Marc UrbanoCar and Driver
- We recently tested the most powerful variant in the Lucid Air lineup, the $170,500 Air Dream Performance Edition that makes 1111 horsepower.
- In a straight line it’s quicker than any EV except the Tesla Model S Plaid, shooting through the quarter-mile in 10.1 seconds at 142 mph.
- The Air also showed its top-end prowess by outrunning every EV we’ve tested with a 173-mph peak speed.
Those of us who strap into every car to extract the best performance numbers often remark that the cars at the very pointy end of the performance spectrum tend to require the least driver skill to achieve the blistering straight-line times. That’s certainly true of Lucid’s 1111-hp flagship, the Air Dream Performance Edition we tested recently, where you simply select its most aggressive Sprint drive mode and then hold down both pedals to activate launch control.
We intended to try the various stability-control modes to see if perhaps a little more wheelspin at launch might help, but the launch control, indicated by the grizzly bear from the California state flag popping up in the gauge cluster waving a checkered flag—one of many nods to the state in which Lucid’s headquarters resides—only appears when the stability control is in its fully on setting. Running without launch control was about a half-second slower in the quarter-mile. The Air clawed its way from a dead stop to the highest speed we’ve ever seen in an EV, 173 mph, in four consistent runs. Sixty mph arrives in 2.6 seconds and the quarter-mile in 10.1 seconds at 142 mph.
While that’s comfortably off the pace of the Tesla Model S Plaid, which ran a 9.4-second quarter-mile, it’s quicker than every other EV, including the 10.5-second Porsche Taycan Turbo S. It also matches the 1320-foot sprint of the original four-digit-horsepower car, the Bugatti Veyron.
It’s also noteworthy how secure and stable the Air felt at its maximum velocity, especially considering how prone to wandering the Model S Plaid is at its 162-mph peak. The Air has several interesting aerodynamic elements—from a slight curvature to the underside of its battery pack to the passages through the hood—that aid both its impressively low 0.21 coefficient of drag as well as high-speed stability. It also contributes to the Air’s whisper-quiet 63-decibel sound-level reading when cruising at 70 mph, which is quieter than both a Taycan and a Model S Performance that we tested at the same venue.
We did experience one aerodynamic bugaboo with the Lucid, however, when it flung a half-dozen of the plastic wheel inserts high into the air up near its top speed. Perhaps those inserts weren’t properly seated following a wheel-and-tire changeout, but having three out of four wheels misassembled seems unlikely.
The Lucid wears Pirelli P Zero PZ4 ELECT tires developed specifically for the Air, a new variant and the first we’ve seen with an “HL” prefix. That stands for high load, and is a tire Pirelli says is designed to support the extra weight that EVs carry. Pirelli says this tire can carry 6 to 9 percent more weight than an equivalent extra-load tire. But it’s pretty clear that efficiency was a priority—enabling the Air’s Tesla-beating range figures—because the Air can’t corner or brake with either the Porsche Taycan Turbo S, which also wears P Zero PZ4 ELECT tires, or the Model S Plaid on Michelin Pilot Sport 4Ss. The Air hung on for 0.92 g on the skidpad, versus 0.99 for the Taycan and a whopping 1.08 g for the Plaid. Erasing 70 mph takes the Air 163 feet and shedding 100 mph requires 326 feet, in both cases slightly longer than what the highest-performance Taycan and Model S can do.
While we appreciate the Air’s two reduced stability-control settings, and its most-off mode enables mega drifts, the handling balance is resolute understeer. And with an open rear differential, adding power midcorner at even moderate speeds doesn’t balance it out like we’d hope a car with so much power at the rear could. Here’s to hoping that Lucid builds a variant with two rear motors, a configuration that Lucid says the rear subframe was designed to accommodate, which would have a theoretical horsepower figure approaching 2000 (if the battery could keep up), and would have a real shot at one-upping the Plaid.
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