Fisker Ocean review: ready to ride the electric SUV wave Reviews 2023 | Top Gear
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First Drive

Fisker Ocean review: ready to ride the electric SUV wave

Published: 07 Aug 2023

Brief? How brief?

Eight minutes. Eight. That’s barely long enough to get through one LCD Soundsystem song.

Fisker invited me down to Huntington Beach, California, to see all its fancy future products, but said if I got there early, I could take the electric Ocean SUV for a spin. I showed up, stood around, talked to event staff, stood around some more, and finally got behind the wheel of the Ocean with just minutes to spare before being ushered inside to see Henrik Fisker’s big show.

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Wow. So what can you tell me?

Now that I’ve been able to see an Ocean in person – aside from the Pacific that was just a few miles away, nyuk nyuk – I think it’s got a lot of presence. Henrik Fisker is clearly a talented designer, and the Ocean is proof. The styling is simple yet handsome, and the midsize SUV has a great stance, especially on its largest 22-inch wheels and 255/45-series Bridgestone all-season tires.

I love little details like the rear side-marker lights that double as turn signals, or how Fisker equips the Ocean with something called California Mode, where one touch of a button rolls down every window and opens the sunroof. I do mean every window, too: the little bits of glass between the C and D pillars disappear into the body, as does the tailgate glass. Maximum airflow. It’s rad.

Which version did you drive?

I had a go in the limited-edition Ocean One, which, sadly, is already sold out. But the One is essentially just a limited-run, first-edition version of the top-end Ocean Extreme, powered by a 113-kilowatt-hour (106kWh usable) battery pack sending power to electric motors at each axle. Total system output is 468hp and 514lb ft of torque, or 564hp and 543lb ft of torque in boost mode, allowing this 5,369-pound SUV to sprint to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds.

Sad trombone alert: Fisker says you can only use boost mode 500 times throughout the vehicle’s life. So go easy on that throttle, ya hear?

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Fisker estimates the Ocean One and Extreme have a total driving range of 360 miles, assuming you spec ‘em with 20-inch wheels. The Ocean can accept DC fast-charging speeds up to 250kW, so you can theoretically go from a 10 per cent to 80 per cent state of charge in about 35 minutes. That’s a relatively long coffee stop, but hey, maybe the service station has good sandwiches, too.

Fisker will also sell the Ocean Ultra, which lowers the dual-motor powertrain's range to 340 miles. On the base end, the Ocean Sport has a single-motor, front-wheel-drive setup, good for 250 miles of range. Obviously, the Sport is the cheapest version of the Ocean, starting right around $40,000.

Okay, eight minutes of driving. Tell me about it.

Like a lot of modern EVs, there’s no start button; you just get in the Ocean, use what looks like the wiper stalk to shift into Drive, and go. Well, first you have to dig into the 17.1-inch central touchscreen to find the steering wheel adjustment controls, but then you’re free to go. Slight learning curve and all that.

There are three driving modes: Earth, Fun, and Hyper, the latter of which is the only way to use boost mode. These settings don’t change things like steering tune or suspension damping, however. They only alter the throttle response and increase or decrease the overall level of regenerative braking. Unable to do a bunch of hard launches for fear of upsetting the two minders Fisker sent along in the car with me, I can’t really tell you if the differences in acceleration between the modes are all that noticeable. Even the slowest EVs still feel quick thanks to instant electric torque. The best thing I can say about the Ocean is that it doesn’t seem like a total porker; even in Earth mode, it’s light on its feet.

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The regenerative braking works smoothly, so that’s good. The suspension also seems appropriately damped for commuting through Orange County, though the steering is super light and pretty much lifeless in terms of feedback. The Ocean doesn’t really feel terribly fun or sporty or lively, but again, this is from less than 10 minutes of driving around a business park in Huntington Beach.

Did the interior seem nice?

Yeah, actually. There aren’t any glaring fit-and-finish issues, and the 17.1-inch touchscreen responds immediately to inputs. The seats are pretty comfy, though I can’t speak to long-haul butt-happiness, and there’s good visibility from the driver’s seat.

Fisker says it’ll constantly push out over-the-air updates to keep its multimedia and driver-assistance tech suites at the top of their game, which is a good thing, since my tester seemed to be unable to stop beeping for one reason or another.

So… you liked it?

I mean, I guess. It’s hard to get a full picture of a car’s good graces from only a few minutes behind the wheel, but I will say, I have a more positive impression of the Ocean after eight minutes than I did after driving Vietnam’s Vinfast VF8 SUV after just as much time behind the wheel. The Ocean Ultra starts around $50,000 and the Extreme bumps that up to about $70,000, and deliveries have already started, with the first examples of Fisker’s SUV built by Austrian firm Magna Steyr.

The Ocean is an important vehicle for Fisker Inc., not just because it’s the company’s first baby, but because it’ll provide the basis for a lot of future products – most notably, the Alaska pickup. Here’s hoping we can get a much longer drive in this very important EV soon.

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