All-New Audi S Line Performance: S is for Sustainability

Motor Matters

It always amazes me when automotive engineers can shrink the engine and still improve horsepower, torque, and fuel efficiency over the predecessor.

That’s the case with the all-new 2020 Audi S6 and S7, the sport performance versions of the popular A6 and A7 models. The new S6 engine is a hunky 444-horsepower V-6 twin-turbo with an electric compressor that gets 22 miles per gallon combined — several mpg better than its predecessor. The EPA rates fuel economy at 18 mpg city and 28 mpg highway.

The new S7 engine is a similar 444-horsepower, 2.9-liter TFSI biturbo that can launch 0-to-60 mph in a track-worthy 4.5 seconds. Both models feature Audi’s revolutionary quattro AWD system, and are built on the same undercarriage.

The S7 is 1 inch wider than the S6 and more like a coupe than a sedan. Product manager Anthony Foulk told me that, while they have similar driving feel and features, customers often prefer the S7 for its unique shape.

Both models feature Audi’s eight-speed automatic with sport shift mode. Throwing it into clutchless manual mode tightened the steering and required a bit more throttle pressure to maintain speed, but I did not notice any difference in braking.

An adaptive sport suspension that is tighter than its predecessor is all new for the U.S. market, but that doesn’t mean a stiff, brain-shaking ride. Far from it: On my recent test drives on gloriously winding mountain roads through old-growth Redwoods near San Francisco, the sport suspension on both the S6 and S7 absorbed road damage, bumps, and bruises like a boring old family sedan.

Both models are planted and sure-footed even on tight turns, with no body lean even at warp speed, and are really fun to drive. Yes, I know that’s a cliche description, but it’s honest and accurate.

I was held tight in my sporty seat by deep bolsters on the sides and a fixed headrest. In these two Audi models, they are leather and quilted for style and comfort. Audi also has a new virtual cockpit for the 2020 S6 and S7. The huge 3D navigation screen is just below the dashboard line, and it didn’t take long for me to fall in love with the bright blue line marking my way on the map.

I also loved another navi notification in the heads-up display: In addition to the stated speed limit and your speed, it shows the number of miles to the next turn, along with a blue arrow telling you left or right. Easy!

Another thing that popped up was a green shoe icon. This eco-friendly feature alerts you to take your foot off the throttle and coast, saving a few more drops of fuel. Of course, the S6 and S7 are equipped with stop-start engines, saving yet more fuel in stop-and-go traffic.

Some two-dozen sensors on each vehicle provide an additional cushion of safety, such as the sensor that spots an approaching bike and automatically prevents you from opening the door until the danger of smacking the cyclist with your door has passed.

The eco features of the Audi S6 and S7 are one part of Audi’s green focus — called Mission Zero — to reduce company-wide carbon emissions by 35 percent by 2025. That includes carbon-neutral production and supply chains, closed resource loops, and sustainable products.

Audi also has given a name to its iconic logo, as the Four Rings of Sustainability — reduce, reuse, recycle, and rethink — now integrated into the planning of every project.

By 2025, Audi plans to offer more than 30 electrified car models, accounting for 40 percent of its worldwide revenue, although plans have not yet been announced to electrify the S6, S7, or even the S8 flagship.

Also by 2025, Audi aims to operate all its plants on a CO2-neutral basis. That’s an impressive goal, and definitely green wheeling.

Striking design with S model enhancements give the S6 a more dynamic presence on the road. The new twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V-6 TFSI engine delivers 444 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque. The new electric turbo powered by the 48V Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle system helps balance efficiency and high levels of performance.