Lucid Air: luxury sedan with electric drive put to the test

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The Californian start-up's 900-volt electric car makes a convincing start

Lucid Air: luxury sedan with electric drive put to the test-lucid

This sunny Saturday in October is a big day for Lucid: The new electric limousine called Air is finally being delivered to its first customers. Company boss Peter Rawlinson talks to me for a few minutes.

The 63-year-old was once Tesla's chief engineer, but has taken a completely different path than his former employer. Part of his unusual biography is that he was once chief engineer at Lotus. His Lotus Elan Series III from 1967 he calls a reference in terms of steering feel. You don't get that anymore, says Rawlinson.

Image gallery: Lucid Air (2022)

Lucid Air: luxury sedan with electric drive put to the test-lucid

Range topper in a double sense

The prices for the Lucid Air start at a downright moderate $ 74,400, or around 66,000 euros. The Dream Edition offered at the start is a range topper in a double sense: with a price of 169,000 dollars (150,000 euros) it is the top model, and with 520 kilometers EPA range (that's almost 840 km), it's not just the Air with the longest range, but currently the electric car with the longest range at all.

The drives of the Air range from the rear-wheel drive base model Pure with 480 hp (353 kW) up to the 1,111 hp (817 kW) of the all-wheel drive Air Dream Edition Performance. The EPA ranges are between 353 and 837 kilometers. As if that weren't enough of a good thing, Lucid also promises charging capacities of up to 300 kW. It should be able to recharge electricity for 300 miles (480 km) in 20 minutes.

Air Dream Edition:
Over 1,000 PS, over 800 km range, 300 kW charging power

Lucid is also proud of the packaging. The electric motors with up to 670 hp (492 kW) are particularly small. The Touring and Pure versions also have a smaller battery, which allows even more legroom. With 200 liters, the Frunk is currently the largest on the market [until the Ford F-150 Lightning starts, which offers 400 liters, translator's note]. There is also over 450 liters of storage space in the rear trunk. There is no real tailgate like there is on a hatchback, but the opening is very large.

Airy interior

There is a similar amount of monitor space in the interior as in the Tesla Model S or Mercedes EQS. The Air has a few physical buttons in addition to the 34-inch display. There are two rotating wheels on the steering wheel and a roller in the middle of the cockpit. According to Rawlinson, they should convey a feeling of mechanical precision like a Swiss watch – probably a feeling like when winding a Rolex or Patek Philippe.

Lucid Air: luxury sedan with electric drive put to the test-drive

Rollers on the steering wheel and in the middle of the cockpit

The interior appears calm and airy. The windshield extends over the front seats. And at the back, a glass roof makes the interior look even more spacious than it is:

The sun visors are attached directly to the windshield and seem to float in the room. Amusing detail: the lights for the make-up mirror in the sun visors are battery-operated; you have to replace the batteries every three years – well, you have to make this small sacrifice for the visually interesting feature:

The cockpit has a clean, contemporary look. The starting version has a nappa leather interior, later there will also be other variants, including those with eucalyptus, walnut and oak.

There is no "On / Off" button for the system start in the Lucid Air, nor is there an automatic selector lever: The driving modes P, N, R and D are activated via the touchscreen. Steering assistance and the responsiveness of the accelerator pedal cannot be adjusted, but you can choose between low and high levels of recuperation.

A sprint like a super athlete

If you ride the Air relaxed, you wouldn’t think it would be possible to have over 1,000 horsepower under the hood. Because performance develops smoothly and predictably. But if you press the gas pedal all the way, the Air shoots forward. The strongest Air only needs around 2.5 seconds for the sprint to 100 km / h, and that with a weight of 2.4 tons. The sprint from 100 to 200 km / h only takes about 4.8 seconds – these are values ​​of a super athlete.

When I wanted to test the sprint, I asked my co-driver to take a video of it, but the acceleration was so hard that he dropped his smartphone twice in a row. It should be possible to repeat the process several times without much weakening.

Our 160 km test drive included a stage on a major interstate and some nice bends on Skyline Boulevard [State Route 35 through the Santa Cruz Mountains south of San Francisco, editor's note. Transl.]. The Air feels nimble on the highway: It moves with ease, the chassis looks like air suspension is installed (although it is only electronically controlled dampers).

In panic braking, however, the brake pedal travel felt very long; the effect came suddenly at the end. Lucid attributed this to the pre-production version of the vehicle. The same should apply to a sudden deterioration in driving characteristics on a particularly rough stretch of road. Otherwise the handling was impeccable.

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Despite its size, the Air made a good dance partner on winding back roads. The feedback is not as good as with a Lotus, but the steering feel is such that you involuntarily drive faster than with most other sedans – especially the electric ones.

In eco mode, handling is soft and spongy; in sport mode the air becomes tighter, but not excessively harsh. With more gas, the Air shoots ahead and goes into the corners without grumbling. If you take it easy, it turns into a good-natured cruiser with which the kilometers just fly by.

Promising start – despite the problems

The quirks of the tested pre-series model branch out which difficulties the Lucid engineers had to overcome on the way to series production. But now series production has started in Casa Grande, Arizona, and up to 20,000 Lucid Airs could be delivered by the end of the year.

As a typical perfectionist, Rawlinson sees the turning wheels in the cockpit as work in progress: They are already pretty good, but not quite finished, according to the Lucid boss. This attitude suits an automaker that has a long way to go after a promising start.

[The American original For reasons of readability, our partner site Motor1 USA was transferred very freely, in some cases shortened and the content supplemented elsewhere, note d. Translator.]

Lucid Air Dream Edition 2022

engine 2 electric motors (PSM)

power 817 kW

Max. Torque 1,390 Nm

drive all wheel drive

Acceleration 0-60 mph 2.5 sec.

battery 118 kWh

Electric range 837 km (US EPA standard)

Charging port 300 kW DC

length 4,975 mm

broad 1,939 mm

height 1,410 mm

Trunk volume 202 liters at the front (Frunk), 456 liters at the rear

Base price 169,000 dollars (approx. 150,000 euros)

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