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XCAR: Donkervoort GTO: Going Dutch on the Lotus Seven
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XCAR: Donkervoort GTO: Going Dutch on the Lotus Seven

9:41 /

Dutch manufacturer Donkervoort puts an aggressive spin on the old Lotus Seven design to deliver a car that can put many super cars to shame. XCAR checks it out.

[MUSIC] Colin Chapman has a lot to answer for. His take on how to make cars go quickly, not only ensured his creations did very well on the world's race tracks, it also ensured that his company, Lotus, made a **** ton of fun, fast, light cars. They still do. However, the road car that Collin will likely be remember for is the Lotus seven. A car that not only in the right circumstances is brilliant but has inspired countless others. You and I could name countless companies that have their own take on the Lotus seven. Cateran, Tigo, West Field you name it. But hows about one that's taken the concept, and made it all Dutch? This is Donkervoort. [MUSIC] [NOISE] This is the Dankervoort D8-GTO, the latest car from the mind of Joop Dankervoort and his team. Yorb's first car, the Super Seven was introduced in 1978, and it was his take on the Lotus Seven. It was small, light weight, and by all accounts a good giggle. Their Seven eventually turned into the D8. The D8 steadily evolved to have more power. turbo charges and less weight, thanks to extensive use of carbon fiber. Donkervoort took a D8 racing and managed to take the top spot at the Dubai 24 hours. Rather than rest on its laurels though, it took all it had learned and applied it to the GT and GTO, the most extreme Donkervoort yet. [MUSIC] So the car we're driving right now isn't your average DAGTO. This is the prototype car. This is car number one, as it were, Genesis. There's no disguising its Lotus S looks. There's a big phallic bonnet up front. The seats are pretty over the rear axel. And of course, there is no room for anything. However, that big willie bonnet is needed, because it hides. A two and a half liter, turbocharged, five-cylinder engine from Audi. The same one you get in the RSG-3, the old TTRS, and the old RS-3. In those cars, it produced anywhere from 300 to 350 horsepower. In this, it produces 380. Now, when you bear in mind. This thing weighs 695 kilos. That gives it a power to weight ratio of 546 watts per ton. That's more that the original Bugatti Veyrons. That in turn means it is blisteringly fast. Novial 62 takes 2.8 seconds and it's top speed is 168 miles an hour. To get a car to go that quickly and be that light though, you need to make a few sacrifices. The engineering in this thing is absolutely staggering this isn't just. A Lotus Seven knockoff, no, it's like a Lotus Seven has mated with a Mac or a Transformer. Everything is carbon fiber to keep the weight down as low as possible. And then, the technology in here, in order to save weight but keep it safe, it's incredible. The doors can take a one and half ton impact [NOISE] And latches on the bonnet are the same you'll find in the American rocket industry. But to keep the weight down even further, Lancaster didn't stop at that. They did without any creature comforts, and by creature comforts I mean things like power steering, ABS, servo assisted brakes. So basically to get this thing to turn or stop. You're battling friction like a proper old school car. There is one concession to modern driving. There is traction control, though I'm told that's only for use in the wet. I mean, seriously, who'd want traction control in a lightweight car with 380 horsepower in the drive? Pansies, that's who. There's a couple more things to mention. Not only is its nought to 62 time crazy fast, its nought to 124 time is 8.6 seconds. Slightly less than it takes a diesel Audi A6 to reach 62 miles an hour. Then there's the rarity of the thing. Donkervoort's initial run of D8 GTOs is 25 cars, and each of them will set you back nearly 100,000 pounds. So, it's rare, incredibly fast, has no safety net, and it's worth more than most people will earn in four years. Right. [MUSIC] Stepping out of the prototype version, number one, and into this, which is, well, a brand spanking new road style, the difference is, well the differences are massive. The interior's much more shiny. In the prototype, there were two motor traction control, and in this one there's five. There's a sport function. There's a launch button. It's all carved in fibery and beautiful. Also, the turbo has changed. In the other car, when the noise was just epic, a big angry growl, but in this. Cuz when you put your foot down, the turbo screams. And it's a bit quick too. Also, the gear box is a lot easier to use. I think it might be because that one a bit abused, and the handling, the suspension set ups been tweaked as well. Just a little bit more driver friendly, where as the prototype was something of a monster, if you poked it a little bit just in the wrong place, it would let you know that it was about to rip your face off. With this, on the [UNKNOWN] is nicely balanced. It's very much focused on letting the driver have a really good time, but not mollycoddling them. I spoke to one of the guys from Donkervoort, and they say the goal with this car is to create something that you can enjoy on a country road or you can enjoy in the. Ginger on a track and you know that you're the one doing all the work. The car's just there to make sure that you have the most fun possible. They wanted to get every single aspect of that right, from the pleasingly heavy steering with amazing feedback. And then of course, the engine, which is epic. The performance [UNKNOWN] managed to extract from this engine is nothing short of astounding because it weighs so little and you get this onslaught of noise and the torque pushes you forward. And when you're on zone, the turbo screams, begging you to go faster. you get the wind rushing into the cabin. And, you do feel like you're going a lot faster than you actually are. We're currently going at around 80 kilometers an hour, but it feels much, much quicker than that. What some Cobalts manage to do, is they've managed to combine the best bit of Caterham and Lotus and a little bit of Audi RS. Cuz you get the agility you find in a Caterham, you get the balance and the comfort you get in a Lotus. And then you get the maddening power of a TT RS. And at the same time, and with that. It's a little bit of race car. That little bit of manicness that makes you want to hold on, but push harder, corner harder and discover the limits of its grip, which are blazingly hard to find. [NOISE] And there's a special reason for having one of these. Over something a little bit more British. This has pushed the game forward. it's all carbon fiber, it's all lightweight. The handling is simply sublime but you get brutal power that doesn't bite you. In higher power cashions you get the impression that one wrong twist of the ankle and you're gonna go in lots of different directions all at once. With this you do. You respect it, it will respect you. [MUSIC] When it comes down to it the DAGTO isn't about simply making the fastest or the best. There's more to it than carbon fiber and big power. Is the passion behind it. The same passion that goes with every low volume car manufacturer. They want to make a car that's truly their's, that has their own stamp on it. That they'll be seen as one of the targets. Look up [UNKNOWN], there's more there than big numbers. There's soul, creativity, and in a weird way, a little bit of love. And it's the same here. This isn't simply. Seven plus this is Yo Donkavut's baby. When he built the first Donkavut, the S7, in the late 70s he set about on a journey not just to create another lineup of lotus 7 clones, but to push the boundary further, further than even Catron would go, let's face it, Catron is the official lotus 7 fanclub. You've made his dream car and we're really lucky he'll share it with us. [MUSIC]

Alex Goy is XCAR's Cars Editor. He loves all things on four wheels and has a penchant for British sports cars - the more impractical the better. He also likes tea.

Nick Wilkinson
Video Producer / XCAR

Nick Wilkinson is XCAR's Producer, so can either be found huffing serious quantities of exhaust fumes armed with a camera or making a montage of some kind. His background is in video, and as a film and motorsport nut finds himself in heaven most weekdays

Drew Stearne
Content Director & Editor / XCAR

Drew Stearne heads up the XCAR team and has spent the last 7 years producing content for CNET, GameSpot and many other CBS Interactive sites. He's equally obsessed with fast cars as he is with filming and photography, if he isn't involved with one, he tries to make sure he's involved with the other.