Currently reading: Ultimate drag race showdown: BMW, Porsche, Ferrari and more
A variety of seriously quick machines, including racing lorries and superbikes, fight it out on the runway

Pirates of the Caribbean didn’t start life as a huge film franchise, as you might know.

At first, it was just a Disneyland theme park ride – a few-minute thrill whose name and vague theme, decades after its launch, someone concocted a plot around and threw Johnny Depp into.

Similarly, this story didn’t start out as a magazine feature at all. Instead, it began life as a series of drag races that we videoed. Then someone said: “You know, we should probably tell people a bit more about this.” And thus the audio-visual few-minute thrill has become the feature you see here.

The idea behind it was straightforward enough, though: take some quick road cars, superbikes and other wild cards and put them up against each other in a series of drag races, hopefully matching vehicles of similar accelerative ability. We’d line them up and, a quarter of a mile later, see if we were right.

In many cases, we were able to put our GPS data-logging hardware on the machines, but sometimes we were not. Where we have data, we’ve published it.

Race one - Litchfield Nissan GT-R versus race bike

On paper, the 641bhp McLaren should have the measure of both the 542bhp GT-R and the 597bhp Speciale, but it’s the Nissan that gets off the line first — probably no surprise, given that it has four-wheel drive and the others, despite their engines being in the middle, do not.

Of the supercars, the McLaren gets away better, thanks to some turbocharged oomph, and it stays that way. In fact, it doesn’t just get away better than the Ferrari; the McLaren quickly overhauls the GT-R, too.

At the line, which the McLaren crosses 10.8sec after getting away, it’s holding a half-second advantage over the other two, which finish more or less together, both at a little over 11sec. The GT-R is a touch ahead and travelling at 124mph, but just another few yards and the Speciale would have had second.

Race three - Ariel Atom 3.5 R versus Rallycross Citroën DS3 and race bike

The explosive start gives Doran an advantage that the other two - Ariel second and Big Jim third - can’t quite overhaul. But Jim is having the time of his life anyway.

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Race four - Porsche 911 Turbo S versus Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat and Nissan GT-R

Race six - Range Rover Sport SVR versus race truck

My money is on the Porsche because, well, it’s a Porsche, but the power outputs suggest otherwise: that the Grand Cherokee, with its 470bhp 6.4-litre V8, will be behind the 542bhp Cayenne, which will be behind the 567bhp X5.

I’ll be honest: this one goes to form. The Jeep, for all of its noise and goodness, is slowest off the line and stays that way. The Porsche puts up a better fight against the BMW, but the X5 gets away slightly faster and then holds its advantage. If you want the fastest SUV off the lights, the X5 M is it. 

This article was originally published on 4 January 2016. We're revisiting some of Autocar's most popular features to provide engaging content in these challenging times. 

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FM8 3 April 2020

Symanski wrote:

Symanski wrote:

was the BMW needing an engine rebuild after every run!




I've heard of a few issues with BMW engines, but they're generally quite reliable. Have you ever had an issue?..

xxxx 3 April 2020

And the winner is

A 8ish year old R1 that costs around the same as a set of tyres on the Porsche.  Nice riding by the way

Symanski 3 April 2020

The only problem...

was the BMW needing an engine rebuild after every run!