Founded in 2007, with its first vehicle beginning development in 2014, Lucid Motors is still a young company amongst the automotive giants it competes with. However, this youth gives the California-based automaker a competitive edge. It may not have decades of experience like some of its rivals, but it isn’t carrying old bad habits either. It arrived on time, too, as the full-size luxury sedan segment feels more homogenized than ever, with many of its entrants delivering similar features and driving experiences.
The Lucid Air Grand Touring I’ve been driving this week is my first drive in any of the carmaker’s products. But having recently tested the latest BMW i7 and Mercedes-AMG EQS, I’ve got a good grip on what the established players are up to. And after a few hundred miles behind the wheel, it’s clear that the GT is first a truly unique full-size luxury sedan and second an 819 horsepower EV with up to 516 miles of range.
Forget about its powertrain; you’re left with a proper Mercedes-Benz S-Class competitor. Add that it’s about as agile as a BMW M5 and as quick off the line as a Ferrari 458 Italia, and you’re left with something extraordinary. Oh, and this isn’t even the quickest GT. But like any first-gen product, it’s not perfect.
|Output||819 Horsepower / 885 Pound-Feet|
|0-60 MPH||3.0 Seconds|
|Range||516 Miles (19 Inch Wheels) / 469 Miles (21 Inch Wheels)|
Full-Size Luxury In A Mid-Size Body
The Lucid Air Grand Touring looks like nothing else, largely thanks to its unique construction and clever packaging. At 195.9 inches long, 76.2 in wide, and 55.4 in tall with a 116.5-in wheelbase, the GT is about the same size as a Mercedes-Benz EQE, the German carmaker’s mid-size electrified sedan. Despite its smaller footprint, the Air offers passenger and cargo capacities similar to the full-size EQS. This is due in large part to its tiny electric motors. The GT has two, one in each axle, which fit inside a carry-on bag.
Its powertrain’s small components mean there’s plenty of room left over for passengers and storage. Thus while the GT’s trunk may be about the same size as the EQS’ at 22.1 cubic feet, it also offers a frunk with an additional 10 cu ft totaling 32.1 cu ft, whereas both the EQS and the BMW i7 do not. Speaking of the i7, that’s a whopping 16.3-in longer and 5.4-in taller than the Air, yet it offers similar head, leg, and shoulder room with a smaller trunk out back. This is why packaging is vital for EVs, given their use of sizable battery packs.
Numbers aside, the Lucid Air’s styling really works for me. It isn’t overdone in a “look at me” way, yet it manages to garner attention wherever it goes. It has relatively small front and rear overhangs, focusing mainly on the passenger compartment between the wheels. By bringing most of its weight inboard, the GT achieves a perfect 50/50 weight distribution, which, thanks to the battery pack in its floor, keeps the pounds down low as well.
Above all else, the Air is sleek. Its door handles retract into its bodywork, and with a clamshell-style design for its front and rear storage compartment, there are few shut lines throughout its exterior. Its front and rear lighting elements are simple, employing a wide lightbar as their signature feature. Add a low and wide stance, and the Lucid has plenty of presence without shouting about it.
However, the GT’s best design element has to be its enormous windows. They allow plenty of light to permeate the cabin while providing excellent visibility. Aside from yielding an airy feeling, they make the Air’s interior appear even roomier.
Eager To Dance
One of the fears I often hear about electric cars is that they won’t be as engaging to drive as their gas-powered counterparts, and I couldn’t disagree more. Most quick sedans today are heavily turbocharged, offer only automatic transmissions, and are already plenty hefty without batteries. So in terms of engagement, we’re mostly left with engine sound, which needs to be piped in, thanks to the ample use of sound deadening. Thus the leap to an entirely silent driving experience isn’t as jarring as expected. Plus, the Lucid Air GT is anything but dull to drive.
This GT is not the Performance model, meaning it only produces 819 hp and 885 pound-feet of torque. Its upgraded sibling pumps out a whopping 1050 hp and 921 lb-ft of torque, and remember, the Sapphire is on its way with even more power. I, for one, would be more than happy with the base GT. It’ll still sprint to 60 mph in around three seconds and has more power than I’ll ever need on a track or a windy road. Thanks to its two permanent magnet electric motors, the GT comes standard with all-wheel drive.
That said, it is lugging around a 112.0-kilowatt- hour battery pack, which explains why it weighs 5,203 pounds. Despite this, the Air hides its heft well. While the GT offers three drive modes: Smooth, Swift, and Sprint, it doesn’t count on a complicated air suspension system. Instead, it employs steel springs and active dampers, which, thanks to their tuning, are fun on a back road but still plenty comfortable around town.
While I know this is an all-out luxury sedan, we must discuss how it tackles a twisty road because it’s startling. Many cars in this segment attempt to balance luxury and sportiness, but few nail it like the GT. Throw it into a bend at speed, and it remains flat and composed with plenty of grip. The Air accomplishes this in part thanks to its brake-based torque vectoring system. Its hefty curb weight vanishes as the Air puts its power down without understeer. Think of it like an electric Nissan GT-R. You simply turn the wheel, and it follows without a fuzz.
While the GT delivers plenty of g-forces during its swift launch and cornering, its electric power steering system doesn’t transmit much feedback. You’ll hear the front lose grip before you feel it. Still, its braking system is hydraulic, which delivers plenty of information through the pedal. Like the Performance, the standard GT counts on six-piston brakes upfront with steel 15 in rotors, four-piston calipers out back, and 14.8 in discs. These are the Air’s weakest performance link. While talkative, they don’t have enough bite for a 5,203-lb sedan that accelerates and corners this quickly.
To help its stoppers along, the Lucid Air employs an always-on regenerative braking system. It offers two modes: Standard and High, but no off setting, meaning that regardless of drive mode, you’ll start to slow down as soon as you lift off the accelerator. While the Air doesn’t offer the flexibility to disable it, I got used to it in about a day. And up on a twisty road at speed, you’ll be glad for the additional stopping force.
Around town, I spent most of my time in the GT with its regenerative brakes set to High, leaving little use for its calipers. The system’s calibration is seamless, smooth, and easy to modulate. Its low learning curve means you won’t be jolted back and forth when coming to a simple stop while counting on just the go pedal.
Clever Luxury Innovations
Inside, the Lucid Air GT feels nothing like a young company’s first product. Everything you touch, look at, and interact with feels well-made. There are no unusual rattles or physical imperfections to report. This cabin feels like what you’d expect to get from a $155,650 luxury sedan. It’s also nearly silent at highway speeds. However, its layout is totally unique.
My tester featured the two-tone Tahoe interior option, which combines dark blue leather upfront with tan seats in the rear. It also sprinkles tan accents throughout, like on its seat stitching and floors. While this combination may read a bit strange on paper, it’s excellent in the real world and yet another example of Lucid thinking out of the box. In such an executive-friendly segment like the one the Air competes in, they could’ve gotten away with a black or brown leather cabin, but where’s the fun in that?
That said, the seats themselves don’t quite stack up to the BMW i7’s Rolls-Royce-like chairs. They’re not quite as plush or cozy around town but make up for it with excellent side bolstering. While they’re not proper buckets but sportier than a traditional luxury sedan seat.
The Lucid Air GT has no physical buttons inside. Instead, you rely on a combination of screens for all its functions. While this is a great space-saving solution, it’s the only part of the GT I just couldn’t gel with. Because there is no feedback from a button haptic or otherwise, it’s difficult to confirm that you’ve selected something without looking. And since even functions like opening its charge point rely on these controls, you’ll constantly look on either side of its wheel to confirm you’ve selected the right thing.
Its infotainment system itself is excellent and easy to navigate. I especially dig how easily you can swipe maps or music controls from its 34-in curved main display to its vertical folding screen in its center console. However, I can’t ignore its lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, which have become an industry standard. These are expected to arrive in the future but are not yet available.
Also, on the tech side, I did experience a couple of hiccups during my time with the GT. The first was an overly sensitive parking sensor that beeped when nothing was around. And the second was its trunk, which indicated that it was opening while I was on the highway. Thankfully, it was a faulty message but it still required a quick trip to the emergency lane. Glitches are expected in young products like the Air but are still worth noting.
Battery And Range
The Lucid Air Grand Touring features a 112.0 kWh battery pack with a 900-volt electrical architecture. This allows it to charge at up to 300 kilowatts, delivering up to 516 miles of range when equipped with 19-in wheels. Opt for the larger 21s like my tester, and that range figure decreases to 469 miles. However, regardless of trim, the GT has more than enough range. It’s now officially on par with a gas-powered equivalent, and while it may not charge as quickly as a fill-up, its enormous battery pack eliminates range anxiety completely.
The 2023 Lucid Air Grand Touring costs $139,650, including a $1,650 destination charge. My tester and its optional extras, like its $2,000 21-in Aero Blade wheels, $10,000 DreamDrive Pro driver-assist system, and $4,000 Surreal Sound Pro sound system, come in at $155,650. For context, the similarly equipped BMW i7 I tested a few weeks ago came in at $151,995, while the Mercedes-AMG EQS I drove at the beginning of the year stickered for $165,020.
It is worth mentioning that both the BMW and the AMG offer less power, a shorter range, smaller cabins, and less cargo space. The Lucid Air GT may be priced similarly to its closest competitors, but its value proposition is much stronger.
The Lucid Air Grand Touring is a clear example of how starting fresh can yield a truly innovative product. Its driving experience is more engaging and athletic than its German rivals on a twisty road while retaining comparable comfort levels in city streets. And with up to 516 miles of range, the GT eliminates range anxiety. It’s weird to say about an 819-hp sedan, but it’s more than quick enough. I see no reason I’d spring for the Performance other than bragging rights.
That said, as impressive as the Lucid Air GT is, it’s not perfect. Its lack of Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connectivity is a bummer, especially when smartphone-based systems are not only preferred by owners but also an industry standard. And while my tester has likely seen tough press miles, it had a few tech glitches.
However, I’d be willing to look past its first-gen foibles because of how strong a package it is. Lucid is still a relatively young company, but its first product is good enough to disrupt a segment that, in many ways, has begun to rest on its laurels, and buyers are all the better for it.