The 2022 Lucid Air Grand Touring dazzles with smart design and inspired engineering
There’s no shortage of tech startups with ambitious plans to build electric vehicles, with varying degrees of hype and flakiness. Lucid Motors is one of those young emerging brands, and while its first product, the 2022 Air luxury sedan, features its fair share of gimmicky and design dazzle, it’s also an impressive example of what can result when tech dweebs and car nerds collaborate.
The Lucid Air debuted as a limited-production Dream Edition, which has since sold out, and is now fleshing out the lineup. We sampled the now top-spec Grand Touring Performance near Lucid’s headquarters in Newark, Calif., and tested the upcoming Grand Touring back home in Michigan. Lower-cost Touring and Pure versions are expected to join the lineup by the end of the year, but for now the $140,500 Grand Touring is the more affordable variant.
For that six-figure outlay, you get a four-door electric sedan with a luxuriously trimmed cabin, 819 horsepower, all-wheel drive, and an EPA-estimated range that’s easily the most generous among electric vehicles. The special sauce is Lucid’s innovative battery (112.0 kWh capacity in the Grand Touring) and its super aerodynamic design, which allows it to reach up to around 516 miles per charge when fitted with the standard wheels of 19 inches. (Optional 21-inch wheels reduce that to 469 miles.) In our 75-mph highway range test, our Grand Touring test car (on 19s) did 410 miles — considerably less than the EPA number. , but still the best result of any EV we’ve ever tested, and the first to go all 400 miles.
The $180,500 Performance Grand Touring wows with 1050 horsepower, but even with its slightly larger 118.0 kWh battery, its EPA range estimate is less than 446 miles. 21-inch wheels fitted with summer tires are standard here, which helps reduce the range, but the extra power potential of the electric motors is also partly to blame.
Charging is fast in both Grand Touring models, and Lucid estimates that on a DC fast-charging connection, 300 miles can be added to the battery in just 21 minutes. When we ran our 10-90% fast charge test on an Air Dream, it took 46 minutes at an average rate of 135kW, the fastest we’ve ever measured. Home charging is naturally slower, but the Air can handle the highest rate of Level 2 charging, 19.2kW, assuming your home is wired to give at that rate, which can add around 75 miles for every hour the car is plugged in.
Both models are powered by a dual electric motor powertrain, and Lucid claims the more powerful Performance version can hit 60 mph in 2.6 seconds. (The slightly more powerful Dream Edition Performance model did just that when we tested it earlier this year.) The 819-hp Grand Touring, meanwhile, hit 60 mph in 3.0 seconds flat on our track. test.
Simply hitting the accelerator pedal brings either Lucid forward without delay, but the performance is noticeably more punchy. A Launch Control feature allows the driver to easily unlock the car’s maximum capability for straight-line performance: first select Sprint mode, then simply hold your left foot on the brake and step on the pedal until until the Blue Bear logo appears on the gauge display. Release the brake and the car hurtles forward with a breath and hardly any wheel spin.
The Air’s handling is refined and borderline athletic. It’s not as sharp as the Porsche Taycan and its width makes it less nimble than an Audi e-tron GT. The 0.82g of grip on the 19-inch all-season tire is also well below these cars, whereas the previous Dream Edition we tested on the summer 21s was 0.92g. But the Grand Touring nonetheless offers a convincing blend of comfort and sportiness. Three drive modes alter the car’s suspension, steering and powertrain to a surprising degree. Smooth mode, the Air’s most comfortable setting, tunes the shocks to soak up as many bumps as possible and limits power to help preserve range. Swift and Sprint modes are where things get more interesting, with the latter unlocking maximum power. The shocks are firmed up in these settings for better handling, and the steering dials a bit heavier as well as a road feel that’s largely absent in the default Smooth mode.
Regardless of setting, the Air’s brake pedal is spongy throughout the initial stroke before firming up as the pads bite into the rotors. Fortunately, the Air’s two regenerative braking modes – Standard and High – are both aggressive enough that drivers can avoid touching the brakes most of the time, although some drivers may wish for a less regenerative braking mode. The Air Grand Touring’s 193-foot stop from 70 mph, however, is a disappointing performance, about 30 feet longer than the Dream equipped with summer tires.
The design of the Air is to a large extent both aesthetic and thoughtful. Front and rear passenger compartments are roomier than expected, and interior materials are both premium and contemporary, with soft nappa leather upholstery and textile-covered dashboard panels. Cleverly located storage bins, including one hidden below the lower infotainment display screen, offer plenty of places to stash smaller items, and the Air’s cargo capacity is adequate thanks to a deep well under the car’s hood and to a wide-mouthed, if somewhat awkwardly accessible, trunk.
Missteps are rare, but they include a wireless charger that can only accommodate an iPhone 13 Pro Max when the phone is inserted uncased and upside down. Similar to the Tesla Model X SUV, the Lucid Air’s windshield runs seamlessly over the roof, creating an unobstructed view for everyone inside. This type of automotive showmanship is sure to impress potential buyers when they first slip behind the wheel, but the wow factor quickly becomes a sweat-on-the-brow factor when the car is sitting in the sun.
To match the Air’s state-of-the-art electric powertrain, Lucid installed an equally impressive infotainment system, but its software is still under development. The 34.0-inch curved screen and on-screen graphics give the interface a high-end feel, but the software sometimes lags and accessing simple features sometimes requires browsing sub-menus. menus. Lucid assures us that improvements are on the way via over-the-air updates and says that up to 17 updates have already been released to customer cars since the Air’s launch. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are on the list to add to the infotainment system but have not yet been activated. The unfinished nature of the infotainment software combined with some body creaks and creaks reminds us that this is an early-build car from an all-new automaker.
Still, as the first EV luxury automotive push, the Lucid Air is an impressive piece with plenty of traits that car enthusiasts and tech enthusiasts alike will appreciate. Lucid, for the most part, avoided the temptation of stunt engineering and instead focused on creating a revolutionary electric car with excellence rooted in performance and efficiency.
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