Hybrid-electric Karma in looks only

18:10, Jan 29 2013
VL Destino
VL DESTINO: It looks like a Fisker Karma, but underneath it's a whole new automotive kettle of kilowatts

In Detroit terms VL Automotive is a very small carmaker. It launched a new car at this month's North American Auto Show which looks familiar but isn't what it appears to be.

It's a coupe-like four-door luxury sports sedan that VL calls its Destino, which resembles the Fisker Karma hybrid-electric car. The reason it looks that way is because it is a Karma, albeit minus all the clean green and sensible bits, replacing them with a Chevrolet LT1 V8 engine of 6.2 litres putting out 331 kW and 610 Nm of torque.

It can be optioned with a supercharger if you're after even more urge, in which case figures of 470 kW and 820 Nm are expected.

The brand VL Automotive is the brainchild of former General Motors executive Bob Lutz and entrepreneur Gilbert Villareal.

With the battery pack disposed of, the power to weight ratio of this heavily modified former Fisker is very performance oriented. VL says the Destino holds its own against sports sedans such as the BMW M5 and AMG Mercedes-Benzes.

The VL Automotive Destino can be distinguished from the Karma by special front and rear bumpers, a recessed mesh grille and various air dams. At the rear, a cluster of four exhaust pipes are a giveaway.

Lutz was a champion of the extended-range Chevrolet Volt when he was with General Motors, so the Destino appears a slight departure. However, when it's remembered that Lutz at one time went to work in a fighter jet, the raison d'etre of the Destino all falls into place.

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