What happens when you take a Lotus 7, one of the world’s best lightweight roadsters, and give it a futuristic makeover? Well, you would likely end up with something resembling that of the Donkervoort D8 GTO-RS. Not only is the D8 utterly breathtaking, it’s also Dutch.
The Dutch now have a reputation of building some seriously gorgeous supercars. Between Spyker and Zenvo they have proven that we need more cars coming out of the Netherlands. Yet Donkervoort is not a new kid when it comes to Dutch auto manufacturing. It all started in 1978 by Joop Donkervoort. Possibly the most Dutch name I’ve ever heard. But Joop started with the S7, a lightweight roadster that emulated everything that made the original Lotus 7 so good.
The S7 used the parts bin approach to making a car. It had a Ford engine and rear end with Triumph front suspension parts and other bits thrown in here and there. The S7 was upgraded to the S8 which saw improvements in almost every aspect. So much so that the car went unchanged until 1985. This was the turning point for Donkervoort, as they started to develop more as a brand so did their cars. The subsequent models that would come from the small Dutch company kept innovating and improving, with the end result being the D8 GTO-RS.
The D8 GTO-RS is the latest iteration of Donkervoorts innovations. Like the base GTO the RS comes equipped with a 2.5-liter TFSI engine sourced from the German giant Audi. The 5-cylinder engine produces 375-horsepower in the standard GTO while the RS is bumped up to over 400-horsepower. With a weight just north of 700kg the GTO-RS comes in with a very respectable 518bhp per US ton. If those numbers are just gibberish to you then all me to put it into perspective. That Dodge Demon everyone is drooling over, with its 840hp and hefty 4300 curb weight, comes in swinging with only 391bhp per US ton. It’s safe to say the RS is pretty damn fast.
Paired with the brilliant Audi engine is a full Bosch electronics suite. This gives the RS both traction control and ABS designed specifically for racing applications. Being fully adjustable you can tune it to fit any driving conditions. It is also pre-programed to double clutch for you, automatically rev matching each and every gear shift.
The suspension has also been upgraded, giving a boost to the already exceptionally handling ability of the D8 GTO. The entire nose of the RS has been redesigned, featuring a different suspension profile as well as improved aerodynamics. With these changes, the RS feels more stable and planted up front. On paper the D8 GTO-RS does 0-60 in 2.7-seconds. A very fast time but only half the story. Where the GTO-RS shines is absolutely in the corners. Joop says the GTO-RS will easily run away from a 911 GT3 RS, and everyone that has driven one has been more than willing to agree.
The styling is incredible. The GTO-RS looks absolutely sinister, which is partly because the styling is also functional. The previously mentioned front-end changes lend to a better air profile that the rest of the body falls in line with. They added spoilers up front that direct air strategically around the body, aiding in downforce. Under the chassis, Donkervoort added a carbon-fiber panel that completely encloses the bottom of the RS. The RS also received side skirts, a different rear diffuser, and a tighter cockpit with the upper doors removed. All of this gives the RS 20% less air resistance compared to the standard D8 GTO. Oh, and the body is entirely made up of carbon fiber. Can’t forget that.
Moving to the interior the impression continues, this is not a car, it’s a weapon. If you had a blindfold removed after sitting in the GTO-RS you might actually think you are in a fighter jet for a moment. Okay, the suede wrapped steering wheel might be a dead give away, but the day is reminiscent of something much more lethal than a lightweight sports car. Beyond the steering wheel is a gorgeous LCD display, a necessity for the Bosch electronics that are onboard. Moving your eyes to the right you will see a plethora of switches and gauges, all meant to give you the data you need to keep hunting Porsches. The entire package is neatly wrapped in carbon fiber with subtle touches of suede. By every account this is still a track car interior, most notably when you look at the seats. The wafer-thin carbon seats are nice and low in the chassis, with just enough padding to keep the bruises at bay. The center console is wrapped in suede. A nice touch that adds a hint of civility while the full carbon doors and roll cage remind you of what you are driving. Donkervoort offers the D8 GTO-RS in a variety of bold colors, like neon yellow, green, or orange. Or you can also order the RS in bare carbon, in case you really want to show off.
There are only two things that I don’t like about the B8 GTO-RS. First is to be expected, and that’s the price. 152,000 Euros. That’s currently about 165,000 us dollars. That’s a lot of scratch. While its performance puts it into supercar territory its luxuries do not. It’s a less is more type of car, yet you are still paying for the more. For some, it’s worth every penny and in that instance it brings us to my next problem. If you fancy yourself the kind of person that the GTO-RS is the perfect car for you better jump on it now because they are only making 65 of these monsters. If that’s not incentive enough keep in mind they have already sold 42 of that 65.
While I can appreciate Caterham sticking with a similar design to the original Lotus 7 for all these years; it sure is nice to see a company embracing the future in both styling and performance. While Donkervoort has had its success in the past the D8 GTO-RS is absolutely another win for the Dutch motoring company. The GTO-RS is without a doubt the new Lotus 7 of our generation.