Donkervoort builds distinctive, lightweight roadsters and hard-tops that are part race car, part classic car and enough street car to drive legally down highways – at least in some countries. The retro-modern speedsters have gradually evolved from their Lotus Seven-inspired roots, offering aggressive looks and fast, sharp rides on track and road. In 2004, the Donkervoort D8 RS set a Nürburgring record, blowing the previous Porsche Carrera GT record away by close to 15 seconds. And now Donkervoort is launching that model's spiritual successor, the D8 GTO-RS.
The new D8 GTO-RS is set to debut as the most extreme version of the D8 GTO series. Donkervoort provided a sneak peek this week ahead of the car's Summer 2016 launch.
The RS has even more of an "aggressive time traveler" demeanor than the standard GTO thanks to a redesigned grille, razor-sharp, angry eyes and a widened track. The stretched track comes courtesy of a new suspension, and the RS has reworked brakes to match. It also has improved aerodynamics.
Donkervoort worked with Bosch on revising the engine management system of the Audi 2.5-liter five-cylinder R5 TFSI. It hasn't released any numbers yet, but it makes clear that the goal was more acceleration power, improved driving comfort and EU6 compliance. There's also a new launch control and double clutch.
The standard GTO develops up to 380 bhp with that same engine and speeds from 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 2.8 seconds – not a bad starting point for a more extreme version to build from.
Donkervoort alludes to the possibility of another Nürburgring record, calling some modifications "lap enhancing features." In a previous sneak peek earlier this year, it also wrote: "The legendary RS is back! And its ambitions are just as great as those of its predecessor. What do these ambitions involve? We will leave that up to you and your own imagination …"
The Nürburgring landscape is quite a bit different than it was in 2004. Donkervoort actually bested its own time with a 7:14.89 run in 2005. While a nice improvement upon 2004's 7:18.10, it was nowhere near the 6:55 that Radical posted in 2005, a record that remained intact until 2009, when it was broken with a 6:48 ... by Radical.
Donkervoort's 7:14 time remains one of the top 10 Nürburgring runs, but leaders like Radical and Porsche have set the bar quite high (or is that low) with sub-7-minute times. And if existing records don't prove too much to overcome, cars like the Radical RXC Turbo 500 and Koenigsegg One:1 are undoubtedly chomping at the bit now that Nürburgring's temporary speed limits and record run bans have been lifted. Koenigsegg was plotting a record attempt when the speed limits went into effect last year, and it's already confirmed that it's working on one again this year.
Then again, everyone argues and positions over what is and is not a proper production car (some ignore Radical and Donkervoort's records because of this), so Donkervoort could always play the "that's not a proper production car but ours is" card if it comes up short.
The D8 GTO-RS is part of an expanded product range Donkervoort announced in February. It follows the all-new D8 GTO-S, a more comfortable touring version of the GTO that started making its way to customers last month. A track-only GTO-R race car will launch later this year as the third and final part of the announced expansion plan.
The D8 GTO-RS starts at €151,173 (approx. US$172,400) before taxes, and Donkervoort has already sold 21 of the 40 planned models.