Wednesday, August 10, 2022

2022 Lucid Air Dream Edition Performance dethrones Tesla

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Tesla has been bested, and not just in one way but in nearly all of them with one car: the Lucid Air. It’s the first car from Lucid Motors, and out the gate it’s a slap in the face to Musk and Co.

With the most range of any production electric car, the most power, the highest power charging capabilities, a comfortable interior, and a stunning design, the Lucid Air might not have been named Motor Authority Best Car To Buy 2022, but know it nearly won. It came down to the Lucid and Rivian R1T, with the pickup truck barely eeking the win.

After spending time poking, prodding, driving, charging, and studying the Lucid Air, here’s the good and the bad.

2022 Lucid Air

2022 Lucid Air

2022 Lucid Air

Hit: Actual fast charging

Every electric car has fast-charging capability, but I haven’t experienced anything like the Lucid Air’s ability to recoup energy quickly. With its 900-volt architecture, the Air can recharge its battery pack at a rate of 20 miles per minute, or up to 300 miles in 20 minutes. I witnessed my tester hit a peak charge rate of 294 kw and recover 299 miles of range in 29 minutes on a 350-kw Electrify America charger. That was slightly off the promised claim, but the battery hadn’t been fully pre-conditioned to take an optimal charge. When it got to a 68% percent state of charge, the Air was still pulling electricity at a rate of 112 kw. The Air’s fast charging rate makes it easier to live with whenever charging is needed outside the home.

2022 Lucid Air

2022 Lucid Air

Miss: Is this luxurious?

The Lucid Air cabin looks and feels modern. My pre-production test car was well screwed together and felt solid, but it represents new luxury, or the next-generation of luxury without the traditional trappings of luxury. Instead it uses alpaca wool blended with recycled plastic bottles, suede, wood, and glass on the dashboard, door panels, pillars, and roof for a chic look. The design and materials create a minimalistic feel that’s more in line with what Volvo’s doing. For someone who is used to old-world luxury like that of Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the Air’s interior might seem stark or underwhelming.

Lucid Air Dream Edition

Lucid Air Dream Edition

Hit: Not a one-trick-pony

The Lucid Air can’t sprint from 0-60 mph in 1.9 seconds like the Tesla Model S Plaid, but it can do the deed in 2.5 seconds on an unprepped surface, according to Lucid. Lucid doesn’t provide a dizzying array of settings or drive modes, just three: Smooth, Swift, and Sprint. The former two deliver “just” 784 hp. while the latter cranks it to 1,111 hp in the Dream Edition Performance model. Yes, it’s quick, but it’s not neck-snapping oh-my-lord what just happened quick.

Beyond acceleration, the Air is dynamically well sorted. The brakes shame the Mercedes-Benz EQS with their linearity and smooth pedal travel. Unlike the EQS, Lucid doesn’t blend regenerative and friction braking. The adaptive dampers sport a firm tune, yet the ride isn’t harsh. Think more along the lines of old BMW and less current Mercedes-Benz S-Class. It adds up to a cohesive, refined package.

2022 Lucid Air

2022 Lucid Air

2022 Lucid Air

2022 Lucid Air

2022 Lucid Air

2022 Lucid Air

2022 Lucid Air

2022 Lucid Air

Miss: Lag and missing features

My test car was a pre-production unit, and not all of the features were enabled, including the Dream Drive semi-autonomous driver-assist system that is expected to be full-range adaptive cruise control with steering assist and future feature updates. A Lucid rep said it will continue to expand its feature set via over the air updates. However, the touchscreen interface on my pre-production test car suffered some lag, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto aren’t part of the initial package. Lucid said both will come to the cars via an over-the-air update, but no timeline’s been given. For now, owners won’t have any smartphone integration beyond Bluetooth. We look forward to getting behind the wheel of a production-spec car to experience the updated software.

2022 Lucid Air

2022 Lucid Air

2022 Lucid Air

2022 Lucid Air

2022 Lucid Air

2022 Lucid Air

Hit: It’s gorgeous

Inside and out the Lucid air looks like nothing else on the road. It’s stunning with a long dash-to-axle ratio, a long hood, and a short rear end with slim LED lighting elements. Its sleek design is only amplified by its low roofline. The rear end lifts as a clamshell to reveal a large aperture, an extremely low liftover height, and a fairly spacious 16.1 cubic-foot trunk. The interior features only the necessary hard controls, including a volume knob, a turn signal stalk, a gear selector, and steering wheel buttons. Drivers aim the vents via integral knobs rather than through a touchscreen like in a Rivian or Tesla. The curved 34-inch screen that houses the digital gauge cluster, vehicle controls, and media system seems to just float off the low dashboard. It’s futuristic but grounded in the real world of usability and functionality.

2022 Lucid Air

2022 Lucid Air

Miss: Form (slightly) over function

That gorgeous design, particularly the low roofline, affects getting in and out of the Air. Drivers and passengers need to duck down as they get into the car, a problem that’s only worse in the second row. Once in the back seat, passengers have plenty of headroom (more than in the rear of the EQS) and the seats are comfortable, but low seat bottoms team with a high footwell (caused by the battery pack) to create a knees-up seating position that hurts long-trim comfort. The rear footwells of Future Airs with less range will be about two inches deeper, which will improve comfort.

The Air, in its current form, is extremely expensive. It costs a premium to be first, but those who have the means will get a car that bests Tesla in terms of range, efficiency, and design. It gets extra points for a real steering wheel, too.

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2022 Lucid Air Dream Edition Performance

Base price: $78,900, including destination
Price as tested: $170,500
Powertrain: 1,111 hp, dual-motor, rear-wheel drive
EPA fuel economy: 451 miles of EPA-rated range, 110/111/111 MPGe
The hits: Stunning design, fast, efficient, grown-up features, cohesive package
The misses: Is this luxury? It’s really expensive, laggy interface, missing features as tested



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