The 2020 Audi S6 Just Gave Up Trying to Hide Its Driving Sensors

Photos: Audi

With a new A6 comes the new 2020 Audi S6. It’s now a 48-volt mild hybrid with a 2.9-liter V6 making 444 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque. Of course it generally looks like every other Audi sedan—except unlike those, it doesn’t even try to hide its horribly distracting radar sensors in the grille.

To be fair, this extremely questionable design choice actually debuted on the regular Audi A6 update a few months back, it was just not the only grille option, and many of the press materials at the time decided to go with the grille that didn’t have two giant rectangles cut out of the front of it. I actually also already wrote about the S6, and then immediately forgot about it. I don’t have to wonder why.

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But now I’m ranting about it again, because Audi has released pricing info which means I had to remember this car, and for whatever reason I didn’t remember just how bad the grille treatment was.

Thanks to the driver assistance systems on the Audi A6 and S6, Audi has to fit radar emitters to the front of the car to help its depressed, drowsy, distracted drivers not run into things. This is fairly common hardware for many cars with systems like lane-keep, parking assist, and automated distance cruise control. Except most cars don’t exactly embrace the technology as enthusiastically as Audi has done here, at least not the styling departments.

Instead of finding some clever way of hiding the hardware behind some sort of plastic with a graphic that at least makes it look like a grille of solid, uninterrupted horizontal lines, Audi breaks up the motif smack in the middle, with the raw plastic of the radar emitters exposed to the world, visible from approximately a million miles away as people turn and wonder why a brand new Audi already looks like it’s all-wheel-driven its way into a crash.

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I personally would have gone with... literally any other design choice. If not the aforementioned go-to cover-up panels other automakers seem to employ to avoid this eyesore, do something else. Maybe it’s finally time to break up that big grille with a bumper that stretches across, so you’re not just cutting holes in grille lines. Like old Audis used to do. You now have an functional excuse.

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2002 Audi S6 design with plenty of room for integrated sensors.
2006 S6 design again with plenty of room for integrated sensors.
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My colleague and resident design expert Jason Torchinsky likes Audi’s embrace of the technology here. “Show it off, why not,” he says, not bothered by the complete lack of philosophy, style or even minimal effort of the A6 and S6 design teams.

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I say go ahead and embrace it, sure, just do it in a way that looks good. That shouldn’t have to be a question.

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As for the rest of the new S6, Audi claims the mild hybrid setup means it’s also now fitted with the first-ever electric power compressor on an Audi in the U.S., which means a reduction in turbo lag and improved acceleration. The automaker claims a 0 to 60 mph time of 4.4 seconds, and its equipped with an 8-speed auto and standard Quattro all-wheel drive that can shove up to 85 percent of the torque to the rear axle.

Pricing of options is yet to be announced, but the 2020 S6 will start at $73,900 for the Premium Plus, or $77,800 for the Prestige model, neither including the $995 destination charge nor tax, title, etc.

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All that money for a couple of holes in the nose. Couldn’t be me.

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