“Donkervoort D8 GTO-JD70” might not roll off the tongue with ease, and it may look like the love child of a Lotus/Caterham 7 and a Transformer, but when you pack the kind of performance it does, these things don’t matter.
The D8 GTO-JD70 — so named because it’s built to celebrate company founder Joop Donkervoort’s 70th birthday — is the ultimate expression of the Donkervoort’s particular brand of insanity. Its main claim to fame is its ability to generate over 2 Gs of lateral grip on street tires — something that Donkervoort claims it’s the first company to do. Even better, the car is already making its way into customers’ hands.
If you’re not familiar with Donkervoort, you’re not alone. The brand doesn’t doesn’t sell cars in the US, but long story short, the company was started as the Dutch manufacturer of the Lotus 7 (like Caterham), but because the 7 was technically illegal on Dutch roads, the company eventually started following its own, weird evolutionary branch until its vehicles began to bear only a passing resemblance to Colin Chapman’s go-kart for grown-ups.
Now, the D8 GTO-J70 is powered by a 2.5-liter turbocharged Audi five-cylinder engine (as seen in the RS 3 and the TT RS) that produces 415 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque. This engine is mated to a five-speed manual gearbox — unusual in a world of six- and seven-speed manual transmissions, but necessary due to size constraints imposed by the chassis and the length of the engine — sourced from Tremec and modified for duty in the D8.
That chassis is a bespoke tubular steel ladder-style unit with lots of carbon fiber for weight reduction and added rigidity. The D8 GTO-JD70 weighs just 1,543 pounds, which is a truly staggering figure in a world where most 3,000-pound cars are considered light. This is the first Donkervoort to offer power steering, which isn’t surprising given the car’s lack of mass.
That lack of mass can be a mixed blessing in other ways, though, namely in braking. Finding a balance between ultimate stopping power and having enough heat in the brakes to make them work properly isn’t easy. Still, the company thinks it cracked the problem with bespoke brakes from Italian company Tarox. Bosch Motorsport ABS is also along for the ride, ditto user-selectable braking and defeatable traction control.
Needless to say, despite its unwieldy name, the Donkervoort D8 GTO-JD70 is a pretty serious car that focuses on driver engagement and performance above all else. As such, you’d expect it to be a little rough on the wallet, and you’d be right. The D8 starts at the equivalent of over $187,000 before you start adding on any of the long list of available options, but it’s probably worth it considering half the planned production run of 70 cars is already sold out.