Lucid debuts its performance EV brand with the $249,000 Air Sapphire

You can challenge Tesla's best — if you're willing to pay.

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Lucid Air Sapphire performance EV
Lucid Motors

Are you considering a Lucid Air, but worried you might not outrun a Model S Plaid in a drag race? That might not be a problem if you have a large-enough bank account. Lucid has introduced a Sapphire badge devoted to "ultra-high-performance" EVs. The first model in the line, the Lucid Air Sapphire, promises to outperform Tesla's Plaid cars in at least some conditions — and not just in a straight line.

The Air Sapphire centers around a tri-motor system (one front, two rear) producing over 1,200HP, topping even the no-longer-available Dream Edition. In tandem with better cooling, the new powerplant reportedly delivers a 0-60MPH sprint in under two seconds, 0-100MPH in less than four seconds and a quarter-mile time below nine seconds. You can expect a top speed above 200MPH. While that's not guaranteed to demolish a customized Model S Plaid, this is also a factory-stock car that doesn't need a preconditioning period (like Tesla's Drag Strip Mode) to reach its full potential.

And yes, Lucid believes the Air Sapphire can handle turns and twists. You can expect a slightly wider body to accommodate new Aero Sapphire wheels with special Michelin tires. The motors' torque vectoring, meanwhile, promises both better turn-in while upgrading stability in straightaways. You can also expect a stiffer suspension, stiffer bushings and custom tuning for everything from the antilock brake system through to power steering. Range and other details are forthcoming.

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Lucid Air Sapphire interior
Lucid Motors

Most of the interior changes revolve around software. While there is a new visual theme and "highly bolstered" seating, the centerpiece is an updated interface with more performance-oriented features that include a dedicated Sapphire Mode.

None of these optimizations come cheap, however. Lucid will ask $249,000 for the limited-run Air Sapphire, with pre-orders in the US and Canada starting August 23rd at 9AM Eastern. That makes the $179,000 Grand Touring trim seem like a relative bargain, and even Porsche's $187,400 Taycan Turbo S is more affordable. In this category, though, bragging rights often help justify any premiums.

This might also represent an important strategy switch for Lucid. The fledgling EV maker has had to drastically cut its production targets in light of supply chain problems, and now expects to make no more than 7,000 cars in 2022 instead of the originally planned 20,000. Sapphire will arrive too late to help this year, but it might offset future financial trouble by increasing Lucid's profit from the cars it ships.

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Lucid debuts its performance EV brand with the $249,000 Air Sapphire