First Look: Fisker Atlantic Prototype

The Fisker Karma is stylish and technologically advanced, but, with a price tag of almost $97,000 (before tax credits), unattainable for most people. The niche automaker hopes to follow up on the Karma's momentum with the Fisker Atlantic, which will carry a more budget-friendly asking price about half of the Karma's MSRP.

The Fisker Atlantic -- unveiled in prototype form prior to the 2012 New York auto show -- will be the first product from the automaker's Project Nina, essentially a group of three new cars with the goal of attracting more buyers to the brand. Perhaps more important, the Atlantic and remaining Project Nina models could reverse recent blows to the automaker's image, including executive struggles, news of financial struggles, and reports of a few Karmas experiencing mechanical hiccups.

Fisker has teased us about the project for quite some time now, stating that the cars would be more affordable but still have styling and powertrains similar to the flagship Karma. And judging from the pictures, it's clear the Atlantic prototype shares the Karma's stunning design cues, including its familiar front fascia with two grilles, angular foglamp housings, and a dramatic power dome on the hood. The side profile features heavily sculpted character lines with oversized fenders that provide enough clearance for the large tires. The handle for the rear door is hidden within the C-pillar, which gives the profile a cleaner, and, from certain angles, coupe-like look. Fisker amusingly describes the Atlantic's profile styling as "replicating the stance of a wild tiger ready to pounce." From the back, the Atlantic's taillight design is inspired by the thin, horizontal slits found on the Karma. The prototype's all-glass roof - supported by a "spider structure" - not only adds drama, but should also meet crash and rollover requirements, Fisker says.

Details on its plug-in hybrid powertrain haven't been released, but it will mimic the Karma's Electric Vehicle with extended range (EVer) setup. That means a plug-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery will power an electric motor at the rear wheels. However, unlike the Karma, Fisker says the Atlantic will also be offered with an all-wheel-drive option, which should attract customers who live in rainy or snowy climes. Like the Karma, the Atlantic will feature a gas-powered range extender that sustains the battery pack's charge when power is depleted. While not official, the range extender is expected to be a four-cylinder engine sourced from BMW. The Karma currently uses a 235-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged direct-injected four-cylinder engine sourced from General Motors.

Fisker says the Atlantic should be similar in size to the Audi A5. If so, Fisker's new sedan will likely have a seating capacity of four passengers. Expect the interior to share the luxurious and technological elements found in the Karma, such as full leather seating surfaces, metallic accents, and an advanced infotainment system. The cabin will feature reclaimed wood from various parts of the world, adding to the Atlantic's eco-friendly cred.

An on-sale date hasn't been determined, but production is slated to begin by the end of this year. All Project Nina cars including the Atlantic will be produced at Fisker's new assembly plant in Wilmington, Delaware, that was formerly owned by GM.

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