Delving into the electric SUV space, Fisker’s latest entrant – the Ocean – is making waves, promising to be an eco-warrior on wheels. Coming from a company that had a bumpy start with the Fisker Karma, we’re keen to uncover whether lessons from the past have culminated in a masterstroke for the future.
Exterior Design and Styling
The Fisker Ocean’s exterior seems to be a medley of modern design conventions. At first glance, the front fascia, boasting super-slim LED lights, integrates a contemporary flavor suitable for today’s SUV blueprint. While this design seems consistent with the latest vehicular trends, some purists might find it lacks a distinct identity, echoing a style that’s prevalent among numerous other electric SUVs.
One design element that does stand apart, though, is the side glass. This uniquely sweeps upwards, culminating in what’s termed a ‘doggy window’ behind the B-pillar. It’s an innovative touch, one not commonly seen. However, its practical value might be limited, and for some, it could come off as a design experiment rather than a functional feature.
The Ocean attempts to balance its stature as an SUV with sporty undertones. A commendable endeavor, but the result leaves one in a bit of limbo – not entirely rugged as traditional SUVs, and not entirely sleek like sportier models. It seems to walk a middle path, which might leave it in no man’s land for those with a clear preference towards either end of the design spectrum.
When you step inside the Fisker Ocean, there’s an evident juxtaposition of innovation and potential oversight. The first impression speaks of elegance, particularly with sustainable fabrics adorning the dash and a sleek metallic strip running its width. These touches convey an environmentally conscious luxury, a theme Fisker heavily emphasizes.
The 17.3-inch touchscreen, central to the Ocean’s dash, is generously sized and almost akin to what Tesla offers in its vehicles. It boasts a unique ‘Hollywood mode’ where it rotates to allow video streaming during charging breaks. While it’s a novel feature, its real-world utility is debatable. Some users might find it excessive, especially if their primary need is navigation and vehicle settings.
A notable omission, and quite a surprising one for a vehicle in this class and price range, is the absence of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Fisker’s explanation revolves around wanting users to first engage with their native system. While the intention is commendable, in today’s interconnected tech environment, this could be a notable drawback for many potential buyers. The promise of potential future updates including these platforms doesn’t entirely assuage the immediate concerns of a consumer wanting seamless smartphone integration.
The ‘California mode’ is another feature that’s sure to turn heads, offering an almost convertible-like experience. However, while it’s a fun inclusion, one might question its practicality in varied weather conditions and climates.
Battery, Range and Charging
Touting a notable 106kWh of usable battery capacity, the Ocean promises a range up to 440 miles on the WLTP cycle. In an industry where range anxiety remains a genuine concern, this is a commendable feat, placing the Ocean in the upper echelons of electric SUVs. However, it’s worth noting that real-world mileage often varies from official figures. In mixed urban, motorway, and country road driving, it seems more realistic to expect between 375-400 miles on a warm day. The deviation isn’t massive, but for those counting every mile, it’s a discrepancy worth noting.
Charging capabilities are a strong point for the Ocean. With DC fast charging of up to 200kW, it sits comfortably with the industry’s best. This means quicker top-ups at stations, making long trips more feasible. However, charging infrastructure, while rapidly growing, is still patchy in many regions. Potential buyers should be aware of their local charging networks and the availability of high-speed chargers.
A noteworthy feature is the sunroof-integrated solar panel. In sun-drenched regions, it’s estimated to provide up to 1,500 miles worth of charge annually. But this feature’s efficiency drops considerably in less sunny climes. In places like the UK, the benefits might be more psychological than practical, serving as a reminder of the vehicle’s green credentials rather than a significant energy booster.
When stacked against the competition, the Ocean’s battery tech seems formidable, especially given its price point. But as with many electric vehicles, the challenges of real-world application versus laboratory results persist. Potential buyers should temper their expectations with the understanding that optimal range and charging times are often influenced by external factors like weather, driving habits, and charging infrastructure
Performance and Handling
From the get-go, the Ocean adopts a simplicity in its operation. Without a traditional start button, you’re seated, shifted, and set to go, a nod to the electric car ethos of minimalism. However, this seamless initiation comes with its quirks. The steering wheel adjustments are tucked away in the central touchscreen, which might be counter-intuitive for some and could raise questions about the practicality of burying such frequently-used controls in a digital interface.
The vehicle offers three driving modes: Earth, Fun, and Hyper. Unfortunately, these modes primarily alter throttle responses and levels of regenerative braking, rather than offering distinctive variations in handling or suspension feel.
Immediate torque, a hallmark of electric vehicles, is present in the Ocean, ensuring that even in its most conservative setting, the SUV feels responsive. However, given its size, the Ocean doesn’t defy physics. It handles like a vehicle of its stature – confident on straight roads but less agile in more dynamic driving scenarios. It’s unlikely to cater to those seeking a sporty drive, and while it isn’t cumbersome, it doesn’t display the nimbleness some smaller electric vehicles offer.
A potential oversight is the absence of adaptive suspension, which means the Ocean’s ride isn’t as customizable to different terrains or preferences as some competitors. This may result in a firmer ride on rougher roads, a factor that prospective buyers should consider, especially in regions with less-than-ideal road conditions.
In the expanding sea of electric SUVs, the Fisker Ocean emerges with an ambitious promise: to blend sustainability with innovation, while catering to the modern driver’s needs. So, does it live up to the hype, or is it simply making waves?
From a sustainability perspective, the Ocean makes an impressive case. With its carbon net-zero plant and an emphasis on eco-friendly materials, Fisker is clearly targeting the environmentally conscious consumer. This commitment is admirable and sets a precedent for other automakers.
Stylistically, the Ocean’s exterior brings a fresh, if not polarizing, design. Its innovative features like the integrated solar panel sunroof stand out, though their practical benefits in less sunny locales might be debatable. The interior, while high-quality and tech-rich, has its missteps, like burying essential controls within the central touchscreen, a choice that may not resonate with all drivers.
The greatest asset and perhaps challenge of the Ocean is its price point. The entry-level models present undeniable value, but as you climb the ladder to the more feature-rich variants, the competition stiffens, and comparisons with established players become inevitable.