Jonathan Crouch has everything you need to know about the innovative Fisker Ocean.
Ten Second Review
The Fisker Ocean brings a completely fresh perspective to what an upper mid-sized quality EV crossover should be. This fledgling Californian brand has here delivered brilliant value, impressive range, striking looks and some clever design features. It's all very impressive.
We are indeed in a very different automotive era. Take this car, the Fisker Ocean, an upper mid-sized electric crossover created by a Californian start-up company that not only has no dealers but doesn't build cars either. Instead, as industry giant Apple will with its first car, the brand gets others to do that for it. In this case, the chosen factory partner is Magna Steyr in Austria (who regular build cars for Mercedes and BMW). For Fisker's next model, the Pear, it'll be Foxconn, who make many of the world's iPhones.
Fisker buys in all its drivetrains and batteries too, with much shorter development lead times than established makers work to, so buyers get more up-to-date tech. All of which leaves the US company free to concentrate on design, something that, being led by gifted stylist Henrik Fisker (who has the BMW Z8 and the Aston Martin DB9 on his CV), it's well qualified to do. Fisker tried - and failed - to start his own car company a decade ago with the ill-fated Fisker Karma, but the Ocean looks a much better effort, billed as 'the world's most sustainable electric car'. It offers better value, more driving range and more technology than all its main rivals. Who really need to take this car very seriously indeed.
Can an industry start-up like Fisker really deliver drive dynamics to match rival mid-sized EV crossovers from established brands? Well why not? Those established makers haven't set the ride and handling bar particularly high with their first EV efforts after all. And most of their models haven't especially impressed when it comes to driving range, a failing this Ocean model avoids thanks to its fitment of an enormous 106.5kWh battery (113kWh gross) for the mid-range 'Ultra' model (which has 540bhp) and the top 'Extreme' version (which has 556bhp). These offer AWD twin motor powertrains and a 440 mile range. If you don't need that much, there's an entry-level front-driven single motor 'Sport' variant with a 271bhp motor (0-62mph in 7s) paired with a smaller 75kWh battery that takes you 273 miles between charges.
The 'Extreme' version would obviously be your Ocean of choice, not least because it's stunningly fast, making 62mph in just 4.0s, despite carting around about 400kg more weight than its most obvious segment rivals; a penalty you're likely to feel if you start throwing the car around in the kind of manner a typical owner probably never would. It won't help ride quality either. Across the range, there are two main drive modes - 'Earth' (an eco setting) and 'Fun'; the dual motor model has at a further one - 'Hyper', which includes a 'Boost' setting for launch control starts; that gets you to 60 miles an hour in 3.7s.
And driving more mundanely? Well you start the car first by touching the brake pedal, whereupon it defaults to 'Earth' mode to manage range, something you can further do by altering the three provided levels of brake regeneration. On the highway, there's the 'Fisker Intelligent Pilot' semi-autonomous system to do some of the driving for you. Three-figure highway speeds probably won't be possible in the 'Sport' model, which is limited to 100mph, but the bigger-battery versions make it to 127mph.
Design and Build
Henrik Fisker set out here to create an SUV with attitude and you might well think he's succeeded. There are super-slim headlights and even narrower tail lamps - and the side glass sweeps dramatically up from front to rear, culminating in an opening 'doggy window' behind the B-pillar. All the windows can open simultaneously if you activate the so-called 'California Mode', which aims to replicate an open car driving experience by lowering seven of the eight panes in the sunroof-embellished glasshouse, leaving only the windscreen in place. On the top 'Extreme' model, that two-panel sunroof gets 'SolarSky' technology to boost the battery.
It's equally innovative inside the fully-vegan interior (with materials fashioned from reclaimed fishing nets, T-shirts and abandoned rubber). It won't be the plushest cabin you've ever sat in, but everything is well finished, there are clever hidden vents and door speakers and the two high resolution monitors are clear and informative. The central portrait-format infotainment display is a generous 17.1-inches in size and on the top model, via a clever 'Hollywood Mode', can rotate to a landscape position so that you can better stream and watch TV shows and movies, perhaps as you wait for the car to charge.
There's a column-mounted shift selector and separate physical buttons for the climate system. A pull-out tray for the front passenger to work on replaces the glovebox and a smaller tray for snacks folds out from beneath the front centre armrest. Fisker calls it the 'Taco Tray'. Not so good is the way it's so difficult to see where the front corners of the car are from the driver seat, though rearward visibility isn't bad.
Rear passenger space is excellent by the modest standards of the mid-sized EV crossovers this Ocean is priced against. Even in the middle, an adult can slide their feet well forward across the flat floor. If there are are only two of you and you can use the middle armrest, the top model's 'Limo Mode' gives you climate controls embedded into it. The boot's easy to access thanks to the way the tailgate glass can lower for stowing smaller bags. If you raise the powered tailgate, 476-litres opens up of nice flat space, with a low loading lip and plenty of room for the charging leads beneath the floor. Fold the rear seat forward and there's 918-litres of room available.
Market and Model
If you weren't convinced by this Ocean model's styling and dynamic attributes, you might well be by the prices Fisker wants to charge for it. The launch price of around £36,000 for the entry-level single motor 'Sport' model is stunning value for a near-4.8m long luxury EV - the kind of money you'd easily pay for an EV supermini. Even the bigger battery AWD models look good value; around £50,000 for the mid-range 'Ultra' version and about £61,000 for the 'Extreme' flagship derivative. Fisker's promising some attractive leasing deals too. The idea behind these is that the company owns the car for its whole life, leasing it to different owners at lower prices as time progresses, before eventually recycling it in its entirety.
All Oceans are extremely well equipped. Across the range, you get three drive modes - 'Earth', 'Fun' and 'Hyper' - and a 17.1-inch central touchscreen. Plus a digital rear view mirror, a power liftgate and the Fisker Premium Sound system. The 'Sport' model gets a 'BigSky' glass roof too. The mid-range 'Ultra' version gains the 'California Mode' that opens all the windows at the touch of a button; plus includes an enhanced 'OpenSky' roof. Finally, the top 'Extreme' version has the ultimate 'Fisker Plus Audio System powered by ELS Studio 3D' hi-fi set-up. And also gains the clever solar sky roof which charges the battery. It has a 'Hollywood Mode' which revolves the central touchscreen to a landscape format. Plus a 'Boost Mode' and a smart traction system. There's also front and rear heated seats; and a 'Limo Mode' which allows rear seat passengers to control the audio system's volume and adjust heating and air conditioning.
Cost of Ownership
We gave you the driving range figures in our 'Driving' section - 440 miles for the dual motor 106.5kWh models and 273 miles for the base 75kWh single motor 'Sport' version. To get near to these readings, you'll have to make frequent use of the most frugal 'Earth' driving mode and often activate the fiercest of the three provided settings for the brake regeneration system. The base 75kWh model claims a WLTP efficiency figure of 3.65 miles per kWh.
With the bigger nickel-manganese-cobalt battery fitted, we would expect around 375-400 miles on a warm day: add a bit of urban driving and it'll be further still. In 'Ultra' or 'Extreme' models, Fisker reckons you could travel from London to Glasgow on a single charge. The brand hasn't invested in the kind of 800V architecture that would enable this car to use the coming generation of ultra-rapid public chargers but it's 400V system can charge at up to 200kW from DC public charge points. The charging time for the bigger battery is 35 minutes from 10 to 80% at a DC rapid charger. A full charge at a 7.4kW garage wall box will take around 18 hours.
If you choose an 'Extreme' variant with the 'SolarSky' roof fitted, the company claims you can add between 1500 and 2000 miles of electric range over a year's usage - though that estimate might be based on a rather sunnier climate than ours.
Almost anyone, it seems, can start a car company these days, but not anyone can make it work as Fisker has here. The Ocean is an astonishingly good first effort from this Californian start-up brand, priced at a level to embarrass its more established competitors. It's an upper mid-sized luxury EV crossover for the price of an unremarkably-equipped compact one.
It's styled aggressively too and offers driving range figures that might redefine your expectations on how far a car like this can go between charges. Of course, there's the unknown quantity in buying or leasing from a fledgling brand. But we'd be inclined to take a risk on a Fisker. This one's that good.