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Autumn 2018Everyone loves an Alfa Romeo

Everyone loves an Alfa Romeo, right?

Even a certain Mr Clarkson reckons you’re not a proper petrol-head until you’ve owned one. So, hands up anyone who has actually bought one... thought not.

You see, when it comes to our cars we’re a pretty conservative lot. We are beguiled by beauty but when it comes to laying down cash the desire dissipates, the ‘sensible hat’ is put on and we leave the forecourt in something German or Japanese.

However, you can now keep the desire alive, leave the hat on and drive away in an Alfa Romeo because the new Giulia is possibly the best driving executive saloon on the planet and is what all Alfisti (collective term for people who love Alfa Romeos) have been hankering for since the demise of the RWD Alfetta GT back in the 80s.

The Giulia is a true sporting Alfa with rearwheel drive, lightweight body, low centre of gravity, punchy engines and gorgeous looks. Okay, it isn’t available with a manual gearbox but trust me, you won’t care once you’ve driven one as the eight-speed ZF auto box is an absolute cracker.

I could wax lyrical here about the £61,595 Giulia Quadrifoglio with its Ferrari-inspired (ahem) V6 engine, 510 bhp and top speed of 193 mph, but we will concentrate, for now, on the more mainstream models.

There are three engines to choose from - a 2.2 diesel with either 150 bhp or 180 bhp, a 2.0 litre petrol with 200 bhp or - in Veloce trim only - a 2.0 litre petrol with 280 bhp.

Prices start at £29,875 OTR for the Giulia 2.0 petrol and rise to £38,260 OTR for the Veloce which features an upgraded braking system.

I’ve been driving a mid-range Giulia Super 2.2 diesel with 180 bhp (from £33,315 OTR), which is expected to be the best-selling Giulia as it emits just 109g/km of CO2 and is capable of 67.3 mpg on the combined cycle, despite being able to hit 60 mph in just 7.1 seconds, and go on to a top speed of 143 mph.

The 150 bhp version has exactly the same consumption and CO2 figures but is a second slower to 60 mph.

From the outside you have to say that Alfa has once again produced a very good-looking car. From the front there is no mistaking it for any other marque with that large V-shaped grille and large, open front vents either side. The swooping headlights are angled down slightly at the front and give the impression the car is eyeing you suspiciously - it’s dramatic and appealing too.

All models look sporty from any angle as the Giulia is quite low-slung with a slightly raised backside. The Super features dual exhausts left and right, which adds appeal at the back and to my eyes it’s better looking than its main rivals, the BMW 3-Series, Mercedes C-Class and the Audi A4. I would say it even pips the striking Jaguar XE in kerb-appeal.

Inside, Alfa has made a huge effort to draw level with the Germans on quality of fit and finish, but not quite pulled it off. Some of the lower plastics feel a little on the hard side and the infotainment scroll wheel feels lightweight although generally you won’t find much to complain about.

Alfa has delivered a sporting saloon that is easy to live with and very hard to beat when it comes to driving satisfaction. I also managed 48 mpg on mixed roads with quite a bit of town driving.

Mercedes, BMW, Audi and Jaguar all produce very capable sporting saloons but as things stand I would say the Giulia has them beat for sheer satisfaction behind the wheel.

Alfa is back.

VERDICT: *****