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Volkswagen Golf wins Car of the Year; new models announced in Geneva

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The 2013 Geneva Motor Show is set to start Tuesday, but Volkswagen is already having a good week.

The VW Golf was named European Car of the Year on Monday, gathering more than twice the votes than the second-place Subaru BRZ. Volvo's V40 was third. The prestigious award is chosen by automotive journalists in more than 20 countries.

The Golf also won the award in 1992 and has finished on the podium five times since it was introduced in 1974. The seventh generation of the car recently went on sale in Europe and will land in U.S. dealerships in spring 2014.

Monday's win comes on the heels of news of three variants of the Golf. The latest models will be the Golf GTI, GTD and Golf Wagon.

The GTI will have a 2.0-liter turbocharged, direct-injected four-cylinder engine. It will make 220 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. That's a boost from the current model's output of 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque.

The front-wheel-drive GTI will come with either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed dual-clutch gearbox, known as the DSG. VW says the GTI with a manual transmission will do zero-62 mph in 6.5 seconds, and should get 39.2 mpg in highway driving.

An optional performance pack boosts horsepower to 230 and adds bigger brake rotors and a torque-sensing limited slip differential. VW is still considering whether to bring this option to the U.S. when the GTI goes on sale next spring, but color us surprised if it doesn't.

All GTI models will differentiate themselves from lesser Golfs with red brake calipers, twin chrome tailpipes, a lowered sport suspension, LED taillights, 17-inch wheels and various exterior trim upgrades.

Golf fans who want their performance in diesel form have the GTD to consider. Though this version has been available in Europe for decades, VW is only now considering whether to bring it to the U.S. It would be positioned above VW's other Golf diesel -- the TDI -- which is already sold in the U.S.

The latest version of the GTD will have a turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine that makes 184 horsepower and a stout 280 pound-feet of torque. Like all Golfs, the GTD will come with either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed dual clutch transmission. VW says the car will do zero-62 mph in 7.5 seconds, when equipped with a manual transmission.

Finally, Golf fans looking for more practicality have the Golf Wagon to consider. In the U.S., this car effectively replaces the Jetta SportWagen, which was actually built on a Golf platform.

VW hasn't decided what to actually call this wagon when it goes on sale in the U.S. at the end of 2014. Regardless of what it's called, the Golf wagon will come with either a gas or diesel engine.

VW says about 80% of current SportWagons in the U.S. are diesels. The new diesel engine will be turbocharged like its predecessor and will see a 10 horsepower bump, to a total of 150.

Meanwhile, the gas engine in the U.S. model will likely be a 140-horsepower turbocharged unit. All models will use an engine start/stop feature and battery regeneration to bump up fuel economy.

Volkswagen said Golf models headed to the U.S. market will be built at the same Puebla, Mexico, plant that currently builds the Jetta and Beetle for the U.S. market.

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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