The Lucid Air returns to the Motor Authority Best Car To Buy competition finalists’ circle, though this time logistics almost kept it out of the running.
At the 11th hour before Motor Authority Best Car To Buy 2024 testing began we received word the Lucid Air Sapphire booked for track testing wouldn’t be coming due to unforeseen circumstances. We ruled the insanely fast electric car out of the competition right then and there.
But after Senior Editor Kirk Bell and I spent a day with the now de facto benchmark for fast sedans we agreed there’s no way it could be cut from the competition. After the Air Dream Edition made it to the Motor Authority Best Car To Buy 2020 finalist circle and failed to clinch the win, can the Lucid Air Sapphire finish the job to become Motor Authority Best Car To Buy 2024?
Lucid Air Sapphire
With three electric motors producing up to a combined 1,234 hp and 1,430 lb-ft of torque, the Air Sapphire certainly has more than enough power. And with a 118-kwh battery pack, it delivers plenty of range, an EPA-rated 427 miles to be precise.
With performance statistics of 0-60 mph in 1.9 seconds, 0-100 mph in 3.8 seconds, and the quarter-mile in 9.0 seconds at 158 mph on its way to a top speed of 205 mph, the Air Sapphire is far and away the most powerful and quickest finalist in Best Car To Buy history.
While the performance specifications grab headlines, it’s the Air Sapphire’s ability to carve corners with precision and a natural feel that shocked our editors. With one electric motor on the front axle and two on the rear, the Sapphire shifts the power front to back and vectors it side to side in the rear to rotate the car through turns. It all happens in the background, unbeknownst to the driver. The car just goes about its sport sedan business despite weighing 5,336 pounds.
Standard Air models offer fine handling, but the Sapphire takes the car into true sport sedan territory. That’s because the suspension has been retuned and upgraded with firmer bushings, different angles for the knuckles and control arms to dial in more camber, and stiffer springs paired with retuned dampers. It all adds up to a composed and controlled ride even at blisteringly fast speeds.
Lucid upgrades the brakes to handle the car’s weight and the speed it can achieve. It gets massive carbon-ceramic rotors paired with 10-piston front and 4-piston rear calipers. They never seem to fade or even smoke even after repeated abuse.
Lucid Air Sapphire
Lucid Air Sapphire
The Air Sapphire still retains most of the rest of the lineup’s qualities, for better and worse. The fast roofline can still make getting in and out of the Air’s comfortable cabin a chore. The software seems to have a few glitches left as our key wasn’t recognized a couple times. The roof is now metal instead of glass, which reduces weight and interior temperatures but doesn’t look as futuristic.
While dynamically impressive, the Air Sapphire can still only take to the track for two or three laps, depending on the track, at full tilt place in the Sapphire mode’s Hot Lap sub-setting before it will pull back the power. The Endurance sub-mode, which “only” delivers 767 hp, will enable about twice as much track time. But once the powertrain gets too hot, the car will need to be plugged into a fast charger for 60-80 minutes cool the system and recharge the battery.
Is the second time the charm? Is an American-made electric super sedan poised to win this competition? Will the Lucid Air Sapphire be named Motor Authority Best Car To Buy 2024 over an American supercar, America’s muscle car, a Japanese hot hatch, and a German sport coupe? Check back on Jan. 3 when we reveal the winner, along with the champs from our sister sites, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports.