In Ford's new lineup, Merkur caters to motorists who want to 'buy European'

The big news at the world's second-largest automaker is the introduction of its Merkur XR4Ti sport coupe. ''The Merkur XR4Ti marks the initial step in our long-range marketing strategy to respond to American buyers who specifically want distinguished vehicles of European heritage,'' says Robert L. Rewey, head of Ford's Lincoln-Mercury Division.

In other words, if US motorists want to ''buy European,'' Ford doesn't intend to miss the boat.

While the Merkur was designed and engineered by Ford of Germany, it is assembled by Karmann, which also produces the Volkswagen convertible and Scirocco.

The rear-drive XR4Ti has a 2.3-liter, 4-cylinder turbocharged engine with electronic multiport fuel injection. Transmission is either a 5-speed overdrive manual or optional 3-speed automatic.

Among the carmaker's other new-product news:

Ford introduces an antilock braking system on Lincoln Continentals and Mark VIIs equipped with 5-liter V-8s.

The aero Thunderbird/Cougar gets revamped grilles, new instrument panels, and three engine options, including a reworked 2.3-liter turbo.

The division's larger sedans and station wagons, Ford LTD and Mercury Marquis , are essentially unchanged.

The Ford Tempo and Mercury Topaz have changes in power train and new instrument panels. New engine mounts reduce noise.

The Lincoln Town Car gets new bumpers, grille, fenders, and taillights.

The base drive train for the sporty Mustang GT is the 5-liter V-8 with 4 -speed automatic overdrive transmission. The GT Turbo gets new manifolds for the 145-h.p., 2.3-liter engine.

The Ford Aerostar rear-drive minivan is due to hit the road next spring with a 2.3-liter, 4-cylinder engine as the base and either a 2.8-liter V-6 or Mitsubishi-built 2.3-liter turbodiesel as optional power. The temperature in the hot minivan market will get even hotter as both GM's Chevrolet division and Ford go head to head with their across-town domestic competitor, Chrysler.

The downsized Bronco II, new a year ago, offers a 2.3-liter turbo option plus a new 4-speed automatic overdrive with 2.8-liter, V-6 power.

Ford moves ahead with its ''aero look'' as it plans the redesign of its European-inspired Escort, which will eventually reach the United States.

Tomorrow: Chrysler's '85 lineup

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