With deliveries kicking off in the USA in September 2023 at a staggering $249k starting price, the 2023 Lucid Air Sapphire is a new electric super-sedan at the apex of the Air range. It promises to kick the Tesla Model S Plaid off its perch as the reigning electric performance-car king. With 1,234 horsepower on tap, it outdoes the Tesla by more than 200 hp, but after Tesla's recent price cuts, it's also nearly three times as expensive as a Plaid. At this rarified level of four-digit horsepower figures, an extra 200 hp is what it takes to give the Lucid Air Sapphire a 0-60 sprint just 0.1 seconds quicker than the Plaid, but there's a heck of a lot more than just extra performance to justify its eye-watering price tag. We've lamented in previous reviews how the Air simply doesn't offer the luxury cabin other premium performance EVs such as the Mercedes-AMG EQS, Audi RS e-tron GT, and Porsche Taycan Turbo S do, so besides its bespoke tri-motor powertrain, does the Sapphire do enough to redress the balance?
The brand-new Lucid Air Sapphire slots in at the top of the Air lineup as the flagship luxury and performance trim. The Sapphire comes with a unique tri-motor setup that develops 1,234 hp and 1,430 lb-ft of torque, enabling full rear torque vectoring. The rest of the car is set up to make the best use of the power on tap. To this end, it comes with an enhanced chassis with a lower ride height, uprated spring rates, specially calibrated adaptive dampers, retuned bushings, stabilizer bars, and steering software, 16.5-inch carbon-ceramic brake rotors gripped by ten-piston calipers, and special staggered 20/21-inch center-lock alloy wheels fitted with specially formulated Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires. It gets aero tweaks as well, including removable aero wheel covers, in addition to an aluminum roof to save weight and lower the center of gravity.
The price of the new Lucid Air Sapphire is $249,000 - $160k more than a Model S Plaid and $55k more than a Taycan Turbo S. This price is MSRP and does not include the destination charge, which will cost you an additional $1,500.
There's just a single Sapphire trim, and at a price of a quarter of a million dollars, it comes in one configuration with everything fitted and no options. You don't even get to choose the color, as all Sapphires are painted Sapphire Blue.
The Sapphire has all the features of the lowlier Airs, but gets a unique interior theme and loses the glass roof to lower its weight and improve its center of gravity.
Stepping inside the Air Sapphire is stepping into the future. The cabin still boasts a shipload of digital displays as it does in other Airs, with the 34-inch floating Glass Cockpit and retractable auxiliary lower touchscreen taking center stage, but with customized graphics for the Sapphire. Blue is the central theme, with Sapphire Blue used for the contrast stitching and screen imagery. Thankfully, Lucid has not gone all digital, retaining a few buttons on the dashboard for oft-used features such as the HVAC system. There are buttons on the steering wheel, too. Talking about quality, Lucid uses high-end materials, including woods and leathers, with tasteful metallic finishes, but we've found ill-fitting interior parts and trim creaks in previous Airs, so we're hoping Lucid can do better with the Sapphire, considering how expensive it is.
Despite the 5-inch-odd ground clearance, the seating position is not as low as you'd expect due to the under-floor battery. Access is easy through wide-opening doors. Interior space is plentiful, helped by a lengthy 116.5-inch wheelbase, but seeing out of the cabin can be tricky due to thick A-pillars and a shallow rear screen. This is mitigated by parking sensors, surround-view and blind-spot cameras, and automated parking.
The front seats have more bolstering than those in regular Airs, and they feature 18-way power adjustment, heating, ventilation, and massaging functions. There's enough space to spread out in, and the front cabin is very roomy. Even the second row offers good space, and although the legroom figures aren't at Mercedes EQS levels, it feels spacious thanks to the rear cabin's completely flat floor and an accommodating rear bench that will even seat a center passenger in commendable comfort. There's an inch less rear legroom than in Airs with smaller batteries, though, as the extended-range battery eats up some second-row space.
Trunk space is a particular highlight of the Air, and although it has a conventional trunk lid and not a practical hatch liftback like a Tesla Model S, the SUV-like 22.1 cu-ft of trunk volume comes as a genuine surprise and runs the Tesla's 25 cu-ft close. The big clamshell trunk lid opens wider and lower than most sedans, providing a large opening through which to load stuff. It takes all the taillights with it, exposing repeater lights in the sill to warn traffic when the trunk is open. The 60/40-split rear seat folds to increase luggage space, but Lucid doesn't provide a figure for the total space. Lucid says the Air was designed to accommodate three motors from the start, so none of the Sapphire's under-floor hardware impinges on passenger or cargo space. When it comes to frunk space in the nose, nothing comes close to the 10 cu-ft available in the Sapphire; its frunk is more than three times the size of the Tesla's.
Cabin storage is abundant and goes way beyond the glovebox and spacious door pockets in all four doors. The Pilot Panel infotainment screen retracts to reveal a huge storage bin underneath the floating center console. An additional large compartment and two cupholders hide under a sliding cover, while the usual lidded under-elbow storage bin is there, too, with a split level to help you organize your bits and bobs. The rear passengers get front seatback pockets, a center-console storage bin below their HVAC controls, and cupholders in their fold-down center armrest.
|Lucid Air Sapphire||Porsche Taycan Turbo||Tesla Model S Plaid|
|39.5 in. front|
38.3 in. rear
|TBA||39.7 in. front |
38.1 in. rear
|45.4 in. front|
36.6 in. rear
|TBA||42.4 in. front |
35.5 in. rear
|Trunk Space (Trunk+frunk)|
|21.1 ft³ + 10 ft³||12.9 ft³ + 2.9 ft³||25 ft³ + 3.1 ft³|
The interior colors revolve around the single Sapphire Mojave interior theme, with a combination of leather and Alcantara covering the seats and Sapphire Blue contrast stitching. Imperial Blue is the US's racing color, while the piercing blue Benitoite is the state gem of California, Lucid's home, and these have served as the inspiration for the Sapphire's name, and for the Sapphire Blue hue used for the interior accents and infotainment graphics. Lucid says, "blue means go" - and go the Sapphire most certainly does. The rest of the interior is dressed in grayscale tones and gray wood. The bear is the symbol of California and also appears throughout the interior, such as on the headrests. The steering wheel is trimmed in Microsuede.
Lucid is rather vague about what is standard in each trim, but on the top-of-the-range Sapphire, everything but the kitchen sink is included. The upholstery is in leather and Alcantara, and the front seats are heated and ventilated while also incorporating a massaging function. You get features such as keyless go and automatic climate control, but other Airs' panoramic glass roof is not included, as the Sapphire has a lightweight aluminum roof.
The in-house Lucid User Experience infotainment system incorporates Lucid's 5K 34-inch Glass Cockpit Display, with the digital gauge cluster ahead of the driver and the infotainment and navigation information on the right. Below it is the retractable Pilot Panel that houses expanded climate controls, audio functions, and navigation. You can also set up the car through Lucid's smartphone app and transfer your settings to the car. The infotainment isn't fully featured yet and still lacks Android Auto, but the automaker has promised to eventually add it as an over-the-air update. Wireless Apple CarPlay is standard on the Air range. The audio system is an excellent Surreal Sound Pro setup with 21 speakers driven by an 800-W amplifier and boasts the first automotive integration of Dolby Atmos in the world. Navigation is fitted as standard.
|Leather and suede upholstery|
|Heated/ventilated/massaging power front seats|
|34" Glass Cockpit Display with navigation|
|Wireless Apple CarPlay|
|21-speaker audio system|
Performance is best-in-class, with a sprint to 60 in 1.89 seconds on a specially prepped surface and a top speed of 205 mph.
Performance is what this car is all about, and the three electric motors in the Lucid Air Sapphire produce an astonishing 1,234 hp and 1,430 lb-ft of torque combined. The two separate rear motors drive the rear wheels individually and make true torque vectoring possible. With an additional front motor driving the front axle, all-wheel drive is, naturally, standard. Lucid's own in-house developed electric motors are especially compact, and each incorporates its own integrated drivetrain using a single-speed transmission. All of this is said to give the Lucid Air Sapphire a 0-60 sprint of just 1.89 seconds, but this requires a specially prepped drag-strip surface and will likely be impossible to achieve on a normal road, just like Tesla's 1.99-second claim for the Plaid. The Sapphire's claimed top speed is 205 mph.
The next-down Grand Touring trim impresses with its stonking acceleration but feels its weight and pushes the nose in fast corners, while the brakes don't have the measure of its straight-line pace either. It's not meant for the circuit and is a quiet and smooth-riding executive express instead. The Sapphire is a totally different kettle of fish. It transmits noticeably more feel through the retuned steering system, and the far stiffer suspension setup makes it feel way more "together" and strapped down than a Grand Touring. It feels keen to be thrown into bends and hardly leans when you do, the rear torque vectoring maintaining a resolutely neutral cornering stance. The system isn't there to paper over a lack of chassis talent but rather to elevate cornering composure to the next level and aid high-speed stability. The bespoke Michelins stick like glue, and the massive carbon-ceramic brakes are actually up to hauling down the 5,300-plus-pound brute. Whether the ride is too firm for your taste is up to you to decide, but there's no doubt all the electronic wizardry has given the Sapphire nearly magical handling prowess, considering its weight.
The EPA estimates for the Lucid Air Sapphire's MPGe figures on its standard 20/21-inch wheels were not yet available at the time of writing, but the Grand Touring Performance model with 1,050 hp earns EPA figures of 110/111/111 MPGe - the Sapphire should be a little down on this, but it's still good for 427 miles of range, beating even the most efficient (116 MPGe overall) Plaid on 19-inch wheels by over 30 miles.
With a built-in 19.2-kW Wunderbox battery charger and the Sapphire's 900-V electrical architecture, Lucid claims that a maximum of 200 miles can be added in 12 minutes at a charging speed of up to 300 kW at a DC fast charger. The Lucid Connected Home Charging Station can add up to 80 miles per hour and has a 24-foot cable. Lucid has entered a partnership with Electrify America, which has more than 3,200 chargers across the US, and people who had ordered their Air Sapphire before October 31, 2023, qualify for two years of free charging at Electrify America charging stations.
Single Speed Automatic
|About 105 MPGe combined|
|80 miles every hour with Lucid Connected Home Charging Station |
200 miles every 12 minutes at a 300-kW DC fast charger
Safety levels are high, and though no crash results are available, Lucid throws every driver assist in the book at the Sapphire, including automated parking and Highway Driving Assist.
Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS has done a safety review of the Lucid Air Sapphire or any other Air trim, but being a brand-new design with a long list of safety features and driver assists, it should be as safe as anything in this class.
The federally mandated ABS, stability control, backup camera, and tire-pressure monitoring are present and accounted for, and the Sapphire is also equipped with eight airbags. Beyond these, the Sapphire also comes standard with the DreamDrive Pro advanced driver-assistance suite, which can be updated over the air. DreamDrive Pro includes parking sensors front and rear, automatic parallel and perpendicular parking, forward-collision alert, adaptive cruise control with speed-limit assist and automatic emergency braking, traffic-sign recognition, front and rear cross-traffic alert, pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure protection, Highway Driving Assist with lane centering, and a surround-view monitor.
|Adaptive cruise control with automatic braking|
|Blind-spot monitoring with lane-keep assist|
|Highway Driving Assist|
NHTSA safety ratings are not available at this time.
JD Power has no overall or Quality & Reliability score for the Lucid Air Sapphire, as it's still so new. The 2023 Air was recalled four times for issues relating to failing windshield wipers, motor shutdown, faulty powertrain software, and an inoperative backup camera, but it's not clear yet whether any of these apply to the 2023 Sapphire.
The limited warranty of the 2023 Lucid Air Sapphire is valid for four years/50,000, and the powertrain warranty is for eight years/100,000 miles.
The Air is a clean-sheet design from a new automaker and doesn't owe anything to tradition - or a predecessor - in terms of styling. It confidently goes its own way and looks like the futuristic electric sedan that it is. The front end is menacing, with its slit-like full-width light bar hiding the LED headlights. There's a full-width LED light bar aft, too, and the rear view is seamless because the clamshell trunk lid wraps around the body, hiding its shut lines. The shape is pebble-smooth in the interest of a super-low drag coefficient, but the Sapphire does look more aggressive than other Airs, thanks to its wider stance (almost an inch front and rear), subtle aerodynamic enhancements to generate some downforce, and the standard Stealth package. This package blacks out the exterior trim and the staggered 20/21-inch Aero Sapphire alloy wheels. The car has a black lightweight aluminum roof and a blacked-out glasshouse as well, and comes in only one paint color - Sapphire Blue. The wheels come with center-lock bolt-on wheel covers to enhance the car's aerodynamics.
The Lucid Air Sapphire is a ground-breaking car in many respects and rewrites the rulebook for large, rapid electric sedans. It's now the quickest of the lot, yet the most efficient, and goes farther on a charge than any rival. Its staggering straight-line sprinting ability is bolstered by a properly sorted chassis that provides incredible handling for its weight, no doubt helped by the torque vectoring of the dual rear motors. The roomy cabin and tons of cargo space should seal the deal, but there's the small matter of its exorbitant price of a quarter of a million dollars and whether it's worth three times as much as a Model S Plaid. Its awesome abilities notwithstanding, it's simply priced out of the market. It's an exercise in cutting-edge technology, but this comes at great cost.