The ultimate DB GTO

Introduced in 1957, the iconic Lotus Seven was rebadged as a Caterham in 1973, when newly founded Caterham Cars purchased the rights to the design. The British firm continued to improve the model, making it both lighter and more powerful, but the styling has remained practically unchanged over the last four decades. However, there is one company that has completely redesigned the old Lotus Seven, giving it a more modern appearance and a turbocharged engine. It goes by the name Donkervoort, it is based in the Netherlands, and has been making Seven-based sports cars since 1978.

Donkervoort’s latest iteration is called the D8 GTO. Launched in 2013 with an Audi-sourced engine that can deliver as much as 380 PS (375 horsepower), the GTO has spawned many special-edition models in three years, and it’s set to receive three versions by the end of 2016, one of which is the GTO-RS. Described as the "ultimate D8 GTO," the RS will not only feature redesigned front and rear ends, but it will also be slightly larger and more powerful than any other Donkervoort unleashed to date.

Details are scarce as of this writing and specific information will probably be announced closer to its launch this summer, but Donkervoort has released photos of the GTO-RS and is already taking orders for the new sports car. Find out more about it below and stay tuned for updates.

Continue reading to learn more about the Donkervoort D8 GTO-RS.

Exterior

2017 Donkervoort D8 GTO-RS High Resolution Exterior
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Styling-wise, the D8 GTO is massive departure from the modern Caterham Seven. It has a more aerodynamic nose, the headlamps are integrated into the body, it has wider wheel arches, bigger doors, and a taller decklid area. The windscreen and the side windows are also different. All these changes not only contribute to a more modern and aggressive appearance, but also improve the car’s aerodynamics. For the RS, Donkervoort redesigned most of the sports car’s body panels.

Up front, the roadster received a wider nose that incorporates a reshaped grille with five horizontal openings instead of four.

Up front, the roadster received a wider nose that incorporates a reshaped grille with five horizontal openings instead of four. The elements still sports chrome detailing, but the upper section is now painted black. Also, the lower section of the grille extends toward the splitter. The engine hood features additional vents for a race-inspired look. The side panels are also new and have been integrated into the front fascia. They also include foglamps. The headlamps have also been reshaped into a more aggressive, almost triangular design that mimics the shape of the elements flanking the lower grille.

The side panels seem identical to the standard GTO save for the exhaust pipe cover with "GTO" lettering and the solid side window frames. Changes aren’t very obvious around back, but a closer inspection reveals a redesigned bumper with wider openings and new exhaust outlets.

Interior

2017 Donkervoort D8 GTO-RS High Resolution Interior
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The company had nothing to say about the RS’ interior, but the first photos show that the cabin is identical to the standard GTO’s as far as design and features go. Most of the dashboard and the door panels are made from carbon-fiber, while the center console and the seats are wrapped in leather. The steering wheel is swathed in Alcantara for optimum grip, but the center element comes in leather just like in the GTO. Making the RS stand out are the white faces of the analog gauges, the white background of the instrument cluster, and the red-and-black upholstery. The center console, seats, and door panels feature red leather with black stitching, while the steering wheel has black leather with red stitching. The RS also sports a carbon-fibre tunnel section, the first Donkervoort to do so. It could also get a few custom features that can’t be had with the standard GTO, but we won’t find out more about that until Donkervoort spills the beans.

Drivetrain

2017 Donkervoort D8 GTO-RS High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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The D8 GTO is powered by a turbocharged, 2.5-liter, five-cylinder engine borrowed from the previous Audi TT-RS. Donkervoort has been using it since 2013, when it replaced the 1.8-liter turbo-four that was also sourced from the German automaker. The five-banger cranks out between 340 or 380 PS (335 or 375 horsepower) depending on the model’s specification. Although Donkervoort didn’t reveal the actual output of the GTO-RS, it did say that the engine was further improved with help from long-time partner Bosch for "even more acceleration and driving comfort."

Other upgrades include a new suspension that has a wider track and provides "stronger grip on the front axle" and a "completely redeveloped" braking system

This probably means that the RS isn’t more powerful than the range-topping, 375-horsepower GTO, but quicker from 0 to 62 mph. Given that the GTO needs around 2.8 seconds to hit the benchmark, it’s safe to assume that the RS will be able to get there in 2.7 ticks. The sprint could drop to 2.6 seconds if the new aerodynamics are backed by a significant weight reduction, but the Dutch firm didn’t release actual figures. Donkervoort did mention that the RS is the lightest GTO ever created, which means it should tip the scales at less than 695 kg (1,532 pounds). Top speed should remain unchanged at 270 km/h (168 mph), which is more than any Caterham Seven can deliver.

Other upgrades include a new suspension that has a wider track and provides "stronger grip on the front axle" and a "completely redeveloped" braking system. The sports car also features a Bosch-developed launch control system and a double-clutch function.

Prices

Pricing for the D8 GTO-RS starts from €151,173 excluding taxes, which converts to around $172,180. This sticker makes it significantly more expensive than the 1000 Miglia Edition, priced from €115,000 (about $130,980), but more affordable than the Bilster Berg Edition, sold for €194,000 (around $220,960) before options. Only 40 units will be built and Donkervoort says that 21 have already been sold as of May 2016. Don’t get you hopes up on getting the D8 GTO-RS in the U.S.

Competition

Caterham Seven 620R

2016 Caterham Seven 620S
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The Caterham Seven is the obvious choice if you prefer Colin Chapman’s classic design. The 620R is currently the most powerful Seven you can buy. Motivated by a 311-horsepower, 2.0-liter, Ford Duratec engine, the 620R is not as powerful as the GTO-RS, but its lighter curb weight (1,201 pounds) enables it to be as quick in a straight line, being able to hit 62 mph from a standing start in 2.8 seconds. For 2016, Caterham also launched the 620S, a slightly more comfortable version that features a full windscreen, side windows, larger wheels, and leather seats as standard. Also not available in the U.S., the 620R retails from £49,995 in the U.K., which converts to around $72,430. The road-oriented 620S starts from £44,995 (about $65,215).

Read more about the Caterham Seven 620R and 620S here and here.

Ariel Atom 3S

2015 Ariel Atom 3S High Resolution Exterior
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The Ariel Atom 3S is insanity pushed to a whole new level.

When it comes to lightweight sports cars, the Ariel Atom 3S is one of the best you can buy. Although it lacks a proper body shell, the Atom S3 is impressive when it comes to power and speed. Motivation comes from a Honda-sourced, turbocharged, 2.4-liter engine that pumps 365 horsepower through Ariel’s standard close-ratio manual or a race-spec sequential gearbox by Sadev. Hitting 60 mph from a standing start takes only 2.8 seconds, which makes it as quick as the GTO-RS and 620R. Unlike its main rivals, the Atom 3S is available in the U.S., where it can be had for $89,975 before options.

Find out more about the Ariel Atom 3S here.

Conclusion

2017 Donkervoort D8 GTO-RS High Resolution Exterior
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The D8 GTO-RS might not be quicker than the Caterham Seven 620R and the Ariel Atom 3S, but it’s rather unique when compared with the two. It’s a lot more exclusive than the Caterham Seven and unlike Ariel, the Donkervoort brand benefits from a richer heritage that goes back nearly four decades. Sure, it’s quite expensive for the segment it competes in and its sticker rivals with that of the Porsche 911 Turbo, but with only 40 examples made, chances are you won’t see two side by side unless you attend the annual Donkervoort owners meeting. My only complaint with the D8 GTO-RS is that it is significantly heavier than the Seven 620R, but I guess it’s a feature that comes with the modern design.

  • Leave it
    • Significantly more expensive than the range-topping Caterham Seven
    • Most than half already sold before official launch
    • Not coming to the U.S.

Press Release

A step further, a step bigger, a step more extreme…! At the beginning of the year, the outside world was given a first ‘dark’ look at the Donkervoort D8 GTO-S, D8 GTO-RS as well as the D8 GTO-R planned for the end of this year. But the veil is being lifted slowly. Donkervoort is now proud to share the first glimpses of the beautiful D8 GTO-RS scheduled for introduction at the end of the summer.

2017 Donkervoort D8 GTO-RS High Resolution Exterior
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Donkervoort D8 GTO-RS | The return of a legend…
The legendary RS is back! And its ambitions are just as great as those of its predecessor, which drew the world’s attention when it set the lap record at the Nürburgring Nordschleife in 2004 and 2006.

This will be the ultimate D8 GTO! Completely redesigned over the past two years – both in terms of design and at the technical level. Even meaner, more extreme and slightly larger in size. This is clear at a glance from the design of the nose and front end: the GTO-RS has an even wilder look in its eyes.

Lots of work was also put into the improved aerodynamics, and the engine management of the Audi 2.5L R5 TFSI was optimised with the assistance of long-term partner Bosch for even more acceleration power and driving comfort. In addition to the EU6 application, the collaboration with Bosch also led to several other lap time-enhancing features, such as launch control and a double-clutch function.

Thanks to a new suspension, the GTO-RS has a wider track width, benefits of which include a stronger grip on the front axle. The brake system was also completely redeveloped.

Even more aesthetically refined, higher quality, with greater technical and functional performance; this is also reflected in the new interior of the D8 GTO-RS. Still fully made-to-measure. Also new: the RS is fitted with a carbon fibre tunnel section.

Mind you, despite all these options designed to provide the ultimate and most extreme performance, the D8 GTO-RS remains a completely street-legal sports car with associated comfort level. The lightest and fastest GTO ever built!

2017 Donkervoort D8 GTO-RS High Resolution Exterior
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The D8 GTO-RS will be introduced in the summer of 2016 as a limited edition of 40 cars and has a starting price of €151,173 excl. taxes. So far, already 21 units have been sold among the Donkervoort Ambassadors in the pre-sale period.

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