The R will come with two transmission choices: a six-speed manual and a six-speed dual-clutch automatic.

Detroit Auto Show: VW to bring Golf R and 42 mpg Passat concept

The Volkswagen Golf R will make its U.S. debut next week at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, boasting breakneck speed and standard four-wheel drive in a compact package.

The fastest and priciest variant of the popular hatchback, the R will have 290 horsepower, 34 more than the previous model. Torque jumps by 37 pound-feet to 280.

That’s a big bump over 210 horsepower in the GTI, the mainstream go-fast Golf. The R model also distinguishes itself with all-wheel drive, stiffer suspension, unique 18-inch alloy wheels, different bumpers, side skirts, LED lights, and a two-branch exhaust system with four chrome tips.

DETROIT: New from Volvo, Lexus, Mercedes, more

The improvements extend to internal engine components, says VW, including modifications to the cylinder head, pistons, injection system and turbocharger. Inside the cabin, the R gets standard leather seats and a differentiated instrument panel.

Fans of the Volkswagen Golf in the U.S. have already been...

Honda unveiled the FCEV Concept car at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

L.A. Auto Show: The five concepts you should care about

With all the flashy sheet metal automakers brought to the 2013 L.A. Auto Show competing for attention, it can be difficult to tell what to care about and what will never see production. Brands including BMW, Subaru, Mercedes-Benz, Ford, Honda, Jaguar, Nissan, Hyundai, Infiniti, and Volkswagen all brought concepts in varying forms of reality. Here’s a list of the few worth your time and why.

Jaguar C-X17: Yeah, this one’s coming to production. To be clear, Jaguar hasn’t officially confirmed it. But bring this concept up to anyone with a Jaguar label on their shirt, and you’re met with are more winks and nudges than the back room of city hall.

Consider the facts. Jaguar has a history of showing a "concept" car with a goofy name, only to turn around 18 to 24 months later with a nearly identical specimen ready for sale to the public. This is exactly what it did with the F-Type Coupe -- revealed a day before this year's L.A. Auto Show. We first saw that stunner in...

Car aficionados test-drive latest models at the L.A. Auto Show

Car aficionados test-drive latest models at the L.A. Auto Show

Going to the L.A. Auto Show isn't just about looking at the cars. You also get to drive some.

Rows of the automobile industry’s latest models are outside the Los Angeles Convention Center ready to be test-driven by the show’s attendees.

Automakers figure the best way to sell cars is to get people to try them out.

PHOTOS: L.A. Auto Show model debuts

They are looking to eventually make a sale to shoppers such as Andrew Garcia, who came down from San Jose to attend the show. He tested a 2014 Dodge Challenger last week.

He said he’s usually a Chevrolet driver, but saw the Challenger first and had to take it for a spin.

“It rides really good and has nice power on it,” Garcia said. The 25 highway mpg also impressed him.

FULL COVERAGE: L.A. Auto Show 2013

Sebastian Kressner, who is visiting the show from Germany, leapt at the opportunity to drive the Camaro, “a typical American muscle car,” which he said is not very common in Germany.

A car...

The Cadillac ELR is a plug-in hybrid vehicle based largely on the Chevy Volt.

Luxury auto brands give eco-friendly a spin

With eco-friendly cars taking center stage at the 2013 L.A. Auto Show, it was no surprise luxury carmakers wanted to tout their stuff too.

And not just far-off concepts that drivers will need to wait years for, either. BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Cadillac each brought production-ready fully electric or plug-in hybrid models.


FOR THE RECORD:
Electric vehicles: In the Nov. 23 Business section, an article about new electric cars said the BMW i3 is front-wheel-drive. The BMW i3 is a rear-wheel-drive car. —

It's not hard to see why they chose to do this at the Los Angeles show. In 2012, California accounted for 40% of new electric vehicle sales in the U.S., according to IHS Automotive, based on Polk new vehicle registrations.

Although electric cars still make up a tiny fraction of the overall market, Oliver Hazimeh, a consultant at PriceWaterhouseCoopers, says that EV and plug-in hybrid ownership is catching on at a faster rate than hybrids did when they were introduced in 2000. Their...

A 2014 Toyota Highlander converted into a "Spongebob Squarepants"-themed aquarium is on display at the L.A. Auto Show.

L.A. Auto Show: Who lives in a pineapple in a Toyota? Spongebob Squarepants

Nickelodeon's Spongebob Squarepants will be living in the back of a Toyota Highlander SUV in downtown Los Angeles for the next week.

Toyota hopes to make a splash at the L.A. Auto Show with an all-new 2014 Highlander that contains a huge aquarium with a replica of the bubbly Nickelodeon character’s underwater haunt, Bikini Bottom. Onlookers can peer into the back of the SUV and find a cheery Spongebob and lazy Patrick Star blowing bubbles near their pineapple- and rock-shaped homes. Twenty kinds of real fish -- including clownfish, flame angelfish and Fiji foxface -- swim around and through the pair of characters inside the tank.

(Sorry, kids. Squidward skipped out on the appearance, probably to practice his clarinet indoors.)

PHOTOS: L.A. Auto Show model debuts

The project took six weeks to complete. Wayde King and Brett Raymer, who run Acrylic Tank Manufacturing and host Animal Planet’s show “Tanked,” helped build the 800-gallon aquarium.

“We thought,...

Automakers fill South Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center during the 2013 L.A. Auto Show.

When is the Los Angeles Auto Show?

All the flashy concept cars, new models and cutting-edge-technology fuel cell vehicles went on public display as the L.A. Auto Show shifted gears from the industry media confab to the big consumer show Friday.

The show runs through Dec. 1 at the Los Angeles Convention Center at 1201 S Figueroa St. Admission is $10 Monday to Thursday and $12 on Fridays and weekends. There are discounts for children and seniors. On Thanksgiving Day, the doors open at 9 a.m.

FULL COVERAGE: L.A. Auto Show 2013

The show raises the curtain on dozens of new models — new BMW electric and hybrid vehicles, fuel cell cars from Hyundai and Honda, a new Jaguar coupe, a new Porsche crossover and the new Chevrolet Colorado midsize pickup.

Among the more unusual vehicles is the Mercedes-Benz Vision Gran Turismo, an over-the-top supercar. Mercedes will never build another one or sell it. It simply wanted to give its top designers free rein to dream big – no limits. But it will show up in a video game.

ALSO:...

Hyundai designers and creators of "The Walking Dead" collaborated on a unique limited edition of the Tucson.

L.A. Auto Show: Hyundai debuts 'Walking Dead' Tucson

Zombie invasion getting in the way of your daily commute? Fear not! There’s a zombie-proof version of the Hyundai Tucson, inspired by TV show and graphic novel series “The Walking Dead.”

The car, scheduled to go on sale in March, coincides with the 10th anniversary of the graphic novels, said Brandon Ramirez, the senior group manager of product planning for Hyundai.

Hyundai designers and creators of “The Walking Dead” collaborated on the design to create “something unique for consumers,” Ramirez said.

PHOTOS: L.A. Auto Show model debuts

With what Hyundai calls an Ash Black exterior and splashes of red accent graphics, which Ramirez said resemble bloodstains, it is certainly not the average car.

Floor and cargo mats in the car are also customized to look like they have bloodstains.

Consumers can choose stickers that flaunt which faction from the graphic novel series they align with, including Hilltop, Kingdom, Saviors and Survivors.

FULL...

The monitor on the new Honda Civic accepts smartphone-like gestures, such as spreading fingertips apart on the screen to zoom in. It's one of several features that could make any car safer or more comfortable.

L.A. Auto Show: Five tech features that need to come to cars

Most of the cars on display at the Los Angeles Auto Show through Dec. 1 have all the basic tech functionality you’d expect, including radios, voice command capability and Bluetooth to connect phones.

Many cars have audio jacks and USB ports. Some have navigation systems and back-up cameras. A few even have CD or DVD players.

But there are at least five useful tech tools that rarely appear or don’t exist at all.

PHOTOS: L.A. Auto Show model debuts

Dashboard cameras. From beautiful shots of sunsets to unattractive selfies taken while in motion, drivers can’t help but pick up their phones to take photos. These drivers could be tamed with a bidirectional camera that sits atop or within the panel behind the steering wheel.

Voice commands or yet another button affixed to the steering wheel could trigger the shutter. The photo could be saved via Bluetooth to the user’s phone, from where it could be safely posted to Instagram or sent through Snapchat at a later time or...

No one wants to see a snowy screen on their car entertainment system, like the one pictured from a Bentley. Car makers are improving the tech in cars, but making a few missteps along the way.

L.A. Auto Show: Five car tech features that are a waste of space

Automakers want to build as much functionality into dashboard screens as possible so that users never need to pick up their smartphones while driving. But along the way, a few very odd and unnecessary features have caught on in the infotainment systems of cars.

Here’s a look at silly features spotted in cars displayed on the Los Angeles Auto Show floor.

Picture navigation. Audi kicked things off at the Auto Show on Tuesday by unveiling the A3, the first vehicle that can connect directly to a 4G LTE mobile network. With that, the German automaker introduced a feature it’s calling picture navigation.

PHOTOS: L.A. Auto Show model debuts

Imagine trying to meet some friends at a beach. They say they are by lifeguard tower six, but where exactly that is and what’s the closest parking to that tower is unclear.

You ask one of your friends to text you a picture from the spot. Once received, you download the picture and open it up in Audi’s smartphone app. The app can pull...

The Dodge exhibit and two anniversary-edition cars at the L.A. Auto Show trace the brand's history over its first 100 years.

L.A. Auto Show: Dodge celebrates its 100th anniversary

Looking to its 100th anniversary in 2014, Dodge offered a glimpse of its centennial celebration at the L.A. Auto Show, with two anniversary-edition cars on display and an exhibit tracing the brand’s history.

In 1900, brothers Horace and John Dodge founded Dodge Brothers in Detroit, but sold only parts until they produced their first full-scale car in 1914.

To commemorate the upcoming anniversary, artifacts of Dodge history were on display at the show, including a wrench used at Dodge Brothers, a patent the men received for bicycle wheel bearings, and a Wright Brothers’ bicycle seat. Dodge also exhibited a letter written by the brothers that apparently prefaced a price sheet for auto parts, in addition to a timesheet from 1904 listing the hours Dodge Brothers employees worked one week.

PHOTOS: L.A. Auto Show model debuts

Though the anniversary marks the company’s beginnings, the celebration focuses most of its attention on the brand’s heydey in the muscle car...

Honda unveils its FCEV concept car at the 2013 L.A. Auto Show.

L.A. Auto Show: Hydrogen vs. electric -- which is superior?

Hydrogen fuel cell cars were the big talk of the L.A. Auto Show this week -- but will they catch on?

That’s the question we put to some of the top auto industry executives in the United States. We were looking for insight into what will be the dominant zero emission car technology 20 years from now, cars powered by hydrogen or electric vehicles with rechargeable batteries?

Opinion was divided.

PHOTOS: L.A. Auto Show model debuts

The North American CEOs from Honda, Toyota and Hyundai -- all companies that said during the show that they plan to bring hydrogen cars to market within two years -- voted for hydrogen.

Honda believes that fuel cells will be “the ultimate technology for the future,” said Tetsuo Iwamura, president and chief executive of the Americas, Honda Motor Co.

They have the driving distance and refueling time that consumers want, but he conceded that they will be held back in the near term because “the technology is expensive and we don’t have...

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