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- Highs Under-the-radar performance, deluxe cabin, cheaper than the more stylish S7.
- Lows Perhaps not as flashy as buyers expect, little drama, controls too reliant on touchscreens.
- Verdict With its understated exterior, the Audi S6 maintains its role as the sleeper performance sedan of the segment while still delivering on the promise of luxury.
With 444 horses and only mild styling differences from the staid A6 sedan, the 2020 Audi S6 offers speed and performance in a handsome but understated package. There's plenty of luxury and tech, too, with a finely crafted cabin, contemporary styling, a host of digital displays, and modern driver-assistance features at the ready. The S6 hides high-performance features such as an adjustable air suspension, an optional rear-wheel-steering system, and an electric-powered supercharger under its staidly styled sedan body. Not into the three-box look? Check out the fastback S7. Or if you need a bit more power, the RS6 Avant is also available.
What's New for 2020?
After taking the 2019 model year off, the S6 is new for 2020. Based on the mid-size A6, the S6 benefits from the same interior and technology updates as the standard car but features a new twin-turbocharged and supercharged 2.9-liter V-6 under the hood.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
Going for the top-spec Prestige seems like a no-brainer, as its $5700 price bump over the base model adds a ton of equipment, including adaptive cruise control, a semi-autonomous driving mode, a head-up display, upgraded headlamps with automatic high-beams, soft close doors, a power trunklid, heated rear seats, a leather-wrapped dashboard, and a cabin-fragrance system with an air ionizer. Plus, going with the Prestige provides the ability to add a 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen stereo system ($4900) or the Night Vision package ($2500).
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
While the last-generation S6 was powered by a throaty 450-hp 4.0-liter V-8, the 2020 model comes with a more complex powertrain. The standard 2.9-liter V-6 is twin-turbocharged and uses a 48-volt hybrid system to power an electric supercharger for additional boost. Altogether, the system pumps out a robust 444 horsepower. An eight-speed automatic and Audi's Quattro all-wheel-drive system are standard. Audi claims the car can leap to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds but we think that number is fairly conservative; the S7—the S6's shapelier counterpart—managed to blast to 60 mph in just 4.1 seconds at our test track. On curvy roads, the S6 is a lovely partner. It disguises its size well and feels nimbler than we anticipated, especially with the optional rear-wheel-steering system.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
As expected, the S6's fuel economy has improved over the outgoing model's. The new car earned EPA estimated ratings of 18 mpg city, 28 mpg highway, and 22 mpg combined—an increase of 2 mpg, 4 mpg, and 4 mpg, respectively, over the old V-8-powered S6. We haven't had the chance to put this car through our 200-mile highway fuel-economy test, but the mechanically similar S7 delivered a 28-mpg result.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Like that of the A6, the S6's interior serves to highlight Audi's tech-driven luxury ethos. The design is sleek and modern, highlighted by fine materials, soft leather, and genuine wood trim. Four-zone automatic climate control is standard, as are a power-adjustable heated steering wheel, adjustable ambient lighting, diamond-stitched leather upholstery, and 12-way power-adjustable heated front seats. Going with the top-spec Prestige model adds the Extended Leather package, which wraps the dashboard, armrests, and center console in supple leather. Though we haven't tested the S6's cargo capacity yet, we expect it will hold the same amount of stuff as the A6—that is, six carry-on suitcases inside the trunk and a total of 20 cases with the rear seats folded.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The S6's dashboard is dominated by digital displays. The main 10.1-inch infotainment touchscreen rests above a secondary 8.6-inch display. The upper screen handles functions such as navigation, audio controls, and other entertainment features while the lower one provides access to vehicle settings, climate control, and the like. All S6 models come standard with Audi's Virtual Cockpit digital gauge display and an onboard Wi-Fi hotspot. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration are also included.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
While neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have tested the 2020 S6, they both have tested the A6, and it passed with flying colors. In fact, IIHS named the A6 to its Top Safety Pick+ list for 2020 because of its available driver-assistance features. Those same features are offered on the S6, too. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection
- Standard lane-departure warning
- Available adaptive cruise control with semi-autonomous driving mode
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
If Audi's standard warranty seems a little basic, that's because is it. Rivals such as the BMW M5 and the Lexus GS F offer complimentary scheduled maintenance.
- Limited warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance
2020 Audi S6
front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
PRICE AS TESTED
$79,990 (base price: $74,895)
twin-turbocharged, supercharged, and intercooled DOHC 24-valve V-6, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
177 in3, 2894 cm3
444 hp @ 6700 rpm
443 lb-ft @ 1900 rpm
Suspension (F/R): multilink/multilink
Brakes (F/R): 15.8-in vented disc/13.8-in vented disc
Tires: Pirelli P Zero PNCS, 255/35R-21 98Y A0
Wheelbase: 115.3 in
Length: 195.0 in
Width: 74.3 in
Height: 56.9 in
Passenger volume: 99 ft3
Trunk volume: 14 ft3
Curb weight: 4472 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 4.0 sec
100 mph: 9.8 sec
130 mph: 17.3 sec
150 mph: 26.2 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 4.9 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 2.9 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 3.5 sec
1/4 mile: 12.5 sec @ 112 mph
Top speed (mfr's claim): 155 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 153 ft
Braking, 100–0 mph: 319 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.90 g
Standing-start accel times omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 23 mpg
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 22/18/28 mpg