• Around 22 world debuts expected
  • A mix of upscale and high-mpg cars
  • And probably a few famous faces

Anticipation for the 2012 LA Auto Show keeps building. Never mind that North America will get to see the 2014 Mazda6 midsize sedan for the first time, or that the 2014 Subaru Forester--representing the car's fourth generation--will make its world debut right next door to where the Lakers play.

We'll take an interest in the all-electric version of the FIAT 500, find out who wins Green Car of the Year and enjoy a car tailor-made for Southern California: the 2013 VW Beetle Convertible. But these are all threads in a much richer fabric.

The LA Auto Show has been growing steadily in stature and significance. Rightfully so, since this part of the world is a major hub of car culture, and a huge market for luxury brands in particular. Whenever some exotic machine goes on sale, be it a Tesla Model S, Fisker Karma or Ferrari 599 GTO, chances are it will be spotted on Sunset Boulevard within a week.

Celebrities venture downtown from their Bel Air mansions or Malibu beach houses. Jerry Seinfeld, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Paula Patton (from "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol") have made appearances in the recent past.

And as far as North American auto shows go, Los Angeles in the fall is way nicer than Detroit in the icy grip of January. This all helps to make tinseltown an attractive venue for many aspects of the auto industry. Along with the usual badges--such as Chevrolet, Toyota, Ford, etc.--come names like Intel and Sprint. As cars become more computerized and interconnected, tech companies play a greater part. And this show will be demonstrating what's available as well as what's on the near horizon.

Since SoCal is the happy place many German car execs think of whenever their global sales graphs start to dip, we can expect some high-end Teutonic metal. Porsche is pulling the wraps from a new version of the Cayman, the tin-top based on the same platform as the mid-engined Boxster roadster.

For much more power, there's the 622-horsepower 2014 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series.

Also high-end and Teutonic, but not with so much metal, is the BMW i8 Spyder. This confection of carbon fiber and aluminum is the open-top version of BMW's hybrid sports car concept, whose fixed-roof counterpart made quite a splash at last year's LA show.

Electric cars and plug-in hybrids feature heavily in the more than 40 unveilings we're expecting this year, including a battery-powered version of the new-generation Toyota RAV4, a similarly sparky Chevrolet Spark and an as-yet-undisclosed Ford EV.

Economical gasoline power is represented by the revamped 2013 Honda Civic compact. Its distant relation, the 2014 Acura RLX mid-to-large sedan, also debuts here.

The 2012 LA Auto Show press days are set for Nov. 28 and 29, while the public has access from Nov. 30 to Dec. 9. AutoTrader.com will be posting all the juicy details from the show floor.

What it means to you: This is the first event of the new show season where we get to see so many fresh cars for the North American market.

author photo

Colin Ryan has driven hundreds of cars thousands of miles while writing for BBC Top Gear magazine, Popular Mechanics, the Los Angeles Times, European Car, Import Tuner and many other publications, websites, TV shows, etc.

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