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Lucid Air Sapphire Is the 1,200-HP Answer to the Tesla Model S Plaid

Three motors and a claimed 0-60 time of "under 2 seconds" bring the fight to Tesla.

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A blue electric sedan sits, baking in the desert sun on a salt flat.
It’s like the Lucid Air Grand Touring Performance, but much spicier.
Photo: Lucid

The Lucid Air is probably my favorite cost-no-object EV right now, with its unique styling, superb driving dynamics and excellent interior design. The top-tier Grand Touring Performance is no slouch either, with over 1,000 horsepower and a 0-60 time in the 2.6-second range. Of course, that 0-60 time is slower than Tesla’s significantly cheaper Model S Plaid, and people love to talk shit. So to shut up the haters, Lucid is pulling out all the stops with the Lucid Air Sapphire, which debuted today at Monterey Car Week with three motors, 1,200 horsepower, and a claimed 0-60 time of “under 2 seconds.”

Sapphire is a whole new performance-oriented sub-brand for Lucid — like AMG at Mercedes or M at BMW. The Air Sapphire is the first vehicle to wear the badge. But Lucid is not exactly cranking out thousands of cars right now, so why put the considerable effort into launching a performance sub-brand, and why Sapphire?

A blue EV sits on a salt flat, with its rear end in the frame of the photo.
Big carbon ceramic brakes are standard on the Sapphire.
Photo: Lucid

“Sapphire is the embodiment of what ultra-high-performance luxury means to Lucid,” said Derek Jenkins, senior vice president of brand and design for Lucid, in a statement. “Sapphire is among the most valued gemstones, prized for their brilliance, color, and hardness. Imperial Blue has long been the de facto national color for American motorsports teams engaged in international competitions. As Lucid’s dedicated ultra-high-performance brand, Sapphire references this history while setting new standards for innovation and technology.”


Okay, so that explains part of it. What, then, does the Sapphire thing mean from a technological perspective? The big item is a third electric motor (one for each rear wheel, plus a third motor driving the front axle), which bumps up total power to approximately 1,200 hp. The Sapphire also gets great big honkin’ carbon-ceramic brakes as standard, along with stiffer springs and bushings, updated adaptive damper settings, along with retuned settings for ABS, traction control and power steering. Lastly, it gets bigger wheels and tires, going to a Michelin PS4S sized 265/35R-20 at the front and 295/30R-21 at the rear. Serious stuff!

Luxury EV car interior.
The Lucid Air’s interior rules and the Sapphire continues that theme.
Photo: Lucid

Lucid is also quick to point out in its press release that, unlike some of the competition, the Sapphire will not need any kind of paid upgrades or preconditioning to do its sub-two-second launches. This is obviously a dig at Tesla, which nickel-and-dimes customers via after-purchase over-the-air performance upgrades.

All of this sounds rad, right? I know I’m excited to get some wheel time in it. Of course, that leaves two big questions: how much does it cost, and when will it be available? The answer to the former will require you to take a seat and brace yourself – it’s $249,000. As to the latter, reservations will open on Tuesday, August 23, at 9 a.m. Pacific, with deliveries set to begin sometime in 2023.