There is no shortage of tech startups with ambitious EV plans, with varying levels of hype. Lucid Motors is one of these emerging young brands, and while its first product, the 2022 Air luxury sedan, boasts quite a few gadgets and dazzling designs, it’s also an impressive example of how technology can be used when What happens when a dwarf and a car nerd team up.
The Lucid Air, which debuted as a limited-production Dream Edition, is now sold out and is now filling out the lineup. We sampled the now top-spec Grand Touring Performance near Lucid’s headquarters in Newark, California, and tested the next run-down Grand Touring in its home state of Michigan. Lower-cost Touring and Pure trims will join the lineup before the end of the year, but the $140,500 Grand Touring is currently the most affordable model.
For that six-figure spend, you get a four-door EV sedan with a luxuriously trimmed cabin, 819 horsepower, all-wheel drive, and an EPA-estimated driving range that’s the most generous of any EV. What makes it special is Lucid’s innovative battery pack (112.0 kWh in the Grand Touring) and its ultra-aerodynamic design, which can travel about 516 miles per charge when equipped with standard 19-inch wheels. (Optional 21-inch wheels cut that to 469 miles.) On our 75-mph highway range test, our Grand Touring test car (19 seconds) ran 410 miles—well below the EPA figure , but still the best result we’ve ever tested for an EV, and the first to hit 400 miles.
The $180,500 Grand Touring Performance has 1050 horsepower, but even with the slightly larger 118.0 kWh battery pack, its EPA range estimate is less than 446 miles. 21-inch wheels with summer tires are standard here, which helps keep the range down, but the extra power potential of the electric motor is also partly to blame.
Both Grand Touring models charge quickly, with Lucid estimating that it can add 300 miles to the battery in just 21 minutes on a DC fast-charging connection. When we fast-charged the Air Dream from 10% to 90%, it took 46 minutes at an average rate of 135 kW, the fastest we’ve measured. Naturally, home charging is slower, but the Air can accept Level 2 charging at a top rate of 19.2 kW, and assuming your house charges at that rate, the car can add about 75 miles per hour plugged in.
Both models are powered by dual electric motor powertrains, with Lucid claiming the more powerful performance version can hit 60 mph in 2.6 seconds. (The slightly more powerful Dream Edition Performance model did exactly that when we tested it earlier this year.) Meanwhile, the 819-horsepower Grand Touring hit 60 mph in 3.0 seconds on our test track. .
With a flick of the gas pedal, the Lucid moves forward without delay, but with significantly more power. Launch Control makes it easy for the driver to unlock the car’s maximum straight-line performance: first select Sprint mode, then put the left foot on the brake and press the pedal until the iconic blue bear logo appears on the instrument display. Release the brakes and the car sped past with little wheel slip.
The Air’s road demeanor is elegant and almost sporty. It’s not as sharp as the Porsche Taycan, and its width makes it feel less nimble than the Audi e-tron GT. The 19-inch All-Season Series tires also have far less grip at 0.82 grams than these cars, compared to 0.92 grams on the previous Dream Edition we tested in the summer of the ’21s. But the Grand Touring still offers the perfect combination of comfort and sport. Three driving modes alter the car’s suspension, steering and powertrain to a surprising degree. Smooth mode, the Air’s most comfortable setting, sets the dampers to soak up as many bumps as possible and limits horsepower to help maintain range. Things get more interesting with Swift and Sprint modes, the latter unlocking maximum horsepower. The dampers are beefed up in these settings for better handling, the steering wheel is a bit heavier, and there’s basically no road feel in the default smooth mode.
Regardless of the setting, the Air’s brake pedal felt floppy for the initial stroke, then stiffened as the pads bit into the rotors. Fortunately, the Air’s two regenerative braking modes—Standard and High—are aggressive enough so drivers can avoid engaging the brakes most of the time, although some drivers may welcome the less regenerative coasting mode. Still, the Air Grand Touring’s 193-foot stop from 70 mph was a disappointment, about 30 feet longer than the Dream with summer tires.
The Air’s design is largely aesthetic and thoughtful. Front and rear passenger compartments are roomier than expected, and interior materials are both premium and modern, with soft nappa leather upholstery and a fabric-covered dash. Cleverly positioned storage compartments, including one hidden under the lower infotainment display, offer plenty of room for smaller items, and are a bit unwieldy thanks to a deep well and a wide opening under the car’s hood , Air’s cargo capacity is also sufficient, trunk.
Mistakes are few, but they include a wireless charging pad that will only hold the iPhone 13 Pro Max when the phone is plugged in without a case and upside down. Similar to the Tesla Model X SUV, the Lucid Air’s windshield runs non-stop above the roof, creating an expansive view for everyone in the vehicle. This type of vehicle presentation is sure to impress potential buyers the first time they slip behind the wheel, but the wow factor quickly turns to the sweat factor when the car sits in the sun.
Unfinished infotainment system
To match the Air’s cutting-edge electric powertrain, Lucid has installed an equally impressive infotainment system, but its software is still in development. The curved 34.0-inch display and on-screen graphics give the interface a high-end look, but the software sometimes lags, and accessing simple functions sometimes requires wading through submenus. Lucid assured us that the enhancements are being made via over-the-air updates, saying that since the Air’s launch, as many as 17 updates have been rolled out to customer cars. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto have been added to the list of infotainment systems, but not yet enabled. The unfinished nature of the infotainment software plus some body squeaks and squeaks reminds us that this is an early-build car from an all-new automaker.
Still, as the first foray into a luxury electric car, the Lucid Air is an impressive piece, with many features that car enthusiasts and tech enthusiasts will appreciate. For the most part, Lucid avoided the lure of stunt engineering, focusing instead on creating a breakthrough electric vehicle with superior performance and efficiency.
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