Mixes limo luxury with sports saloon vigour, outstanding
Pricey if you want all the power, not in the UK yet
What is it?
It’s a highly powerful electric saloon car from Silicon Valley. The story isn’t new, sure. But the product you’re looking at is new. It’s called the Lucid Air, and it’s here to snap the rug clean from under the wheels of its rivals.
Rivals not strictly limited to Tesla. While the Model S was naturally on Lucid’s radar when it designed the Air, its engineering team actually had another car top of mind during development: the Mercedes S-Class. Yep, not even the electric EQS.
The Air is here to rip the old guard in two, with the big German three limos all potential victims. The Audi A8, BMW 7 Series and benchmark Merc are where Lucid sees itself nabbing new customers from. Which is probably why its headline figure isn’t its 0-60mph time, but its range: up to 516 miles depending on the version you choose. Just like a big ol’ tank o’ diesel used to provide.
That’s in the most expensive version, I guess…
Not so. As we shall explain. A line that Lucid has shamelessly copied from Tesla’s homework is the one about having a discombobulating online configurator. There are no fewer than six different power outputs on offer. Ready?
Prices start at $77,400 for the 424bhp Air Pure, capable of 419 miles of range in single-motor RWD form. Though factor in the $7,500 federal tax credit and it might just slip below the $70k mark – the equivalent of about £50k. Then there's a dual-motor AWD version that exchanges a few of those miles for an extra 50bhp. It costs $5k more.
Next up is the $95,000, 612bhp/425-mile Air Touring, followed by the 808bhp/516-mile Grand Touring, which is expected to be where lots of Lucid buyers head to. Then there's a Grand Touring Performance that belts out 1,036bhp.
Incredibly, that's not even the fast one. That title goes to the $250k Lucid Air Sapphire, which emits a ridiculous 1,217bhp and 1,430lb ft, resulting in 0-60mph in 1.89 seconds and a top speed of 205mph. 427 miles between charges too. Though probably not if you're deploying maximum power. We've done a bespoke review on the Sapphire here, because the headline news is this: it's the best-handling EV anywhere in the world right now.
Crikey! And faster than the Model S Plaid too?
By an entire tenth of a second, yes. Not that that's relevant. If you can sample the Air’s sense-pummelling propulsion without getting an instant headache, you’re made of significantly sterner stuff than us. And as we’re about to find out, Lucid has focused on the right stuff. It’s just reluctantly felt the need to appease people for whom ‘bragging rights’ also need to appear on the options list.
They come as standard if slipperiness is your bag. Among the talented European engineers flown over to California to make the Air drive properly are chassis folk from Aston and Jaguar as well as one Jean-Charles Monnet, Red Bull Racing’s former aerodynamicist. As such, you’re looking at a car with a drag coefficient of 0.20. Which matches the Mercedes EQS, sure. But we’d argue the Lucid Air looks prettier; far more like a traditional three-box sedan, just updated for the EV age. A slinky, range-swelling profile somehow feels like a more impressive achievement here.
On a fast charger you can accrue 300 miles of range in 20 minutes. And if you’re worried about missing out on Tesla’s Supercharger network, then each new Lucid Air comes with three years of free power from Electrify America.
Photography: Jonny Fleetwood
What's the verdict?
Our full and final judgement is reserved for when the Lucid Air makes it to Europe and we get to try a finished car on UK roads. But in its Californian homeland it’s an absolute belter; sharper dynamics and a more homely interior than any Tesla we’ve driven, all built into a car that has the irresistible novelty value of being The Latest Thing. Something no Tesla has arguably boasted since the Model X’s wacky doors knocked our socks off over 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 start of these top-rung cars is gobsmacking, but wholly unnecessary. A car with around 500bhp for under £60k could be what puts Lucid near the top of a lot of EV buyers’ shortlists. Or sneaks it onto those crucial company car forms…