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Ford gives Mustang face lift and performance boost as sales skid

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Ford Motor Co will give its Mustang pony car a face lift, power surge and higher-tech touches to help turn around sliding US sales that led the automaker to temporarily halt production to reduce bloating inventory.

[SOUTHFIELD, Michigan] Ford Motor Co will give its Mustang pony car a face lift, power surge and higher-tech touches to help turn around sliding US sales that led the automaker to temporarily halt production to reduce bloating inventory.

The 2018 Mustang arriving in North America this fall features a lower, leaner front end and LED tail lights that resemble triple-stacked parentheses, "for a more technical look," according to a company statement. Ford will drop the V-6 engine long associated with lower-cost versions of the model. The base engine becomes a turbo-charged 4-cylinder that's getting tweaked to offer more torque.

The reworking is aimed at recovering from a 13 per cent drop in US deliveries last year, the model's first annual decline since 2013. Consumers have turned away from sports cars and embraced sport utility vehicles amid lower gasoline prices.

The shift happened just as the Mustang was roaring back to relevance thanks to a complete makeover that coincided with its 50th anniversary. Sales soared 48 per cent in 2015 and reclaimed the crown for top-selling sports car crown from General Motors Co's Chevrolet Camaro.

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The Mustang's latest look is being introduced Tuesday at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, as well as at events in Los Angeles and New York City. The car's classic V-8 engine will get more horsepower and torque, though Ford didn't immediately reveal specifics.

Ford sold 105,932 Mustangs in 2016, down from 122,349 a year earlier. In October, Ford shut its Mustang factory in Michigan for a week to reduce inventory. The Mustang still outsold the Camaro last year and remained the top-selling sports car in America.

Ford hasn't revealed pricing information for the refreshed model. The vehicle will offer a 10-speed automatic transmission and add safety and driver-assist features such as pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning and pre-collision assist.

The Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker also will is give drivers various ways to customise the car to their preferences. The car's 12-inch digital instrument cluster can be configured for different drivers and the rumble of the engine can be tailored using "a fully variable soundtrack to match the entire acceleration range," according to Ford's statement.

The car also will be offered in a new "signature" color, "Orange Fury".

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