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Ford’s 2016 Mustang moves forward by looking back with some retro options

Redesigning an icon is never easy, but Ford pulled it off with the 2015 Mustang, creating a car that both stays true to 50 years of Mustang heritage, and the tricks to stay competitive with rivals from both home and abroad.

It’s a tough act to follow.

The second model year of a given design is often called the “sophomore slump,” because said models are still fresh enough that major changes are unnecessary. Nonetheless, the 2016 Ford Mustang gets some small but significant changes to keep customers interested.

The current Mustang already has plenty of retro styling, but Ford is adding another for 2016. Turn-signal indicators mounted on the hood vents first appeared on the 1967 Mustang, and now they’re back by popular demand. Ford says Mustang fans have been “clamoring” for this unusual feature.

Mustangs equipped with the Premium Package also get the new Sync 3 infotainment system, which is rolling out across the Ford lineup as a replacement for Sync with MyFord Touch.

Ford says the new system will perform much better than its predecessor, which drew plenty of criticism for a clunky interface and other issues.

The Blue Oval is also adding more personalization options, including racing stripes, a Pony Package for the four-cylinder EcoBoost model, and a Black Accent Package for the V8 Mustang GT.

Related: Roush’s Stage 3 Mustang boasts 670 horsepower

The California Special package also returns for the Mustang GT. This started out in the 1960s as a way to dress up a standard GT with some of the styling cues from high-performance Shelby Mustangs, and was revived in 2006.

For 2016, California Special models get their own 19-inch wheels, a model-specific grille, front splitter, hood and side stripes, strut-tower brace, some unique interior trim, and a black pedestal spoiler.

On a more substantive note, the 2016 Mustang GT convertible is now offered with the Performance Package. Buyers have to opt for the manual transmission, and get a limited-slip differential, six-piston Brembo front brake calipers, a larger radiator, special chassis and stability-control tuning, beefed-up suspension, and other go-fast features.

These features will certainly add to the Mustang’s caché, but the real question is how Ford’s pony car will stand up to the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro, which will be unveiled next week. The latest version of the Mustang’s greatest rival should provide some stiff competition.