Skip to main content
Lucid Air Sapphire

Lucid Air Sapphire vs. Tesla Model S Plaid: Spec Check

When numbers are king, who comes out on top?

  • The Tesla Model S Plaid has a new challenger.
  • It takes the form of the Lucid Air Sapphire.
  • So, which EV is going to be king of the drag strip?

Lucid just launched the Air Sapphire, the long-awaited triple-motor variant of the Air. The Sapphire also marks the release of a new performance arm for Lucid, and as you might have guessed, the company is dubbing it Sapphire. With the arrival of the Air Sapphire, the Tesla Model S Plaid finally has a direct rival. So, we did what any enthusiast would: We laid out the numbers and put two of the most powerful sedans you can buy head-to-head.

Tesla Model S Plaid

Plaid vs Sapphire: by the numbers

Let's not beat around the bush here — you want to know how these two stack up in terms of performance. The Tesla Model S Plaid makes 1,020 horsepower. That was already less than the Lucid Air Dream Edition Performance, but the Sapphire takes it up another notch. The Sapphire and its three motors make over 1,200 hp, making it the most powerful sedan in the world, EV or otherwise. The final number will likely be more than that, but Lucid isn't quoting any official figures yet.

We've only been able to test the Plaid so far, so we're going to put our test numbers head-to-head with Lucid's claims until we can strap our testing gear to the Sapphire. In our instrumented testing, the Model S Plaid made the 0-60 mph sprint in 2.3 seconds. The Plaid carried on to complete the quarter mile in a frankly absurd 9.4 seconds at 150.8 miles per hour. That makes it the single quickest machine we have ever tested here at Edmunds, and we test everything.

Keep in mind that Edmunds does not quote numbers that subtract the customary 1-foot rollout that is used at most drag strips. We still measure it, though, and with rollout subtracted, the Plaid managed the same sprint in 2.1 seconds. Other publications have attested to sub-2-second times while it was on a prepared surface, but we use regular old tarmac just like any owner would.

Lucid Air Sapphire

Lucid, for its part, has some claimed performance figures. The keyword is of course, claim, and while we haven't vetted them yet, they stack up to the Plaid's numbers nicely. Lucid says the Sapphire will do 0-60 in less than 2 seconds, 0-100 in less than 4 seconds, and rip through the quarter mile in less than 9. Should those numbers hold up, it would be quicker than the Plaid, and that's no small feat.

What about everything else?

Let's talk about hauling yourself down from those ridiculous speeds. The Plaid is equipped with 15-inch steel brakes up front and 14.4-inch steel brakes at the rear. In our testing it hauled the Plaid down from 60 mph in 108 feet. That's not bad for a 4,842-pound sedan, but it's worth noting that some have reported that the Tesla struggles to keep up that braking performance. However, if you want to upgrade the Tesla's brakes, you can opt for a pricey 16-inch front and rear carbon-ceramics. It's $20,000 for the set, but that price includes installation. However, Tesla's website says the kit will be available as an aftermarket option in the middle of 2022, and not that they're available now despite the halfway mark of the year having come and gone.

The Sapphire, for its part, comes with carbon-ceramic brakes as standard. The brakes themselves are made by Akebono, the same company that did the brakes for the McLaren P1 hypercar. The front brakes are 16.5 inches and the rears are smaller 15.4-inch ceramic units. The fronts are latched onto by 10-piston calipers and the rears use a four-piston setup. Neither the Tesla's ceramic setup nor the Sapphire's has been tested yet, but we're going to say the Lucid is at a natural advantage here because the beefier brakes come standard and don't have to be installed by a Tesla technician.

Tesla Model S Plaid

As for range, we all know that adding power saps a car's available range. The Model S Plaid carries an EPA-estimated range of 348 miles on a single charge. In our testing, it managed 345 miles, right on target with what the EPA says. Lucid hasn't given a range figure for the Air Sapphire yet, but it's got solid bones to work with. The Lucid Air Dream Edition we tested covered 505 miles on a single charge. We assume the Sapphire will have a lower range once the EPA estimate is officially released, but we'd be surprised if it got less than 400 miles to a charge.

Lastly, let's talk money. The Plaid has a massive advantage over the Lucid here, starting at $137,440. Even if you opt for the $4,500 21-inch wheels and the pricey brake upgrade, you're still well undercutting the Air Sapphire, which will start at $249,000. At the end of the day, that's a lot of money for any sedan, whether it's the most powerful sedan in the world or not. Buyers with deep enough pockets to pick between the Plaid and the Sapphire have one heck of a choice in front of them.

Lucid Air Sapphire

Edmunds says

One thing we know we appreciate about the Lucid even if we haven't driven it yet: its conventional steering wheel.