Alien technology is here.
That was my initial reaction after taking Lucid’s (LCID) Air sedan in my initial test drive, and that feeling stuck with me. The car is a remarkable package that makes it one of the most special cars on sale today — quite simply because it seems to come from someplace other than Earth.
California-based Lucid began making powertrain components and battery packs for the Formula E electric racing series, so its technical chops and race-proven performance credentials are real.
This technology and expertise has trickled down into the model offered for review, the Lucid Air Grand Touring Performance edition, notched right below the top of the Dream edition line, which were the first models that rolled off the assembly line at Lucid’s factory in Casagrande, Arizona.
In Air Grand Touring in Performance trim as tested, the car boasts a rather insane 1,050 hp with an range of 516 miles — higher than any other EV available.
Design principles and the California effect
On first blush the Lucid Air appears impossibly long and low to the ground. Though it looks stretched like a limo — such is the nature of its low-slung body and short roofline — it is no longer than a Mercedes E-class. It’s evocative of a coupe or a Porsche Panamera-style sedan that features a low-profile greenhouse.
Design-wise the Air might not be for everyone, but my test model in Cosmos silver with polished platinum-colored finishes on the roof gave it a refined look.
Its interior is where the Lucid really sets itself apart from competitors like the Tesla Model S.
Lucid has done a phenomenal job with materials and fit and finish. Nappa leather engulfs the cabin, along with a suede-like microfiber material on the dash and ceiling panels. Metal trim splits the dash horizontally and is also featured on the door handles and lower console.
There are no panel gaps anywhere, with everything looking well constructed. Of note is the windshield and roof, which is essentially one big piece of glass, and quite stunning to look at, especially when you notice the sun visors that sit in the middle of the glass, almost floating. Lucid says they are legally required for cars sold in the U.S., but the effect is unique. The cabin is all the more airy due to its unique greenhouse-like design.
A 34-inch widescreen floats across the dash and is integrated nicely with a tablet that sits below in the center console. The widescreen depicts all the information needed for operating the car in crisp, high-res detail, with the tablet serving duty as another method of interacting with infotainment, climate controls, and car performance features. The tablet can also disappear at the push of a button, creating more space (and giving you a party trick for guests).
With Lucid being a California-based company, designers created interior and exterior color and material palettes that evoke or mimic certain parts of California — the Mojave Desert, the Santa Cruz coast, or Lake Tahoe, which was the theme in our test vehicle.
A critique of many EVs is that they all drive the same, with instant torque and brisk acceleration that's more of an on-off switch for power than gradual speed buildup.
This isn't true for the Air, however, which has more modularity. It all really starts with the company's origins as mentioned above: making motors, inverters, and EV-tech for racing.
The liquid-cooled battery system, the “wunderbox” inverter that gives the in-house motors the right amount of electricity, leads to a progressive and sometimes unleashed power to the wheels.
It's a phenomenal package in terms of how it actually gets the power to the ground and the smoothness of the system.
Combined with the car’s adjustable adaptive suspension, the car seems to hover over the ground, soaking up all kinds of cracks and bumps on rough streets. In sport mode, the car stiffens up for more control in tight cornering, but it still has some compliance, without any wallow or push.
With so much tech, I did encounter a few issues. The driver attention camera seemed to disengage from time to time; the lane keep assistance software was a little aggressive; and the car’s auto lock system seemed a bit too sensitive. However Lucid says it is addressing some of these issues with upcoming software updates.
While the Lucid is tuned nicely, it’s still not at the level of Porsche in terms of handling. The Taycan Turbo has a bit more capability, but the Air is pretty close.
But it’s the power delivery of this car that is otherworldly. The power comes on effortlessly, and there’s so much of it that even in the car’s "smooth" mode, the Lucid is passing other cars with ease, absolute ease. It is an incredible feeling how much power is in reserve, but also that it can be delivered smoothly, with the car not bearing down or the hood rising up.
The bottom line is the Lucid Air made me feel a profound sense of where the future is going with EVs, and how automakers can boost efficiency and tread lightly on the environment while giving the driver comfort, luxury, and performance.
Now, the Lucid Air Grand Touring in Performance trim isn’t cheap. The car starts $180,000, though that is the going rate for a Porsche Taycan Turbo S.
The Model S Plaid, essentially the car the Lucid likely benchmarked the Air against, starts at around $130,000 when optioned with full-self driving. Whether the Lucid is worth around $50K more is an interesting question. The Lucid Air in Grand Touring trim does much more range (516 miles) than the Model S (348 miles).
That being said, if you're in the market for that high-end, super performing electric sedan, the Lucid here is an unbelievable package. And if you're looking for a cheaper version of this car, there's the Pure edition which will start around $80,000 and comes well equipped and offers 400 miles of range.
The alien tech is here with the Lucid Air, if you have the cash to spare.