Snow Driver: Audi RS 6 $82,700

Mountain Life
Snow Driver 0104

I was headed out of Boston to New Hampshire ski country in the luxury of the RS 6 when I came to one of Beantown's hard (and poorly marked) merges. An old painter's van barreled toward me on Storrow Drive. The RS 6 is a pretty car, in the way $80,000 luxury cars can be. But its looks mask a secret: a twin-turbo 4.2-liter V-8 engine with 450 hp. I gunned this power plant and squeezed by the van with stunning ease.

The RS 6 is the quickest street-legal Audi ever—a product of the company's performance arm, Quattro GmbH. They've taken the Quattro AWD system and mated it with a massive engine and a stylish, understated exterior. And for the gee-whiz factor, this automatic has a Tiptronic gear-control system that can be manually controlled by Formula One—like paddles mounted on the steering wheel. Very cool. As for the Quattro system, well, this is the fourth iteration, and it shows. Audi says the car will intervene on a slipping wheel before it makes a quarter turn. Either way, I knew that as soon as I got to the White Mountains—already frosty with snow—I was going to work that theory in real-world terms.