Car companies drone endlessly about business cases, sustainable volume, economies of scale, global models. Blah, blah, blah.
It sometimes seems like they're trying to find excuses not to make cars, as though they'd rather be selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door.
Don't you wish just for once they'd make a car – a real metal-and-glass production model, not a business case or a one-off show car – that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever?
Fiat Chrysler seems to have caught the CEO in a good mood when it signed off a limited run of what it refers to as "the world's smallest supercar".
Just add a drop of madness
It originates in a humble Fiat 500, or the 'Bambino', as Italians affectionately call it. Fiat turned it over to its racing-inspired tuning shop, Abarth, which added what it terms "a drop of madness" to come up with the completely bonkers 695 Biposto.
It's about as close as you can get to a racetrack-ready production car for less than six figures. And if you're not all about racing, it has enough street presence to turn heads.
Raw numbers don't do it justice. A turbocharged 1.4 stuffed into a tiny engine bay makes just 140kW and 250Nm; but a kerb weight of just 997kg delivers a power-to-weight ratio almost identical to a Subaru Impreza WRX STi. That results in a 0-100km/h time of 5.9 seconds and a top speed of 230km/h.
Devil's in the detail
The devilish goodness in this little demon lies in the detail. Its OZ alloys weigh just seven kilos each and carbon fibre trim is extensively used both inside and out. An Akrapovic exhaust, EXT suspension and a Poggipolini semi-rollcage are all geared toward outrageous performance.
The piece de resistance is the transmission – a racing-spec 'dog box" five-speed manual, the first such gearbox to be fitted to a road-legal car in Australia. The machined aluminium gear lever and its naked mechanicals are a work of art inside the cabin.
Stripped and ripped
Four things you won't find in the 695 Biposto are a radio, airconditioning, sound-deadening insulation or rear seats – they're not even options, a further concession to weight savings.
The 'basic' 695 Biposto retails for $65,000 (plus on-road costs), but more racing-spec gear – such as carbon-fibre seats, four-point racing harnesses, a data logger and polycarbonate windows – can be added that will push the price closer to $90,000.
Product manager Aitezaz Khan says Fiat Chrysler Australia has ordered 15 of the mad little Abarths for its Australian clientele. The company is already holding deposit for "most" of the allocation, but more stock is possible if demand outstrips supply.
"The fact this car even exists is cause for celebration," he says.