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Future models - Abarth - 695 Tributo Maserati

Geneva show: Fiat’s micro-Maserati cabrio

Chic and small: Abarth has followed up its successful limited edition 695 Tributo Ferrari with a new version that pays homage to fellow Italian marque Maserati.

First came the Fiat 500-based 695 Tributo Ferrari now meet the mini-Maserati cabrio

Abarth logo22 Feb 2012

By MARTON PETTENDY

FLUSHED with the success of its limited-edition 695 Tributo Ferrari hot-hatch, no fewer than 85 of which were snapped up in Australia last year despite costing more than three times as much as the Fiat 500 upon which it was based, Abarth’s local distributor is hoping to secure supplies of the 695 ‘Tributo Maserati’.

However, if it does so, the mini-Maserati cabrio, which makes its debut at the Geneva motor show on March 6, is likely to cost even more than the Ferrari-inspired hot-hatch ($69,990 plus on-road costs) and will not arrive here until next year.

“We are considering it for the Australian market after the success of the Abarth 695 Tributo Ferrari but it would not arrive here until next year at the earliest,” said Ateco Automotive spokesman Edward Rowe.

Like Aston Martin’s upcoming Cygnet city-car, which is based on Toyota’s iQ city-car and designed to ease the conscience of owners of its more profligate sportscars, Fiat’s latest limited-edition Abarth 500 combines the environmental responsibility of micro-car with the exclusivity of a Maserati.

60 center imageLeft: Abarth 695 Tributo Maserati. Below: The Tributo Ferrari, Mini Goodwood and Aston Martin Cygnet.

At least in this case, the mini-Maserati is based on a model within the Italian conglomerate’s own stable, like the Goodwood-edition Mini – 10 examples of which were secured by BMW Australia in January at a cost of $74,500 plus ORCs, or over $30,000 more than the Cooper S upon which it is based – that was said to be co-developed with Rolls-Royce.

While only 1000 mini-Rollers were to be built, more than 1500 mini-Ferraris have been delivered globally since July 2008, meaning the 695 Maserati - just 499 of which will be built - will be even more exclusive than the Prancing Horse 500, second-hand examples of which now command even higher asking prices in markets like North America.

Described by Fiat as “a genuine gran turismo convertible”, the Abarth 695 Tributo Maserati is based on the Fiat 500C convertible that is priced from $25,990, and like the 695 Ferrari ditches the 875cc two-pot that delivers 62.5kW and 145Nm of torque in the standard 500 TwinAir hatch (now priced from $22,900).

The 695 Tributo Maserati also offers more performance than the standard Abarth 500 Esseesse, which will be launched in the US next month and arrived here in cabrio guise this summer, priced from $38,990 and powered by a 118kW/230Nm turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol four.

In its place will be the same 132kW/250Nm 1.4-litre T-Jet turbo petrol four that powers the 695 Tributo Ferrari, which scores a fixed-vane Garrett 1446 turbocharger and variable back-pressure dual-mode exhaust system designed to improve engine performance and sound above 3000rpm.

As with the Scorpion-brand’s 500 Esseesse, peak power occurs at 5750rpm, but maximum torque rises to 250Nm at 3300rpm in Sport mode. The higher power and torque outputs are claimed to reduce 0-100km/h acceleration to less than seven seconds and top speed to 225km/h.

Like the 695 Ferrari, that should make the 695 Maserati much quicker than the 118kW/230Nm 500 SS, which sprints to 100km/h in 7.4 seconds (on to a top speed of 211km/h) – well up on the standard 500 TwinAir’s tardy 11 seconds.

Full details will not be announced until Geneva, but expect the 695 Maserati to also feature the 695 Ferrari’s exclusive, faster-shifting ‘C510’ version of the 500’s optional five-speed Dualogic automated single-clutch manual transmission with Ferrari-style steering column-mounted shift paddles, dubbed MTA (Manual Transmission Automated).

Like the 695 Ferrari, the burgundy-coloured Maserati version should also come with unspecified weight savings, which in the former’s case is partly due to the fitment of exclusive equipment such as ‘Abarth Corsa by Sabelt’ sports seats lifted directly from the racetrack and featuring a carbon-fibre shell and seat base.

If the Ferrari-inspired 500 is any guide, the 695 Maserati should also come with real all-alloy pedals with Scorpion logos, a dash-top turbo boost gauge, flat-bottomed steering wheel with black leather cladding and a red-white-blue rim insert, and a Jaeger-designed instrument panel with a 240km/h speedo and 6000rpm tacho.

The 695 Ferrari also came with a lower, firmer front strut/rear torsion beam suspension package comprising shorter springs and stiffer dampers, plus an even beefier Brembo brake package than the Esseesse’s, featuring larger 305mm cross-drilled and ventilated front brake discs (up from the SS’s 284mm) that can be disassembled and are gripped by four-piston fixed red Brembo callipers with HP 1000 high-performance front brake pads.

The latter bulge out from behind Ferrari inspired (but still 17-inch like the Esseesse) ‘ET 35’ alloy wheels with 205/40-section Z-rated performance tyres, while interior carbon highlights including a full-width dash panel are complimented on the outside by a real carbon-fibre front lip spoiler, B-pillar covers and wing mirror scalps, plus Racing Grey alloy wheels.

Other interior highlights of the 695 Ferrari included a non-slip aluminium front passenger footwell, unique scuff plates and an individually numbered build plate.

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