2023 Lucid Air Touring First Drive Review: This Is The Way
When I drove the range-topping, limited-run Lucid Air Dream Edition last year, I was enamored by the car but skeptical of how the lower-end models would feel. The Air’s appeal lay in its luxurious design and fantastic performance – would it still be as good without four-digit power and fancy accouterments? I needn’t have worried, as the new mid-range Touring trim distills all of the Air’s goodness into an easier-to-swallow price.
The Air Touring’s dual motors put out 620 horsepower and 885 pound-feet of torque, 199 hp down from the Grand Touring but matching it in twist. (The Grand Touring Performance trim has 1,050 hp and 921 lb-ft.) The Touring comes standard with launch control, easily activated when in Sprint mode by pressing your feet on both pedals and then releasing the brake. An icon of a blue bear waving a flag indicates when the car is ready to launch, a nod to Lucid’s new Sapphire performance model.
|Quick Stats||2023 Lucid Air Touring|
|Motors:||Dual Permanent Magnet Motors|
|Output:||620 Horsepower / 885 Pound-Feet|
|0-60 MPH:||3.4 Seconds|
|EV Range:||384 Miles (w/20-in wheels)|
|Trim Base Price:||$109,050|
Gallery: 2023 Lucid Air Touring: First Drive
Lucid says the Touring will hit 60 mph in 3.4 seconds, matching the Mercedes-AMG EQS and beating the Porsche Taycan GTS by a tenth of a second. The Air GT and GT Performance are four-tenths and eight-tenths of a second quicker, respectively, but the Touring is still plenty rapid. Acceleration at highway speeds and from corner exits is where the Air’s powertrain really shines; floor it at 50 mph and the Air surges towards triple digits, always with immediacy and no reduction of force as speeds increase. Lucid also doesn’t use any artificial sounds or noise enhancements, with the electric motors producing loud whirrs that sound fabulous.
The Touring’s battery pack is smaller, making 92.0 kilowatt-hours instead of 112.0 kWh like in the Grand Touring, and its 425-mile max range is 91 miles shy of the more expensive trim. The Touring also has slower charging capabilities – up to 250 kilowatts instead of 300 kW – but that still is good enough to gain 200 miles of range in 15 minutes. Lucid says the Touring has the best energy efficiency of any Air model, and its 0.20 drag coefficient is the lowest of any car you can buy in the US.
Crucial to the Air Touring’s goodness is the chassis hardware, which is all identical to what you get in a Grand Touring Performance. There’s no air suspension, rear-wheel steering, active anti-roll bars or any other fancy tech, and honestly the Air doesn’t need it. Ride quality is supple even over rough asphalt, with minimal dive and body roll. The electronic power steering was benchmarked against the Porsche 911 GT3, and it’s super precise with the perfect amount of weight and a surprising level of feedback.
The Touring I’m driving is equipped with the standard 20-inch wheels fitted with Michelin Pilot Sport EV tires, sized 245/40 up front and 265/40 in the rear. (The Touring is also available with 19-inch wheels designed for better range or extra-cost 21-inch wheels with Pirelli P Zero PZ4s.) Even when pushing hard in corners the tires never squeal, only making the occasional whoosh under load, and I’m never left wanting for more grip. The Touring is around 250 pounds lighter than the Grand Touring, and it feels more nimble.
Crucial to the Air Touring’s goodness is the chassis hardware, which is all identical to what you get in a Grand Touring Performance.
Only one part of the Touring’s exterior design differs from the other Air models – a good thing, because the Air’s gorgeous style is just as impactful a few years after its debut. The Touring is the first variant of the Air to come standard with a metal roof, providing more headroom and less heat in the cabin, though you can option the tinted panoramic glass roof back in for $4,500.
Personally I adore the pano roof, especially with the windshield that flows into the roof panel, but as it has no sunshade I get why others hate it. The metal roof comes finished in body color, and I think the Air needs the contrasting Platinum finish of the roof to really make the most of the design. There’s a new Stealth appearance pack that darkens all the exterior trim for $6,000, and while it’s not my thing it does look sinister.
Aside from using slightly lower-end materials on some surfaces, the Air Touring’s cabin looks identical to the upper trims as well. The interior mixes a couple different types of leather with alpaca wool, aluminum, and real wood trim, and build quality seems improved over earlier Air models. Lucid smartly removed the unwanted battery cells from the rear footwells and floor, resulting in a much more comfortable rear-seat experience. The bench cushion isn’t as angled and the floor is lower and more spacious, so occupants’ knees no longer sit awkwardly high in the air.
While I didn’t experience any input lag or software glitches in my day with the Air, the infotainment system does have plenty of annoyances. Beautiful as the curved 34-inch upper screen looks, the size of the right-hand touchscreen section is too small and the aspect ratio is strange, especially for viewing the navigation map. The large lower screen controls climate, vehicle settings and other frequently used functions, though I wish it was even more utilized.
You can swipe down on the lower screen for a full view of the map or a music app, but you can’t mix and match – for instance, if nav is on the top screen, you can’t scroll Spotify on the lower screen. There’s no way to customize the controls on the lower screen or look at a favorites menu, and a lot of features are buried in the system. I wish the gauge cluster was also more configurable, and Lucid still doesn’t offer Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.
The Air’s available driver-assist tech also lags behind the competition. Every Touring has features like adaptive cruise control, automated emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, parking assist and cross-traffic alert, all of which work just fine. But the $10,000 DreamDrive Pro package adds highway steering assist and lane-centering that are overly sensitive and cancel out with even the smallest correction I make, and hands-free driving is not yet offered.
The Pro pack also adds a surround-view camera system and a camera in each side mirror that displays a blind-spot view when you signal, and the camera quality isn’t great. Like with the infotainment annoyances, these features could be improved via over-the-air updates, and the Pro pack comes with 32 sensors and other hardware that make the car ready for future autonomous tech.
Lucid has already begun deliveries of the Air Touring, which starts at $109,050 including a $1,650 destination charge – that’s $30,600 less than the Air Grand Touring, and it doesn’t feel like a downgrade. The Touring is also about the same price as a Taycan 4S or EQS450 4Matic, not to mention thousands cheaper than the performance versions of those competitors, and it comes standard with items that are relegated to options packages by the Germans. Despite its teething issues, the Lucid Air Touring is a seriously great luxury sedan that’s a delight to drive.
2023 Lucid Air Touring
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