In a drag race, an all-wheel-drive versus rear-wheel-drive matchup with almost equal power output will most likely end up with the AWD finishing first. The benefit of having all four wheels gripping at a standing start is certainly an advantage, though there are of course many other factors that should be considered.
Take this matchup, for example, courtesy of Hoonigan on YouTube. Facing each other are two very different cars – an Honda NSX and a first-generation BMW M4. Both cars are modified in one way or another, both making around 700 bhp. No exact figures here as the owners weren't aware of the exact output figures of their contenders.
The Honda NSX is the AWD contender here. It's powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.5-litre V6 and three electric motors. The owner said that it's got a little tune, involving downpipes and an additional 100 bhp. It's also on stock tyres.
Meanwhile, the BMW M4 had a reworked engine bay, with a resulting turbocharged 3.0-litre S55 making around 700 bhp, sent to the rear wheels. While that was a disadvantage, the M4 was actually wearing slicks, which should be an advantage in terms of grip.
In fact, that was proven in the first round of the drag race. On a standing start, the Honda NSX just flew and blew the M4 out of the water. As expected, the Honda had a better start. The Hoonigan crew decided to level the contest and put the two cars on rolling-start drag races for the second and third rounds, which totally changed the game.
Here, the BMW M4 staged an upset versus the AWD NSX. It was just really quicker at faster speeds, which gave the Honda no chance in the contest.
Source: Hoonigan via YouTube