The VL Destino
Patrick Rall's picture

The VL Destino packs 2013 Corvette ZR1 or 2014 Stingray power in Fisker Karma skin

Among the more unique vehicles to debut at this week’s 2013 Detroit Auto Show is the VL Destino – a high performance luxury sedan that features the exterior shape of the electric Fisker Karma with a drivetrain borrowed from either the 2013 Corvette ZR1 or the new 2014 Corvette Stingray.
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The VL Destino is a high performance luxury sedan that was designed by former GM CEO Bob Lutz and investor Gilbert Villereal, taking the interior and exterior design of the Fisker Karma electric luxury sedan and removing the extended range electric drivetrain of the Karma to make room for either the LT1 V8 from the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette or the supercharged LS9 V8 from the 2013 Corvette ZR1. While the Fisker Karma provides luxury sport feel like no other electric vehicle on the market today, the VL Destino enters the market as a very high performance alternative for the wealthy buyer who loves the look of the Karma sedan yet is more concerned about high performance than they are saving the world from the harms of greenhouse gases.

When passing the VL Destino early on Monday morning while in a rush to get to the main floor of the 2013 North American International Auto Show, saw what looked to be a pair of Fisker Karma sedans sitting in the lobby of Detroit’s Cobo Hall when in reality what I had passed was a pair of 638 horsepower high end luxury sedans packing serious Corvette power. Upon realizing this, I had to make a trip to the VL booth to check out the Corvette-powered Fisker Karma as I love the look of the Fisker and I love the output of both the 2013 Corvette ZR1 and the 2014 Corvette Stingray. Don’t get me wrong – the Fisker Karma is a fantastic car in its basic form and there is no question in my mind that it is the most engaging electric vehicle that I have ever driven while also being the most luxurious. However, as a lover of going very fast, I cannot find any reason to complain about a car that looks and feels like a Fisker Karma with a power output ranging from 450 to 638 horsepower and a proper 6-speed manual transmission sending all of that power to the rear wheels. The Fisker Karma is a great deal of fun to drive with the standard electric drivetrain but pouring in all of that Corvette power can only make the Karma more engaging.

In order for Gilbert Villereal and Bob Lutz to make the deal happen with Fisker to produce the VL Destino, they had to agree to replace all of the Fisker Karma badging with unique VL badging as well as designing some aesthetic changes to allow the Corvette-powered Destino to clearly stand out from the electric Karma. This begins along the front where the Destino gets a more aggressive front fascia that looks absolutely nothing like the distinct grille of the Karma along with a new hood that has a more pronounced raised center section that helps make room for the high performance V8 engine. Of course, the Fisker badge has been removed from the nose and the VL logo floats in the middle of the grille opening of the Destino. The headlights and fenders are the same so the basic look of the car is very similar but the Destino front end is a huge difference from the one that comes on the production Karma sedan.

Along the sides, the only noticeable difference is the addition of VL badging and some 22” HRE wheels in either a 5 or 9 spoke design wrapped in high performance rubber but out back, the Destino wears a unique lower fascia that is similar in shape but very different in design from that found on the Karma. The most significant feature of the VL Destino rear end is the addition of the 4 large exhaust tips mounted in the middle of the lower fascia where the powerful Corvette V8 announces it presence.

Inside, the VL Destino features an interior that is very similar in design to the Fisker Karma but VL logos have been added all over along with a heavy dose of real leather in place of the sustainable mnaterials used on the Karma. This adds an extra level of luxury to the Destino but the basic 2+2 layout of the Karma caters to the high end aim of the Destino very well. This sport sedan offers room for four adults with enough trunk space for a reasonable amount of storage – for those who need to pack a bunch of luggage into their Corvette-powered luxury sedan.

The crown jewel of the VL Destino is the drivetrain – where Bob Lutz has pulled some of his old General Motors strings to gain access to the drivetrains of the 2013 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 or the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. The “base package” includes the new LT1 from the 2014 Corvette Stingray with 450 horsepower and 450lb-ft of torque but for the driver who wants a truly remarkable driving experience, the Destino can be fitted with the supercharged LS9 engine from the 2013 Corvette ZR1 with 638 horsepower and 604lb-ft of torque. Regardless of the engine chosen, the power is sent to the rear wheels via the close ratio twin clutch manual transmission from the Corvette ZR1 including the Corvette’s launch control system and a 3.42 rear axle ratio. Those who cannot or do not want to drive a manually shifted model can opt for a 4-speed automatic with the same rear axle ratio but that will surely have a negative impact on performance and economy. Finally, removing the electric drive system including the large battery pack drops the weight of the Destino by over 1,300 pounds compared to the Fisker Karma so on top of the high performance drivetrain; the performance of the Destino is bolstered by the light weight result of the project.

With money troubles rumored to be on the horizon for Fisker, selling Karma sedans to VL could help tide the company over between influxes of investment funding as the start-up automaker continues to work towards profitability. For Lutz, Villereal and those who love the look of the Karma but want better performance – the VL Destino represents another entrant into the high end luxury sport sedan segment for those playboys who want one more automotive toy in their garage.

One more thing added to the Fisker Karma as it is transformed into the VL Destino is an upcharge of around $80k as the Destino starts around $180,000 compared to the $100,000 starting price of the Karma so only those with the deepest of pockets will be rocking out in a Corvette-powered Fisker Karma sporting the Destino name.

Check out our gallery of the VL Destino by clicking any of the thumbnails above on the right from the floor of the 2013 Detroit Auto Show!


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Comments

As much as I find it an interesting, yet strange idea, I understand why someone would want to put more muscles into a Karma. It drives like a dream but it's not a muscle car. The front fascia is not to y taste. Too much early 2000 Corvette and lacks an emotional appeal, especially considering the last Corvette this year.