2020 Audi S6: A Stealthy Sedan with a Hi-Po Heart

Anybody out there still buying sedans? Hello? Is this thing on? If you’re still a sedan hand-raiser (good for you!) you need to check out the 2020 Audi S6. Its understated looks, terrific powertrain and compliant ride make it a standout midsize sedan. And as German performance sedans go it’s cheap!

I get calling an $80,000 sedan “cheap” is laughable, but hear me out: The 2020 Audi S6 I’m driving at the moment is almost two grand less than an S6 we drove in December 2014.

Audi introduced this latest, 2020 S6 last July, and it has a lot of new content. The extremely well-built interior, as we’ve come to expect from Audi, gets a groovy infotainment system— Audi calls it virtual cockpit—with two touchscreens seamlessly blending into the dash and center console. The wheel on the center console is gone, so to control the screens you pinch, tap, swipe and write like you do on your smartphone.

The 2020 Audi S6 gets new mechanical goodies, too, starting with the twin-turbo 2.9-liter V6. Shared with the Porsche Panamera S, the engine delivers 444 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque and has a 48-volt mild-hybrid system powering an electric compressor, a first for Audi in the U.S.

The 2020 S6’s engine is mated to an eight-speed automatic, and Audi says the car can hit 60 mph in 4.4 seconds. Indeed, the V6 hauls this baby around just fine, thank you, and is smooth and refined doing it. Midrange oomph is impressive; I suppose that’s part of electric boost’s point. And of course, quattro all-wheel drive is standard. The system’s front and rear active torque distribution means normally 60% torque is sent rearward.

The S6 is a quiet, lovely cruiser 99% of the time in town and out on the freeway. The modern interior’s new touchscreens work flawlessly for me. The steering is still Audi light but not as overboosted as it used to be and also feels better connected to the road. I say 99% of the time rather than 100 because, while the overall experience is refined, there is a split-second lag accelerating from a standing stop. After a day or two driving I’m used to it but it’s noticeable. That is a real small hiccup in what is for the vast majority of the time a terrific driver. Grip is of course terrific with quattro.

The new S6 has some weight on its shoulders: Not only is it competing against Mercedes’ mighty E-Class and the BMW 5-Series, it needs to somehow keep buyers interested in midsize sedans overall. The car is certainly good enough. It’s quick and drives nicely and looks subtle so you fly under the proverbial radar. If this is the sedan’s last hurrah, I’ll take it.

Base Price: $73,900

Powertrain: 2.9-liter turbocharged V6, eight-speed automatic transmission, AWD

Output: 444 hp, 443 lb-ft

Curb Weight: 4,486 lb

Fuel Mileage (EPA City/Highway/Combined): 24/32/27 mpg

Pros: Outstanding engine, compliant ride, sky-high build quality.

Cons: The tiniest hesitation from a standing start.

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