Remember the Abarth 695 Tributo Ferrari, the hyper-expensive hot hatch fettled with some help from Maranello? Well now Fiat has tuned up its baby 500C convertible pocket rocket with assistance from Maserati.
The new limited-edition Abarth 695 Maserati Edition will carry a similarly eye-watering price tag - just 499 of the convertible hot hatch will be built and it tops a heady £32,000.
Abarth 695 Maserati Edition: what you get for £32,000
Like the Ferrari version launched three years ago, the Maser 500 uses a 180bhp 1.4 engine breathed upon by a Garrett turbocharger to liberate 184lb ft at 3000rpm when Sport mode is selected.
Abarth's Competizione transmission is standard, its five speeds slotting up and down via steering wheel-mounted paddle shifts. A sports exhaust is claimed to improve the acoustics above 3000rpm.
Brembo monobloc brake callipers are fitted to stop this minuscule missile effectively, while Koni shock absorbers give a sportier, lower ride. Not too sporty, we hope; the Tributo Ferrari was a pogoing mess on British country roads.
Err, and which bits did Maserati engineer?
Fiat swears its sporting brand has had input - and if you look hard enough, you can spot the influences. The 17in alloys have a Maserati-inspired Neptune design, apparently, and the paint is straight from the Maser colour charts - Pontevecchio Bordeaux. The foldback canvas roof is contrasting grey.
It all starts to get a bit more confusing inside, where Jaeger helped design the instrument pack, but there's the usual smattering of carbonfibre (kickplates), leather (wheel and seats) and a rather more surprising UV treatment on the door panels whose surface is described as 'flocking'.
Costs and figures
UK sales of the Abarth 695 Maserati Edition start in late 2012. And if you're fretting over that sky-high price for a tarted-up Fiat 500, remember some of the extras thrown in 'for free'. There's a set of Tramontano leather luggage, xenon headlamps, climate control, sat-nav, a JBL hi-fi and limited-edition plaque numbering each edition from 1 to 499.
It's easy to scoff at absurdities such as the Maser 500, but dealers report that these cars do sell - sometimes to customers coming out of supercars or Merc SLs, who want something smaller and more discrete but without losing the exclusivity they crave.
The 695 Maserati Edition certainly has lower running costs than most supercars, with its 151g/km CO2 rating and 46.3mpg average economy figure. Yet Abarth claims a top speed in excess of 140mph and a 0-62mph time nudging just the right side of seven seconds.