Roughly four to five months after you've dropped your car off in Irvine, you're presented with the finished product. For reasons of both cost and logistics - every component that's even remotely related to safety must be recertified and/or re-crash-tested by the government if modified, a process that is neither quick nor cheap - the end result keeps the proportions, glass, and interior construction of the base vehicle. Regardless, the end result is truly astounding - the fundamental shape is obviously that of a 6-series BMW, but it's far more delicate, Italianate, and exotic. (The fact that the Latigo amazes as much as the stock 6-series underwhelms exemplifies the popular theory that the problem with BMW's current designs isn't the proportions, but the details.) In person, you spend a lot of time staring at the flanks, staring at the taut rear end, and soaking up the dripping reflections. In short, it's gorgeous.
On the road, as would be expected, the Latigo drives like a BMW. Our test car-number 001 of 150, and the first-ever Latigo in customer hands-was equipped with the optional Fisker Performance Plus Package ($50,000), a Racing-Dynamics-developed package for the M6's 500-hp V-10 that ups power output by 148 hp. The Latigo also comes standard with Racing Dynamics sport springs and twenty-inch, Fisker-branded, three-piece forged alloy wheels. (255-section-width rubber is standard in front, 285 in the rear.) The end result is a faster, lower 6-series with heavier steering and a noticeably fidgety-but not uncomfortable-ride. Running through the optional RD Sport exhaust, the V-10 is slightly boomy at idle, but sounds fantastic everywhere else. The M6's SMG-II seven-speed gearbox, along with its harsh factory calibration, is retained, and remains a wart on an otherwise pleasant driving experience. (Fisker claims that an exclusive, recalibrated shift program is in the works.) The M6's stock electronically adjustable shocks keep up decently, but not completely, with the heavier wheels and different springs. All in all, the car works like you would expect it to, and while a software glitch prevented us from exploiting the Latigo's full 648 hp (we were limited to a paltry 548 hp), the car is a composed, quiet, leather-stuffed good time.
As a company, Fisker is incredibly focused on personal attention and customer satisfaction. "We're aiming to produce a totally different buying experience," claims Fisker, "one that possibly used to be the realm of only Ferrari or Maserati, but certainly isn't any more. We're very (focused) on the quality we deliver because we're such a small company, and that's where smaller companies traditionally have issues. That's why we base our cars on known technology-our customers want a unique car that's also a known commodity. Our customers want to feel special."
In the end, that's all that matters. It doesn't matter that you've paid up to three hundred grand for a BMW with a different skin, and it doesn't matter that that same amount of cash could've snagged any one of a hundred Ferraris, Lamborghinis, or platinum-plated Bentleys. All that matters is the sensations that rush at you from behind the wheel; the Fisker feels hand-trimmed, unique, and truly luxurious because it is, and as a result, it's impossible to not feel special from behind its wheel. To boot, by supporting a supremely gifted artist - and the man who designed the V8 Vantage can be called nothing less - you feel as if you've done the world and yourself a service at the same time. Spend an awful lot of money to make an ugly car gorgeous? It feels like a cultured, educated choice.
Like every other Fisker model, only 150 examples of the Latigo will be built, so it's definitely exclusive. Would we buy one? Probably not. Fiskers are, admittedly, a very pretty statement and little more. (The Racing Dynamics engine package isn't exclusive to Fisker Coachbuild, and can be retrofitted to other BMWs through RDS directly.) But in a world where the truly unique is becoming harder and harder to come by, who can be faulted for wanting to be different?