Back in 2007, I was invited to California to test a very interesting car. The following is my experience with the Fisker Latigo CS V10:
It felt like I was living a life well beyond my means. Here I was, driving on the Pacific Coast Highway in beautiful southern California, right by Laguna Beach in a car worth as much as most people’s houses. The car was the new Fisker Latigo CS V10, and if you have to ask, it was worth over $300,000.
Now if you were to analyze my situation, for a person to be able to afford a car like this, especially in California, where everything is ultra expensive, you have to be seriously rich.
This would mean you’d probably have a $5-million house, all the latest electronic gadgets, plenty of cars to feed your daily needs, and a multi-million dollar income coming in every year. This is the sort of person who would normally be seen driving such a car.
Given the state of my bank balance, I was very much out of place to be driving such an exotic car in such a fantastic setting. But here I was, driving a car that certainly made me feel like a million-bucks, especially thanks to all the attention this car was creating.
Everywhere I went, I could see people looking and pointing at the car. One lady in a Merecedes-Benz pulled up alongside and asked questions about the car. I noticed a police officer giving the car an approving nod, and a perfect California beach blonde on the sidewalk pointed out the car to her boyfriend and their eyes locked onto this projectile as it drove by.
Forgive me if this sounds shallow, but I loved the attention this car was getting and made me realize how lucky I am to be able to do what I do. I love my job.
Enough about my perks, lets talk about the car. Is it all show or does it have the go to go with its looks too?
Before I get to that, let me give you a little insight about Fisker and what makes the basis of this car. As you might know, Fisker Coachbuild is a design firm that in recent years has done projects like designing cars for other auto companies (like the Artega GT shown in Geneva this year) and also designing a wrist watch for Rosendahl. They had also done the Tramonto, their first car (which you read about in an earlier post) which was based on the Merecedes-Benz SL platform.
This new model, the Latigo CS, is based on the BMW M6 (E63). So the process to turn an M6 into a Latigo is this. You go out and buy a new M6 (if you already own one, you are half way there) and then hand over your car to Fisker with a decent deposit.
Once in Fisker’s care, the engine gets lifted out, put in a crate and sent off to RD Sport in Italy. RD Sport breathes heavily on the engine, and turns this 507 hp motor into a 648 hp monster.
While the engine is being tweaked in Italy, the rest of the car gets taken apart to get Fisker-ized. All the body panels come off (very little is left untouched), only to be replaced with this new carbon-fibre body. Yes, I know it isn’t the prettiest car in the world, and I will admit the mouth looks a bit too big, like a kid with braces, but then it needed that to keep that 5.0-liter V10 cool. So think of it as form following function, so while it may not be as pretty as their other car, the Tramonto, I will say the looks do grow on you. Especially in profile, this car is quite stunning. At the back, well it looks like a beefed up Alfa Romeo, but that is no bad thing. I would love to follow this car on a winding road, so I can admire its rear three-quarter view.
More than that, I love being in its wonderful interior. Fisker tastefully modifies the interior, replacing regular leather with Italian furniture leather. The roof gets lined in suede and any plastic surfaces get trimmed in wood or carbon-fibre. This is a very inviting place to be in, and the excellent seats will want you to keep on driving.
So how was the drive? In short, it is seriously fast. In any mode this is a fast car, but in the M-sport setting, it is just staggering. You go through the gears so fast, you cannot believe the speeds you hit in very little time. For those who like their numbers, this is how it performs; 0-100km/h is reached in 3.9 seconds, and top speed is electronically limited to 330 km/h. That is fast enough to get you locked away for a really long time. Thankfully then the brakes are just about the best I have ever come across. They do require a firm foot, but the car does stop on a dot.
However, unlike recent Lamborghini’s, the power does not go through all four wheels. No, the power is fed to only the rear wheels, so if you put your foot down at the wrong time, it will wag its tail. I was just glad the traction and stability control system always kept me in-line. The huge tires on those pretty 20″ rims also provide plenty of grip which will also keep you inline, even when you are taking off-ramps at ridiculous speeds. In short, yes I do like the way it handles, it is much tighter than the Tramonto, which itself is a good handling car.
I also liked the seven-speed sequential gearbox (what BMW calls SMG). You can play with the settings to make the shifts as smooth and relaxed as you want, or in the top sport setting, as hard and fast as in any race car. In the sportiest setting, the shifts are a bit too harsh and will require a lot of practice to make smooth, quick shifts, otherwise you’ll be suffering from whiplash from all the hard changes.
Other changes include louder exhausts, but in honesty, this car still is not as loud as I was expecting it to be. the characteristics of this V10 is a lot softer than say the V10 in a Porsche Carrera GT, but then this is meant to be an ultimate touring car like the Bentley Continental GT and not a single purpose supercar. Plus, if you like loud cars, you’ll be very happy with their other model, the Tramonto.
Depending on how you trim it, the Fisker can easily be the most expensive in this category, and trust me, if you are going to turn your BMW 6-series into a Fisker Latigo CS (yes, Fisker will customize any current 6-series model) you will want to go the whole way.
Comparatively, the Bentley is more usable more of the time, thanks to its silky smooth automatic gearbox and its all-wheel drive system which makes it more usable in climates like ours here in Toronto.
The Aston Martin DB9 (another Henrik Fisker design by the way) is much prettier, makes a far more sensational sound and has a more alluring badge. Plus it is the cheapest in this category.
So where does that leave the Latigo CS? Well it certainly is unique and always will be, Fisker had planned to build 150 examples of the Latigo, but only one prototype and one customer car was ever made, and both cars had slightly different bodywork. So if you find the ones that exist and buy it, you will surely have a very unique car indeed.
Fisker is nowadays busy building plug-in hybrids, but I preferred these coachbuild creations. Would I buy one if I could? What do you think?