• Auto123 gets in a first drive of the 2023 Lucid Air.
Every fall for the past thirty years, the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) has organized an automotive testing event. The Test Fest gives member journalists the chance to drive a number of vehicles eligible for in the organization's Car and Utility Vehicle of the Year awards.
This year, Test Fest took place at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park near Toronto, where AJAC members had the chance to drive around 60 brand-new vehicles, including a few prototypes.
The big surprise of the event was the appearance of the stunning Lucid Air electric sedan, from American manufacturer Lucid Motors.
The Lucid name doesn’t ring any bells to you? You’re not alone. Lucid is an entirely new U.S. brand that only launched its first model in North America in the last year or so. This beautiful sedan with both aerodynamic and futuristic lines is now being marketed in Canada.
It's worth noting that the Lucid Air was initially introduced in a luxury format. That didn’t impact sales initially, but eventually, sales of the high-priced Air slowed. The company is now introducing less elaborate versions at a reduced price. Hence the two Lucid Air Pure models provided for our Test Fest.
Where does Lucid Motors come from?
Lucid Motors, which originated under the name Atieva, was founded in 2007 by designers and engineers from Mazda and Tesla. The next few months saw the company change its name and establish its headquarters in California. Its true first prototype was unveiled in December 2016 under the name Lucid Air.
Obviously, like any new company of its kind trying to break into the market, Lucid has faced its share of financial challenges. There were even discussions with Ford about getting involved in its financing. Eventually, other investors came forward, Lucid went ahead with production of its Air sedan.
The Lucid Air was initially offered to Canadian consumers last fall, with the first showroom opening in Vancouver. Then it was Toronto's turn to welcome the new manufacturer, and now Lucid also has offices in Montreal.
For those not burdened by budgetary constraints, there's the luxurious Grand Touring, a $191,300 car boasting 800 hp and a range of 830 km.
The second version is the Lucid Air Touring, priced at $131,300. Its power is stated at 620 hp with a range of 653 km.
Finally, there's the Lucid Air Pure, priced at $107,300 and offering 480 horsepower and a range of 653 km. This is the version we had the opportunity to drive.
The exterior styling of this model is, in a word, outstanding. It led me to ponder: how did a simple “start-up” deliver such an impressive design on the first attempt? And how does one set out to compete with legendary names adorning the modern luxury cars already cruising our roads? It took audacity (and precision) to get there.
Clearly, Lucid is targeting Tesla S customers, and from where we sit, it has a great case to make with its Air.
An interior both understated and sumptuous
Lucid paid special attention to the interior finish of its Air Pure model, even though this is the base version. Yes, there are plastic materials, but the choice of these materials is surprising. Without exception, the materials and the fit and finish are of high quality.
The dashboard is also elegantly designed, and one reason for that is at first glance, there is no visible instrumentation. These light up as soon as soon as you take your place behind the wheel (which does contain a few controls, but only a few). The illuminated stuff is encased in a large rectangular screen display in front of the driver, with another screen on the central console giving access to most radio, climate and other controls. Note that most controls also respond to voice commands.
The Air is designed to accommodate five in a well-lit environment with ample headroom. This car was created for long journeys, and based on my initial impressions, it succeeds.
The upholstery boasts elaborate and, above all, impeccable finishing. The seats are very comfortable, even in the rear. And if you're looking for storage space, there's plenty, both inside and under the front hood, as well as in the large rear trunk.
Incidentally, Lucid did not include a sunroof with the Pure version, which does cost over $100,000, let's not forget.
Simple yet powerful technical elements
Obviously, we can’t talk about mechanics here since there is no internal combustion engine or transmission. But there are two electric motors in this car (the Air Pure version is therefore all-wheel drive), and together they provide 623 hp. They’re powered by a 92-kWh battery pack that allows a range of over 600 km.
The brand representative assured me it’s possible to recharge the car to achieve a range of about 450 km in less than half an hour on an ultra-fast charging station.
Interestingly, the multi-link suspension relies on metal springs (I expected air balloons under this car) and advanced Bilstein springs. The tires on our tester were low-profile Pirelli P Zero Elect, sized P245/45R19 both at the front and rear.
As soon as you slip behind the wheel, fob in hand or in pocket, the vehicle comes to life. There is no ignition key, as with some Volvo and Polestar models. You just set it in Drive by lowering the small lever on the steering column. The car will only move when you press the accelerator pedal.
And then you start to notice the quiet ride. In fact you may focus unduly on the noise of the tires on the road, which is noticeable. The condition of the road surface will have a lot to say about the quietness of each ride.
Obviously, the Lucid is fast. Very fast. My initial acceleration attempts got me from a stop to 100 km/h in around 4 seconds, pretty remarkable for a car weighing nearly 5000 lb (the aluminum body helps keep the weight at an almost reasonable level).
60-100 km/h accelerations are as impressive as when you’re starting from scratch. But most remarkable is the sense of control you behind the wheel of this car on winding roads. Yes, the Lucid is wide and long, but it is easily maneuverable. The steering felt very precise to me. Plus, the visibility is impressive.
Moreover, with a battery range of over 600 km, the dreaded “range anxiety” is less likely to rear its head. As the Lucid representative jokingly pointed out to me, here’s an electric car I could use to drive from Montreal to the seaside in Maine without having to stop to recharge along the way.
My half-hour drive in this Lucid ended far too quickly, but I appreciated it. Despite the fact that the AJAC key fob indicated a final price of around $120,000, the same representative corrected it to $109,000. This price may seem high for the average consumer, but compared to the competition (Tesla S, Porsche Taycan, Audi e-tron GT, BMW i7, among others), it becomes relatively “reasonable”.
Those other versions of the Lucid aren’t so “reasonable”, in terms of price but also in terms of some versions offering you over 1,000 hp, and the capability of going from 0-100 km/h in under 2.5 seconds. That’s frankly outrageous. And frankly, this Pure model is what most folks will drive. Our verdict? Driving the Air is an extremely positive experience.
Original content from auto123.]]> 2023-11-30T15:08:13Z dg43tfdfdgfd