Lucid Air review


What is?

It’s a very powerful electric sedan from Silicon Valley. The story is not new, of course. But the product you are looking at it is New. It’s called the Lucid Air, and it’s here to pull the rug out from under the wheels of its rivals.

The rivals are not strictly limited to Tesla. While the Model S was naturally on Lucid’s radar when he designed the Air, his engineering team actually had another car in mind during development: the Mercedes S-Class. Yup, not even the electric EQS.

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The Air is there to split the old guard in two, with the three big German limousines as possible victims. The Audi A8, BMW 7 Series and Merc benchmark is where Lucid sees himself attracting new customers. That’s probably why his signature figure isn’t his 0-60 mph time, but his range: up to 520 miles depending on which version he chooses. Like a large diesel tank used for supply.

It’s on the more expensive version, I guess…

Okay, yes. One line that Lucid shamelessly copied from Tesla’s assignment is that of having a perplexing online configurator. At launch, no less than five different powers are offered. Ready?

Prices start at $77,400 for the 480-hp Air Pure, capable of a 406-mile range, though when you factor in the $7,500 federal tax credit, it could drop below $70,000, the equivalent of around £50,000.

Next up is the $95,000, 620-hp/406-mile Air Tour, followed by the $139,000, 800-hp/516-mile Grand Touring, which should be the go-to for many discerning buyers. All but the Pure are equipped with two motors and therefore all-wheel drive.

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Do you want to spend as much money as possible on your propulsion problems? Then you need the Launch Edition, although Lucid didn’t dare to call it something so prosaic. The gold car being sought here is the Dream Edition, and while it’s technically out of stock, you might be able to sneak it into a build slot if you nicely request it on your Grand Touring order form. Prices start at $169,000 (around £125,000) and you have two options; the Dream Edition R or the Dream Edition P, depending on whether you want to focus on autonomy or performance. The R (tested here) brings peaks of 933 hp and 520 miles, the P with 1,111 hp and 471 miles. Not to mention a 0-60 mph time of 2.5 seconds.

Isn’t that slower than a Model S Plaid?

Yes, but that too is totally irrelevant. If you can savor 2.5 seconds of air sensory propulsion without getting an instant headache, you’re made of much tougher stuff than we are. And as we’re about to find out, Lucid focused on the good stuff. It was only reluctantly that she felt the need to appease people for whom “bragging rights” should also be on the list of options.

They come standard if your bag is slippery. Among the talented European engineers sent to California to get the Air working properly are chassis specialists from Aston and Jaguar, as well as one Jean-Charles Monnet, the former Red Bull Racing aerodynamicist. As such, you’re looking at a car with a drag coefficient of 0.20. Which corresponds to the Mercedes EQS, of course. But we’d say the Lucid Air is prettier; much more like a traditional three-box sedan, freshly updated for the EV era. A range- and body-hugging profile looks like a most impressive achievement here.

With a fast charger, you can rack up 300 miles of range in 20 minutes. And if you’re worried about missing out on Tesla’s Supercharger network, every new Lucid Air comes with three years of free power from Electrify America.

The photograph: Jonny Fleetwood

What’s the verdict?

Lucid’s first production car draws an indelible line in the sand for electric cars. Great performance, even greater range

Our full and final judgment is reserved for when Lucid Air arrives in Europe and we can test a finished car on UK roads. But in his homeland of California, he’s an absolute belt; sharper dynamics and a friendlier interior than any Tesla we’ve ever driven, all wrapped up in a car that has the compelling novelty value of being the latest. Something Tesla possibly hasn’t boasted about since the Model X’s wacky doors brought us down more than five years ago.

What we’re most intrigued to try is a more “common” Lucid Air Pure or Touring. The power output and launch control pull of these top-tier launch cars are mind-boggling, but completely unnecessary. A car with around 500hp for under £60,000 could be the thing that puts Lucid high on the list of EV buyers. Or put it on those crucial company car forms…

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