If you are launching a special edition of an iconic Italian car you could do a lot worse than team up with a luxury Italian boat maker.

So here it is, the Abarth 695 Rivale. In short it is a Fiat 500 given the hot hatch treatment by Abarth then decked out as a special edition tribute to a Riva 56 Rivale yacht.

Described as “the most sophisticated of all Abarth creations” the paintwork is two-tone Riva Sera Blue and Shark Grey, separated by an aquamarine stripe, but it is inside where the makeover really makes its mark.

There are bright blue leather sports seats and carbon-fibre on the dashboard, steering wheel and gearknob and the cockpit comes with Fiat’s Uconnect infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

A classy paint job, luxurious interior and plenty of technology successfully cloak one of Abarth’s more powerful creations.

Fire up the 1.4-litre turbocharged engine and this apparently well-behaved and mild-mannered car displays a hooligan side that can be heard coming long before it hoves into view.

Much of the credit for the soundscape goes to the brash motorsport-inspired Akrapovič exhaust, complete with carbon-fibre tips, that is fitted as standard. As the car driven here was the 695C – indicating the optional convertible roof – it allowed even more of the system’s noise inside, but it is guaranteed to put a grin on your face.

Work hard through the five-speed manual gearbox and the combination of stiff Koni suspension, nervous handling and fiery Brembo brakes make for an exciting, if sometimes unnerving, driving experience. If you are looking for quiet travel, precision handling and a comfortable ride then look elsewhere.

A much better plan than trying to explore the limits of the 178 horsepower on tap from the four-cylinder engine with its potential 140mph top speed and 0-62mph acceleration in 6.7 seconds, is to pootle around and park in all the right places alongside the beautiful people who will appreciate the charm of this glittering little gem of a car.

Whether you would pay more than £25,000 for a hot version of a Fiat 500 is clearly an individual choice. But then I would not dream of paying £3,690 for a pair of Santoni crocodile skin Oxford shoes and I bet you would never consider shelling out £1,099 for a Sage Igniter fly fishing rod.

To put it into context, when the Italian Riva yacht company would be more than happy to take more than £5m from your bank account for one of its glitzy full-size models, the price of having a matching city car waiting at the marina is a snip.

Auto facts

Model: Abarth 695C Rivale

Price: £26,640 as tested

Insurance group: 37 (1-50)

Fuel consumption (combined): 47.1mpg

Top speed: 140mph

Length: 366cm/143.7in

Width: 163cm/64in

Luggage capacity: 6.5 cu ft

Fuel tank capacity: 7.7 gallons/35 litres

CO2 emissions: 139g/km

Warranty: Three years/ 100,000 miles