Lucid Air: A Fresh Face With 500 Miles to a Charge, and Horsepower to Spare

Lucid Air: A Fresh Face With 500 Miles to a Charge, and Horsepower to Spare

The EQS drives beautifully, as you’d expect of any six-figure Mercedes, from wizardly rear-wheel steering to what must be the quietest cabin of any E.V. yet. But too much EQS tech is showboating gadgetry that might be applied to any gasoline car, like its overwrought 56-inch Hyperscreen display and ambient lighting that pours from every crevice, in 64 selectable colors. What’s missing is any innovation that advances electric driving.

First impressions don’t help. The EQS’s inelegant styling adheres to that most played-out of E.V. tropes: the ovum-shaped transportation pod, blown up to Benzian proportions. Mercedes posits the EQS as an alternative to its S-Class flagship; yet taller adults find their noggins squashed in a cramped back seat, and there’s no storage “frunk” as in many engine-free E.V.s. The Lucid is 11 inches shorter, yet easily fits lanky rear-seat riders, and brings the industry’s largest frunk.

Mercedes says the EQS is the world’s most aerodynamic production car. But Lucid’s Air is virtually as slippery, and manages to look great. Despite its aero profile, the EQS has a range maxing out at 350 miles, per its government rating. The Lucid’s most efficient version can go about 50 percent farther, enough for about two and a half more hours of highway driving.

Put up against Mercedes’s dynastic heritage and scale, Lucid is an obscure underdog. Yet this blank-slate company has advanced E.V. tech where it counts: No electric has gone farther on a charge. And no E.V. has charged faster, adding up to 300 miles in 20 minutes on a 350-kilowatt charger. (The Benz’s fastest charging rate is 200 kilowatts.)

“We just got 500 miles of range at 70 m.p.h. — how did we do that?” Mr. Rawlinson said, referring to a real-world, highway-speed range test conducted by “We did it by taking a ground-up review of what was possible from an E.V.”

Among models tested at the same 70-m.p.h. clip, the compact Tesla Model 3 was a distant second at 310 miles, followed by Tesla’s Model S at 300 miles and the Porsche Taycan at 297. InsideEVs has yet to test the Mercedes, though my mileage suggested the Benz can meet or exceed its 350-mile official rating.

A traditional automaker might have set a 400-mile target, achieved it and moved on, Mr. Rawlinson said.