2021 Ford GT quick drive review: Still so special

Ford's GT is no longer the new hotness, but it's an exciting supercar that still turns heads -- especially at Monterey Car Week.

Code Orange is a new color for 2021.
Steven Ewing/Roadshow

The Ford GT isn't the newest, quickest, fastest, rarest or most-expensive car driving down California's Highway 1 during Monterey Car Week, but based on the crowd's reaction, you'd never know. It's a supercar that's met with shoulder slaps and "Dude, check it out" at every intersection, and the only person smiling wider than the enthusiastic onlookers is, well, me.

Driving the Ford GT is an experience. The dihedral doors don't lift quite as far as I want, making the shimmy into the cabin extremely unglamorous. The seat in this car was clearly designed for someone much taller than me, and while the pedals do move and the steering wheel telescopes slightly, at 5 feet, 8 inches tall, I'm still arms out and legs crunched. (Maybe I should've used a pillow.)

Yet somehow, all this pre-drive hokey-pokey feels appropriate. Like strapping into a race car, the GT isn't a car you just get in and drive. You need to take stock of the GT's compromised sightlines and give yourself a crash course on the squircle steering wheel's controls. Yeah, the rotary gear selector was clearly ripped from a Fusion, but the rest of the GT's cabin is like no other Ford you've ever seen.

Hit the engine start button and the GT's twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 comes to life with a bark before settling into a hum. I definitely miss the purr of a V8 or the whirr of a V10, but it's hard to complain about 660 horsepower, especially when it runs through a quick-shifting seven-speed dual-clutch transmission to a set of fat rear tires. The 660-hp spec is a 13-hp increase compared to when the GT launched, all thanks to larger air intakes that allow the engine to breathe better. The accompanying 550 pound-feet of torque is the same as before, but trust me, it's plenty.

Accelerating to 60 mph takes a scant 3 seconds, and Ford says the GT tops out at 216 mph. Highway 1 during Monterey Car Week is hardly the place to test either of those claims, but after a couple of hard throttle stomps and a few fast corners, there's no doubt in my mind the GT is a riot. The steering is heavy and alive; the carbon-fiber tub vibrates with communication. The GT is as quick, direct and precise as any other supercar, but it's got a slightly raucous edge -- an unexpected shimmy here and there reminding you not to goose the throttle before exiting a hairpin turn. Traction control can only do so much.

This car definitely brightens up a foggy day.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

On the other hand, the GT is comfortable, and more so than you might expect. A lot of modern supercars are shockingly docile when driven gingerly, and while the GT is still more Goofus than Gallant compared to, say, a McLaren 720S, it's hardly the pain-in-the-ass chore I thought it'd be while chugging through downtown Carmel. Sure, there's the occasional sub-5-mph clunk when I'm just inching forward at a stoplight, but I can't fault Ford for that -- just look at this freaking thing. Plus, this specific test car's had a hard life: It's actually one of the early GT test cars retrofitted with the 660-hp upgrade and a fresh coat of Code Orange paint.

All told, the GT isn't perfect, but it's an immensely special machine. Maybe it's the bright new color or this car's relative rarity, but in a place where the coolest exotics often struggle to stand out, the GT is nothing but a rolling wave of excitement -- especially for whoever's behind the wheel.