Lucid Air Dream Performance is the fastest EV except the Model S Plaid
Marc UrbanoCar and driver
- We recently tested the most powerful variant in the Lucid Air line, the $170,500 Air Dream Performance Edition which develops 1111 horsepower.
- In a straight line, it’s faster than any electric vehicle except the Tesla Model S Plaid, completing the quarter mile in 10.1 seconds at 142 mph.
- The Air also showed off its high-end prowess by topping every EV we tested with a top speed of 173mph.
Those of us who cleave to each car to extract the best performance figures often notice that the cars at the more pointed end of the performance spectrum tend to require the least amount of driver skill to hit the times in stunning straight lines. That’s certainly the case with Lucid’s 1111bhp flagship, the Air Dream Performance Edition that we tested recently, where you simply select its most aggressive Sprint ride mode, then hold both pedals down to activate the control. launch.
We intended to try the different stability control modes to see if maybe a little more wheel spin at launch would help, but launch control, indicated by the grizzly bear in the state flag of California appearing in the gauge cluster waving a checkered flag – one of many nods to the state in which Lucid’s headquarters reside – only appears when stability control is fully engaged. Running without launch control was about a half second slower in the quarter mile. The Air blasted its way from a dead stop to the fastest speed we’ve ever seen in an EV, 173mph, 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 clocked a 9.4-second quarter mile, it’s faster than all other EVs, including the 10.5-speed Porsche Taycan Turbo S. seconds. It also matches the 1,320-foot sprint of the original four-figure car, the Bugatti Veyron.
It’s also worth noting how safe and stable the Air felt at its top speed, especially considering the Model S Plaid’s tendency to wander at its peak of 162 mph. The Air has several interesting aerodynamic elements – from a slight curvature below its battery to the passages through the hood – which contribute to both its incredibly low drag coefficient of 0.21 and its stability at high speeds. It also contributes to the Air’s quiet 63-decibel sound level reading when cruising at 70 mph, which is quieter than a Taycan and Model S Performance we tested in the same location.
We did experience an aero bugaboo with the Lucid, however, when it threw half a dozen plastic wheel inserts high into the air near its top speed. Maybe those inserts weren’t properly installed after a wheel and tire change, but having three out of four wheels put together incorrectly 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. This means a high load and, according to Pirelli, a tire is designed to support the additional weight that electric vehicles carry. Pirelli claims that this tire can support 6-9% more weight than an equivalent tire with extra load. But it’s pretty clear that efficiency was a priority – allowing the range numbers to beat the Air’s Tesla – because the Air can’t corner or brake with the Porsche Taycan Turbo S, which also wears tires. P Zero PZ4 ELECT, or the Model S Plaid on Michelin Pilot Sport 4S. The Air hung out at 0.92g on the skid, compared to 0.99 for the Taycan and a whopping 1.08g for the Plaid. Clearing 70 mph takes the Air 163 feet and losing 100 mph requires 326 feet, in both cases slightly longer than the most capable Taycan and Model S can do.
While we appreciate the Air’s two reduced stability control settings and its most off mode allows for mega drifts, the handling balance is resolute understeer. And with an open rear differential, adding mid-corner power at even moderate speeds doesn’t balance it out the way we’d hope a car with that much rear power can. Here’s hoping Lucid builds a variant with dual rear motors, a setup Lucid says the rear subframe was designed for, that would have a theoretical horsepower approaching 2000 (if the battery could keep up), and have a real hit at a -uping the Plaid.
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