What's Better? All-Wheel Drive And Horsepower Vs. Power-To-Weight?

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Our test subjects today: Nissan GT-R, Honda NSX, and McLaren 540C.

The "C" at the end of the name McLaren 540C almost seems like a demerit, as if it were the iPhone 5C and not the 5S that everyone wanted at the time. However, as a vehicle strewn with carbon fiber and a McLaren badge, it's still an object of upmost desire for the most of us. Endowed with a not at all shabby 533 horsepower that's routed to the rear to carry a 2,888 pound mass, the 540C seems like a real winner on paper. Until you get to the formidable and proven competition that can potentially put the hurt on the baby Mac.

First up is the Honda NSX (Brits get a Honda Badge rather than an Acura A) followed by the Nissan GT-R, which needs no introduction. The NSX makes an additional 40 horsepower and gobs of instant electric torque, which then goes to all four wheels while the Nissan GT-R's launch credentials come from….well, the fact that it's a Nissan GT-R.

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If this was a quarter mile drag race, the McLaren would walk away with its tail between its legs without a doubt because despite its lightness and impeccable launch control, the rear-wheel drive system and horsepower deficiency would hold it back from beating its competitors out for those first few meters. However, once traction is no longer an issue, power to weight ratio begins to dominate the playing field. By the end of the standing kilometer (0.6 mile), the GT-R and NSX suddenly find themselves with a competent match.

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