More powerful Honda hybrid coupe in the works?

A mainstream hybrid that's fun to drive. That's a novel concept, to be sure, and one targeted by Honda in the marching papers for the CR-Z coupe, which is offered with a sporty six-speed manual gearbox and is supposed to be the spiritual successor to the much-loved CRX hatchback from the 1980s.

We've yet to drive the CR-Z and we're already questioning if the 122 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque on tap from its 1.5-liter VTEC four-cylinder with Integrated Motor Assist will be enough to qualify the car as sporty. According to Motor Trend, though, Honda has a much sportier model waiting in the wings that would use either a V6 or a large 2.5-liter four mated up with the familiar IMA hybrid system. Citing rumors from Japan, MT says the future car will be roughly the size of the Accord coupe.

In related news, that aforementioned V6 hybrid powertrain is reportedly slated for both minivans and SUVs for the American market. Further, Honda is currently working on an extended-range electric system similar to the one featured in the 2011 Chevrolet Volt except that is uses a capacitor-based energy storage system. If true, we can expect to see that system featured in a future Accord.

Daimler, Renault Form Global Car Alliance

German, French and Japanese automotive conglomerates Daimler, Renault and Nissan respectively have signed a cooperate agreement that comes into effect immediately. Renault and Nissan already have a wide-ranging alliance and are both run by the same man in Carlos Ghosn.

The new agreement involves the sharing and co-development of petrol and diesel engines, a cross-pollination of shareholdings and co-operation in the commercial vehicle sector. Basically each company will end up holding a 3.1% share in the other two.

Renault is now working with Mercedes-Benz in the development of the next-generation smart fortwo and Renault Twingo, both of which will be electric powered, rear-wheel-driven and can be expected to launch in 2013.

On the engine side, Renault and Nissan will provide 3 and 4-cylinder engines (petrol and diesel) to Daimler to use in its future small premium cars. On the other hand Daimler will give some of its existing 4 and 6-cylinder petrol and diesel engines to Nissan's luxury brand Infiniti. All engines will be made to fit the characteristics of each particular brand.

Finally the three companies will be working together in the light commercial vehicle sector where Mercedes-Benz for example, will produce a new entry-level vehicle from 2012 using Renault's basic architecture.

A steering committee headed by Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche and Ghosn has been set up to manage the new alliance.

BMW M3 GT2 Art Car will Contest 24 Hours

The BMW M3 GT2 designed by artist Jeff Koons will be raced during the 24 Hours of Le Mans in mid-June. The contest takes place 11 days after the car, part of the BMW Art Car programme, is introduced to the public at the Centre Popidou in Paris.

There, Koons will present and sign the vehicle. It is the 17th Art Car commissioned by BMW, with the first having been designed in 1977 by Roy Lichtenstein.

But a different artist served as the inspiration for this model. The M3 GT2 carries number 79 as a tribute to the Andy Warhol car designed in 1979. Strangely, Warhol's car was painted with number 76 as a tribute to artist Frank Stella's 1976 model.

Koons announced that his art car will use streaks of over-saturated colors against a black background, with a silver interior. "These race cars are like life, they are powerful and there is a lot of energy," the artist said. "You can participate with it, add to it and let yourself transcend with its energy."

"There is a lot of power under that hood and I want to let my ideas transcend with the car; it's really to connect with that power," Koons was quoted as saying.

The automaker says the car is "evocative of power, motion and light." We will know for sure after the car is unveiled on June 1.