Audi is peppering its lineup with sportier versions of its existing models. It recently announced a raft of diesel mild hybrids that won’t be sold in the United States, as well as the gasoline mild-hybrid S6 and S7. Those last two models always seemed like a safe bet for the U.S. and, sure enough, the 2020 Audi S6 is about to go on sale here.
In Audi speak, S denotes midlevel performance models. The S6 is sportier than the Audi A6 it’s based on, but not as extreme as the range-topping RS models. The 2020 S6 uses a mild-hybrid powertrain built around a 2.9-liter V6 engine. The V6 has a conventional, exhaust-driven turbocharger, as well as an electric compressor. Spun by an electric motor, the electric compressor can develop boost very quickly, eliminating the dreaded lag in throttle response associated with conventional turbochargers. Audi claims the electric compressor’s response time is under 250 milliseconds.
The U.S.-spec S6 develops 444 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque, and that quick-responding electric compressor should help deliver that power without any waiting. Audi claims the S6 will do 0 to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds.
The S6 is available with an eight-speed automatic transmission, with standard all-wheel drive. In regular driving, the all-wheel drive system sends 60 percent of power to the rear wheels, but it’s capable of sending up to 70 percent to the front wheels or 85 percent to the rear wheels, according to Audi. An optional sport rear differential can shunt power between the back wheels, which should improve handling. Other notable options include rear-wheel steering, sport exhaust, and a sport suspension system with adaptive dampers.
Like the A6 it’s based on, the S6 gets plenty of infotainment tech. It comes standard with the latest version of Audi’s MMI infotainment system, which uses dual screens (10.1-inch upper screen, 8.6-inch lower screen) to replace most analog controls. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, along with the Audi Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster, which can be reconfigured to show everything from a speedometer to Google Earth maps.
Visually, the S6 is distinguished from the A6 by a restyled front end, four round exhaust tips, model-specific 20-inch wheels, and other small changes. On the inside, the S6 gets a model-specific heated steering wheel, leather sport seats, and plenty of “S” badging, in case you forget what kind of car you’re driving.
The 2020 Audi S6 will start at $74,895 for the base Premium Plus trim level. Audi will also sell a Prestige version that starts at $78,795. Both prices include a mandatory $995 destination charge. Audi will likely add an S7 with the same powertrain in the U.S. at some point after the S6 launches. The Audi S models compete with BMW M Performance and lower-level Mercedes-AMG models in the increasingly stratified world of luxury performance cars.
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