few outlets tripping all over themselves in saying things like,

Shall we risk a shower of disbelief from commentators by saying the Karma is the best handling large premium car in this entire segment? Why, yes, we shall.

The best handling large premium car, period, is a pre-production version of a hybrid? Well, a wise old newspaper man once said that nothing sells news like controversy. Still, that's pretty serious praise and Autoblog is far from the only corner of the media to walk away from their test drive singing Karma's praises. To wit, Car and Driver on their first drive of the 2012 Karma:

The Karma's steering is endowed with real road feel and linear turn-in response. The ride is supple, and there's minimal body roll when you fling the wheel; the low-mounted, 600-pound battery pack makes for an effective keel.

Karma 2Fisker claims the '12 Karma will sprint from 0 to 6 mph in 5.9 seconds in Sport mode, which revs the gas engine harder to provide extra power to the electric drivetrain. Flipping the switch back to the more eco-friendly Stealth mode makes Karma act like a full-on electric vehicle, slowing your 0-60 time to  7.9 seconds and adding some 250 miles to your driving range by using internal combustion for range extending, and not speed boosting, purposes. Fully charged, the batteries are good for up to 50 miles of travel without any gas-fueled assist.

No doubt Karma will be one of the deadliest hybrids ever conceived when it ships later this Spring. But what about its looks? Ugly but deadly or just plain deadly? Me, I'm not sold on Karma's "muscle car of the future" aesthetics, though I tend to prefer gentle curves to bold haunches on my four door saloons.

And that grille? It's reminiscent of a Smiling Mazda, isn't it? Which is fine if that's your cup of tea, but to me looks sort of out of place on a hybrid muscle car. But then again, what do I know about how hybrid muscle cars are supposed to look? What do any of us know about hybrid muscle cars at all, really?

What say you on the $100k hybrid with 22″ rims and a sub-6 seconds 0-60 time? The 2012 Fisker Karma: Ugly but deadly or just plain deadly?