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L.A. Auto Show 2015: The 'Fiata' Jaguar XE and other highlights

The Los Angeles Auto Show opens to the public Friday. Take a look through our coverage from the two days of press previews to see photos and analysis of the latest high-tech offerings. 

Thanks for following along

 (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

If you're heading to the L.A. Auto Show on Friday, take a look at our blog below for some of the highlights on display.

A charged debate

 (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

As automakers display new plug-in hybrids and electric cars at the Los Angeles Auto Show this week, they are also drawing battle lines in a regulatory fight over California's ambitious zero-emissions vehicle targets.

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A peek inside the Galpin Hall of Customs

From the world's smallest car to Scooby Doo's Mystery Machine, the Galpin Hall of Customs has a wide variety on display.

Take a quick tour of the floor

Check out some of the cars on display at the L.A. Auto Show in this Snapchat video recap from Wednesday.

Meet 'Mr. Miata'

Among the automotive dignitaries roaming the halls of the Los Angeles Auto Show on Thursday was veteran designer Tom Matano, the man known as “Mr. Miata” and credited with the design vision behind the original 1989 two-door convertible.

What does he think of the new, fourth-generation Miata, unveiled by Mazda earlier this year?

“Not bad."

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Watch out for this in 2018

Silliest car at the show?

 (Charles Fleming / Los Angeles Times)

(Charles Fleming / Los Angeles Times)

Maybe the Galpin Hall of Custom's Mach IV Mustang -- a dragster powered by four Ford V-8 motors.

Sharp

Dear Lexus, we are coming for you. Signed, Cadillac.

 (John Locher / Associated Press)

(John Locher / Associated Press)

That was the message at the L.A. Auto Show as Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen talked about the company's just-presented XT5.

The luxury SUV, the successor to Cadillac’s successful SRX, is positioned to take on the Lexus RX -- the only vehicle that it trailed in sales.

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It's the little details

Our top picks of the L.A. Auto Show

 (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

What separates a good car from a great one?

Almost all cars are decent these days. So in judging the new models on offer at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show, we look for the potential to lift the automaker’s fortunes, push the industry forward — and, of course, for the ultimate value to the consumer.

Here are the four cars from this year’s show that we think best meet that criteria.

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Speed demons, beware

The Cadillac XT5 unveiled

Airstream is 'crushing it,' company CEO says

Airstream trailer

(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

The Airstream trailer company, from a corner of the massive Ford footprint at the L.A. Auto Show, reports a booming year.

“We’re crushing it,” CEO Bob Wheeler said from inside one of the company’s signature polished-aluminum capsules. “We’re up 18% year to date over last year.”

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And the winner is...

The CX-9 is a showstopper

A refresh for Honda's bread and butter, the Civic

 (Wieck / Honda)

(Wieck / Honda)

Honda is refreshing its bestselling sedan by bringing new powertrains and new styling to the 10th generation of this 44-year-old nameplate. This coupe follows the recent unveiling of the sedan, and will be followed by a hatchback and two sportier versions.

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Surfing L.A. traffic

Honda enters the fuel-cell market with the Clarity

Honda is officially entering the hydrogen fuel-cell segment with the Clarity. Long in the planning and testing, the Clarity will use hydrogen gas to power an electric motor, on a car that has the range and quick-fueling capacity of a gas-powered vehicle combined with the zero emissions of an electric-battery car. Like the Hyundai Tucson, it's a five-seater -- one more than Toyota's four-seat Mirai.

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Missed the show yesterday?

 (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Take a look through our photo gallery to see some of the highlights from the first day of the L.A. Auto Show.

A convertible SUV

But is it too weird?

The 2016 Range Rover Evoque is just so weird

 (Range Rover)

(Range Rover)

Quite the oddity: A two-door, four-seat, ragtop sport utility vehicle starting at $50,475.

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Fiat Chrysler's ambitious new cars raise reliability issue

 (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

In debuting two ambitious new automobiles at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Fiat Chrysler is trying to capitalize on a decades-long American love affair with Italian design.

The carmaker faces an uphill battle — the result of an equally long American distrust of Italian engineering.

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The Mercedes Benz GLS: High caliber luxury

 (Daimler AG - Global Communicatio / Mercedes-Benz)

(Daimler AG - Global Communicatio / Mercedes-Benz)

A full-size, full-luxury, seven-seat people hauler. Mercedes calls it the “S-Class among SUVs.” The automaker hasn’t released pricing, the S-Class reference – the same one applied to its flagship sedan – likely signals the starting price will rise over the GL model it will replace, which starts in the mid-$60,000 range. With options, figure easily six figures. An ultra-luxury Maybach model is also planned.

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Thanks for following along

 (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

The model debuts on Wednesday at the Los Angeles Auto Show included tiny convertibles (Fiat), big sedans (Buick, Lincoln) and crossovers of all sizes (Mazda, Ford, Kia).

Check back tomorrow morning for more coverage of the L.A. Auto Show.

A motorcycle among cars

Check out the Indian Scout Sixty – Indian Motorcycle’s new entry level offer that is designed to attract first-time riders.

These rolling sculptures combine the old with the new

Silver Lake artist Baron Margo started off by building tiny cars. Then he decided to move on to the real thing.

Not really a Fiat or a Miata -- it's a Fiata

The new Fiat 124 Spider has a powertrain made by Mazda.

Wearing the brand at the L.A. Auto Show

It’s not only cars on display at the L.A. Auto Show. Automakers are also showing off their more fashionable side with branded clothing and accessories.

'A Miata with an Italian mustache'

More on the 'Back to the Future' car

Jana Hartline from Toyota explains the "Back to the Future"-inspired Toyota Mirai.

The future of L.A. could include robotic cars

General Motors could be an owner or investor in the future robotaxi system, said Mark Reuss, the automaker's executive vice president.

And L.A. could be one of the first cities to have robotic cars and self-driving cars since they'll solve a problem and people need them, he said.

An electric Porsche is coming in 2020

Despite parent company VW's diesel difficulties, which have taken some Porsches off the road, the company also remains committed to that technology.

"It has torque and it has range, which are important to American drivers," said Porsche global head Detlev Von Platen.

Great Scott -- a car inspired by 'Back to the Future'

2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron, the hybrid with a kick

 (Audi)

(Audi)

Audi is jumping deeper into the hybrid segment. Seen as a precursor to a 2018 all-electric plug in, this vehicle is part of the German car company’s 10-year commitment to alternative-fuel technology.

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A distracted driving demonstration

There might be something missing

Yeah, it's street-legal

 (Charles Fleming / Los Angeles Times)

(Charles Fleming / Los Angeles Times)

Silver Lake-based artist Baron Margo brought his aluminum, copper and brass contraptions to the L.A. Auto Show. Powered by Mazda or VW engines, they're street-legal and ready to roll.

Need a rest?

The 2017 Bentley Bentayga is the 'fastest and most luxurious SUV'

 (Mo Satarzadeh / Bentley Motors)

(Mo Satarzadeh / Bentley Motors)

Promoted as the “fastest and most luxurious SUV” ever, this crossover attempts to marry off-road ruggedness with traditional Bentley performance and plush. And that name? It’s a reference to a rugged peak in the Canary Islands.

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A blast from the past

Jaguar XE

The future of autos: fewer humans at the wheel

 (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

In the not-so-far-off future, teens won't bother getting driver's licenses, consumers will shun owning their own cars, and taxis will be replaced by "taxibots."

That's the world described by speakers on the first day of the Los Angeles Auto Show, which was devoted to the connected car. The two-week convention in recent years has shifted its focus away from the latest car models to the newest tech innovations transforming vehicles from the inside.

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Even more from 'Star Wars'

Lexus RX Sport

Scion C-HR Concept

'It looks better today than it did when I was in high school'

 (Brian Thevenot / Los Angeles Times)

(Brian Thevenot / Los Angeles Times)

Every automotive journalist has a personal favorite car — and for about half of them it’s the Porsche 911.

That may overstate the matter, but not by much. It’s certainly true for me, and to my eye there’s no better era for the 911 than the late 1980s.

Porsche’s signature car has become more of a grand touring machine since those days — bigger, faster, more luxurious and more geared toward road trips than tight mountain switchbacks. Today, the smaller and cheaper Boxster/Cayman may be closer in spirit to the 1980s 911.

To my delight, Porsche seems to always bring one or two of its classics to the L.A. Auto Show. One recent year, it was a white 930 (a pointy-nosed, even faster 911) with the famous whale tail. This year, the storied German automaker brought a far more modest, medium gray 1988 Targa top 911.

And just look at it: the bug-eye headlights, the clean sloping profile, the flat-topped roof. It looks better today than it did when I was in high school.

A Leaf driver's verdict on the Ford C-Max Energi

2017 Fiat 124 Spider: Reintroducing a classic

 (Webb Bland / Fiat)

(Webb Bland / Fiat)

Bringing back a beloved if eccentric crowd-pleaser from the '60s and '70s, Fiat is reintroducing this classic, stripped-down, two-door, convertible roadster. Luckily, for those concerned about Fiat reliability, the engine and power train are mostly made by Mazda: This is a Miata, in other words, in Italian clothes.

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Ford C-Max Energi

Subaru '4D Experience': Not a car, but it feels like one

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz SL Roadster has an enhanced race car look

 (Mercedes)

(Mercedes)

Mercedes is refreshing the vaunted SL line, adding a 450 version to the 550 and two AMG models, bringing a slightly more affordable entry-level car to this high-end division.

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A closer look at the Kia Optima A1A

Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport

Meanwhile, sitting nearby:

Inside Honda's Clarity fuel-cell car

With its hydrogen-powered electric motor, the Honda Clarity is designed to have a 300-mile range and a fueling time of less than three minutes.

Fiat 500e Stormtrooper concept

 (Michelle Maltais / Los Angeles Times)

(Michelle Maltais / Los Angeles Times)

Keep your eyes open while driving — don't rely on the Force.

Mazda's looking at rotary engines and hydrogen fuel

 (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

As California looks to ramp up its requirements for zero-emission and low-polluting vehicles, what are Mazda's plans? Masamichi Kogai, the Japanese car company's chief executive, talked to The Times about that.

Mazda has an electric vehicle for the Japanese market and is researching hybrid systems, and "we also are looking at our rotary-engine technology," he said through an interpreter.

That technology "can combust hydrogen and use it as a fuel," Kogai said. "The engine can run as a dual-fuel system, switching between hydrogen and gasoline. We can also use rotary engines to charge the battery as a range extender in an electric vehicle."

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The 2017 Buick LaCrosse will be the quietest in its class

 (Jim Fets)

(Jim Fets)

Built by General Motors, the Buick LaCrosse is an elegant, full-size sedan designed to compete at the lower end of the luxury automobile segment. Buick hasn’t released pricing, but the car it replaces starts at $31,990. It goes on sale next summer.

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Wheels upon wheels

Honda 2&4: A go-cart for grown-ups

2017 Kia Sportage: Now with new tech and more space

 (Bruce Benedict / Kia)

(Bruce Benedict / Kia)

This will be the fourth-generation Sportage, a compact crossover that is Kia’s longest-running U.S. nameplate.

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Mobbed: Honda Civic sedan

 (Brian Thevenot / Los Angeles Times)

(Brian Thevenot / Los Angeles Times)

The new Honda Civic sedan looks terrific in black -- and is mobbed with people trying to get into it.

[ For the record, 11:43 a.m.: An earlier version of this post called the sedan a five-door. Turns out it's a four-four sedan with an extremely raked bank end -- but not a hatchback.]

For comparison, here's the show today

 (Brian Thevenot / Los Angeles Times)

(Brian Thevenot / Los Angeles Times)

This is what the Auto Show used to look like

A favorite so far, but you can't buy it

It's a Kia Optima A1A -- a concept car with suicide doors and a convertible top.

The baby-blue custom car, named after the famous coastal highway in Florida, won't be for sale. It's just an auto show attention grabber, and it's working. Curious fans gathered around the soft-top, which has a butter-cream leather interior and, under the hood, a 245-horsepower, four-cylinder engine.

 (Charles Fleming / Los Angeles Times)

(Charles Fleming / Los Angeles Times)

The 2017 Jaguar XE, a sports sedan for half the price

 (Jaguar)

(Jaguar)

A relatively affordable sport sedan – starting around $35,000 – that could help a historic and recently reinvigorated Jaguar brand break out of its niche.

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Our autos editor really doesn't like this car

Watch the reveal: Lincoln MKZ

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Alfa Romeo under guard, apparently

Which car is this?

Challenge accepted:

Awaiting the Porsche reveal

Mazda's new seven-seat crossover, the CX-9

 (Mazda)

(Mazda)

This will be Mazda’s second iteration of the CX-9, a large 7-seat crossover. Mazda has not yet announcing pricing for the new model, which goes on sale in the spring. The starting price of the current model is $30,875 including delivery fee.

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2017 Lincoln MKZ: New twin-turbocharged 400 horsepower engine

 (Lincoln)

(Lincoln)

This is a midsize luxury sedan offering three drivetrains, including a new twin-turbocharged 400 horsepower engine that Ford plans to keep exclusive to its Lincoln brand. Pricing won’t be out until early next year, but the current version starts at $35,190.

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2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio: Very fast, questionable styling

 (Fiat Chrysler)

(Fiat Chrysler)

A very fast Italian sport sedan with questionable styling and a sticker starting at about $70,000.

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2017 Ford Escape has 2 new engine choices

 (Ford)

(Ford)

Ford is refreshing its sturdy, best-selling SUV with a fourth-generation makeover that includes two new engine choices.

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2017 Infiniti QX30 aiming at new, younger customers

 (Infinity)

(Infinity)

This is a subcompact luxury crossover that Infiniti is aiming at new, younger customers.

It goes on sale in mid-2016 as a 2017 model and is new to Infiniti’s lineup. The automaker has not discussed pricing, but based on similar vehicles it is expected to start in the mid-$30,000 range.

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California is steering the automobile industry toward its future

Scenes from the Tesla car factory. (David Butow / For the Times)

Scenes from the Tesla car factory. (David Butow / For the Times)

Within walking distance of Tesla Motors' Palo Alto headquarters and across the street from Hewlett-Packard, Ford Motor Co. has set up a new Silicon Valley outpost.

With a team of 100 reporting to a former Apple engineer, the Detroit giant is researching how humans experience machines, running autonomous-vehicle driving simulations and testing software that examines how bicycles and cars interact.

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