Cougar XR-7 hits the road with power

If it's power you really want, the turbo-boosted Cougar XR-7 from Lincoln Mercury has it. Equipped with a set of Goodyear Eagle GT tires, the distinctive Cougar XR-7 - a 2.3-liter, 145-horsepower turbo beneath the hood - zips from 0 to 60 miles an hour in a shade over 9 seconds, gripping the freeway like a vise. On a rutted-road trip to the office, however, the ride was a lot less serene.

Choice of transmission is a 3-speed automatic or 5-speed manual with overdrive. Base price of the XR-7 is $13,522, although the test vehicle is $16, 303.

The XR-7 is fun to drive, that's for sure, yet its instrumentation is sparse. Whether it will grab the on-the-way-up car buffs is a question as the Lincoln-Mercury division tries to lower the average age of its Cougar buyers, now around 40. Would a Buick T-type owner switch to Cougar the next time around?

As for quality, it appears to be in line with US carmakers' efforts to compete with the imports.

In the first five months of this year, Cougar sales hit 49,793, a 118 percent jump over the same time span in 1983.

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