Donkervoort makes some of the bat-crap crazy cars you can buy and not be considered entirely deranged. The Dutch boutique automaker started in 1978, making fully hand-built kits of the Lotus/Caterham 7 for a customers in continental Europe, while adding a bit of their own secret sauce.
By the early 2000s, their ambitions had grown beyond that, leading up to the creation of the D8, an open wheel lightweight sports car that was clearly their modern interpretation of what the 7 could be. The car was wider, more refined, and more powerful.
For the past decade and a half, the company has been producing more and more D8s, with each batch introducing slight improvements over the last. So far, this has culminated in their newest, the GTO-JD70, a limited run version that boasts even more go-fast capability, to celebrate the 70th birthday of founder Joop Donkervoort.
Aptly capped at 70 examples, the JD70 is differentiated by its stiffened suspension, adjustable anti-roll bars, and three-way adjustable dampers. Meanwhile, a revised nose section, new wheels, and an obscured exhaust system helps reduce weight and improve aerodynamics. Around bends, Donkervoort says that the car is capable of pulling 2G of lateral acceleration even on standard road tyres.
Face-bending cornering forces aside, the car is perhaps most readily set apart by its engine. Granted, Donkervoort has long been slotting in Audi’s 2.5-litre turbocharged straight-5 into the D8, but this newest version receives the most potent one yet.
Most known as the heart of cars like the TT RS and RS 3, the TFSI five-pot has been further tuned to deliver a beastly 309kW and 520Nm. That’s ample power when it’s strapped to a car that has a kerb weight of under 700kg thanks to copious use of carbon fibre in its construction, a lightweight lithium-ion battery, and carbon bucket seats.
Drive reaches the rear wheels via a five-speed manual transmission and a new mechanical limited slip differential. Additionally, a new rev-matching system has been co-developed with Bosch to ensure quicker shifts and smoother operation. Shame, then, that Donkervoort has declined to reveal just how much faster the JD70 is to accelerate.
Thankfully, the 2.5-litre inline-5 from Audi is known for being one of the best sounding motors in production today, especially when you narrow that spectrum to only turbocharged engines, such that it is. So you might not really care about being a few tenths quicker/slower than the next D8.
With a frenetic note that screams like a mini-V10, the sensation is only amplified in a car as basic as the Donkervoort. However, accessing it doesn’t entail bagging one of the limited run JD70, as the company installs the same engine in all D8 GTOs, albeit in a lower state of tune.