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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.

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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.

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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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