Highs: Ultra-modern and continuous, sleek design, unparalleled comfort, plethora of tech, ludicrous performance
Lows: 21-inch wheels generate prevalent road noise on imperfect roads, lack of interior buttons for most controls can be distracting
Things are buzzing in today’s electric vehicle (EV) marketplace. It’s now commonplace for both start up and established EV companies to boast of previously unheard of performance figures and ever-increasing driving ranges on a regular basis. It is highly uncommon, however, for an electric automaker to manage to produce a production-ready vehicle that both delivers on promises and excites a broad range of drivers. Lucid Motors is one of those rare occurrences in the EV market with its Air sedan. The Air is rare: it is one the few exciting EV concepts that has both made it to production and exceeded expectations upon arrival.
We had an opportunity to test the Lucid Air Dream Edition Performance and the experience was almost too good to be true. It offered a literally breath-taking 1,111 horsepower, nearly 500 miles of range on a single charge, a 20-minute charging time for 300 miles, and the largest front trunk of any electric vehicle. To truly understand how spectacular this EV truly is, one has to also understand where it came from.
What sets Lucid apart from competing EV startups such as Faraday Future and Nikola and enables its spectacular specs is the company’s background with batteries and technology. Before Lucid was Lucid, it was Atieva. This innovative battery technology provider powered numerous Formula E vehicles and achieved a phenomenal 0% failure rate in doing so. This means zero mechanical failures or crashes in Formula E were caused by an Atieva battery. Lucid applied this technology to the Air road car and brought Formula E performance to a production vehicle.
While these specifications are far ahead of the competition, there’s more to the Air Dream Edition than what meets the eye.
Coefficient of drag: 0.21; exterior design: otherworldly
Traditional performance automakers such as BMW and Mercedes have a critical design choice to make at the outset. Do they develop an EV that blends in with their existing gas-powered vehicles, or do they stray from the rest to create something innovative? Most have opted for the former while Lucid has taken a far different route with the design of the Air Dream Edition. This vehicle had no gas-powered counterparts to borrow design elements from, freeing up Lucid to embrace the lack of cooling-related styling cues. This prominent focus on a clean, flowing design has paid off with an extremely slippery coefficient of drag of merely 0.21, making it one of the most aerodynamic EVs in the market.
The design also achieves a futuristic, uninterrupted exterior appearance. The Air Dream Edition easily pulls off a wide, menacing front fascia, a look I have always been fond of. The truly unique front end also incorporates fully functional vents to guide air down the hood and two sets of six LED headlights paired with a single Lucid-branded metal strip. The result is the most minacious look of any EV on the market.
The appearance is further enhanced by 21-inch, forged “Aero Dream” wheels exclusive to the Dream Edition. The wheels, apart from being one of the most attractive sets I’ve seen in some time, are shaped to maneuver air along the side of the vehicle and assist the car’s top-tier aerodynamics. Side and hood vents combine with a classy, low profile spoiler to complete the avant-garde side profile while a rear light bar highlights the clean back end.
Many vehicles today have a significant amount of jagged lines in an attempt to create an aggressive design. Lucid has done the opposite to shape a vehicle that looks like no other, begging the question: who said electric vehicles can’t be attractive?
An interior fit for a king
The opulent design of the Lucid Air Dream Edition flows effortlessly from the exterior to the ultra-modern cabin. Comfort isn’t a dream, it is the Air’s specialty. Nappa leather covers the vast majority of this electric super sedan’s interior acreage, including the massaging seats and center console. Elements that aren’t covered in high quality leather such as back side of the seats and the glove compartment are done up in recycled textiles while the headliner boasts rich alcantara.
The Air Dream Edition also surpasses its competition with the sheer amount of interior space in relation to its exterior size. Lucid has managed to create a vehicle shorter in length than a BMW M5 that still has massive interior dimensions similar to a BMW M760i. Front and rear headroom are in surplus. My six-foot-self had no issue fitting comfortably in both the front and rear while enjoying multiple inches of extra head room. The same can be said with all 45.4 inches (front) and 37.4 inches (rear) of legroom. I was more than comfortable during my test drive in the front and the additional time I spent in the rear.
Touchscreen “tablets” have become the norm for infotainment systems in many high end vehicles. These are included to offer touch sensitivity for many functions similar to what one would find on a tablet or phone. But are they easy to navigate, especially when a driver is sitting on top of 1,111 horsepower? The Lucid Air Dream Edition possesses not one, but two touchscreen displays. While I will admit I am a purist and prefer buttons over touchscreens, I found both the 34-inch, 5K floating display above the dash and iPad-sized screen near the center console to be integrated nicely and provide relatively uncomplicated use. That said, some drivers may find it challenging to navigate the many menus without taking their eyes off of the road. Physical buttons positioned above the lower screen are indeed included for the air conditioning fan speed and temperature.
The Air Dream’s cabin is hard to beat and proves the Air to be on par with its competition.
Hypercar performance for sports car money
Calling the Lucid Air Dream “fast” is an understatement. This 1,111-horsepower super sedan can launch itself to 60 miles per hour from a standstill in a mere 2.5 seconds, and will continue to accelerate all the way to its limited top speed of 168 mph. Pre-production testing without the limiter in place revealed a top speed of over 230 miles per hour making the Air Dream Edition one of a handful of vehicles that can reach this speed. The Air Dream Edition uses two 163-pound, near-20,000-RPM motors that are small enough to fit in a suitcase to achieve these astonishing figures. Both can produce up to 670 horsepower and generate a combined output of over 1,000 lb/ft of instantly-available torque.
The Lucid Air Dream Edition sends all of its horsepower and torque to all four wheels regardless of the driving mode via a single speed fixed gear and, boy, does it get up and go!
Our performance test utilized a strip of highway near Lucid’s Newark headquarters where we engaged Sprint mode to unleash all 1,100+ horsepower. This Air had no problem thrusting us back in our seats as it reached nearly triple digit speeds in less than a couple of seconds. The Air Dream Edition is the fastest car we’ve tested to date; the hype surrounding this vehicle’s extreme acceleration is real!
At home on the road
Size matters. It is often a determining factor in a vehicle’s handling characteristics. The Lucid Air Dream Edition is nearly a full-size sedan yet weighs more than 100 pounds less than a Tesla Model S Plaid and 520 pounds less than a BMW M760i. One of the most obvious benefits of the lighter weight is quite responsive steering.
The Dream Edition Performance comes in three modes: Smooth, Swift, and Sprint. All three of these modes deliver a smooth, enjoyable driving ability that improves as you move up from one to another. The feel of the steering wheel gets stiffer and more agile by the time you’re in Sprint mode, making handling ideal for California’s winding roads.
Passengers have just as good of a time as the driver in the Air Dream Edition. Its suspension is plush and perfectly adapted for most roads without feeling like a cruise ship through curving ones. Unfortunately, while the 21-inch rims on our test vehicle helped overall responsiveness, they also created disruptive road noise that couldn’t be hidden as it often can by the roar of a gas-powered engine.
The bigger the better
Practicality means something different in a $169,000 EV than it does for a $30K commuter car. In the case of large four-door luxury rides like the Air Dream Edition, practicality is defined at least in part by “how much” and “how far.” No matter how beautiful the car is, one must have ample usable cargo room and enough range to drive a meaningful distance without anxiety. The Air Dream Edition excels in both making it one of the most practical luxury EVs on the market today.
Our Air was a large car with even larger storage compartments. The trunk up front is the most sizable of any electric vehicle, according to Lucid. It makes use of a two-level design allowing for two isolated sectors or a single one over three times the size of that in the Tesla Model S Plaid. The rear trunk adds more than ample room, bringing the total volume to a whopping 26.1 cubic feet.
You’ll be able to tote whatever you choose into the cargo area over long distances because “range anxiety” is no more. The Air Dream Edition Performance can achieve a range of up to 471 miles — more than enough to get you from Los Angeles to San Francisco on a single charge. Charging time is just as significant too, with 300 miles of range being able to accumulate in as fast as 20 minutes. That figure is well above Tesla’s Supercharger!
Everything you’ve ever wanted, and more
The Lucid Air Dream is quite simply one of, if not the, greatest electric sedans ever built. Its stunning real-world performance, comfort, and styling are on par with virtually any performance sedan as well. There is little to complain about outside of road noise and my preference for physical function controls rather than touchscreen navigation.
The Air also has a considerably better chance to outlast other electric vehicles over 10 years time given Lucid’s highly successful battery production background. This should eliminate concern about premature battery failure.
At $169,000 before options, the Air Dream Edition Performance doesn’t come cheap. It’s expensive, but worth every penny.
Special thanks to Bryce Nash and Alex Salaices of Lucid Motors for coordinating my visit to Lucid’s headquarters. I’m immensely thankful for getting this opportunity and it couldn’t have happened without their help.
All photos by Mason Bloom