Ford Motor Co, aiming to take back the top spot in U.S. sports car sales, will tout the improved fuel economy of the Mustang in a marketing blitz to correspond with the release of 2011 model this spring.

Ford said on Thursday that the new 3.7 liter V6 Mustang would achieve 305 horsepower and 30 miles per gallon in highway driving, as certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Both ratings are a notch above General Motors Co's  2010 Camaro, which outsold the Mustang and all other sports cars in February for the ninth consecutive month.

A Camaro equipped with a 3.6 liter V6 engine is rated at 304 horsepower and 29 miles per gallon on the highway.

Ford said late last month that it had taken nearly 11,000 orders for the 2011 Mustang, triple the number for the 2010 model at the same point in its launch.

Amy Marentic, marketing manager for Ford's cars and crossovers, said the automaker's research has shown that fuel economy is one of the major reasons that consumers rule out buying a Mustang.

The marketing campaign Ford will roll out to support the launch of the new Mustang will emphasize improvements in the fuel economy and interior of the sports car, she said.

The Mustang is a very emotional car but we're going to give people a rational reason to purchase, she said.

Ford outsold GM on an overall basis in February, the first time it had done so since 1998.

But the muscle car segment has been a historically important battleground for Detroit automakers and one of the only segments -- along with full size trucks and SUVs -- where import brands have not made significant headway.

(Reporting by Kevin Krolicki, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)