IT'S always rather exciting when a new model is unleashed and that was the case when Alfa Romeo unveiled the rather stunning and beautifully sculpted Guilia.
I say new, but in truth the first Giulia was seen back in the early 60s, but the latest incarnation is guaranteed to get all those Alfa Romeo owners rather hot under the collar.
That's because this is the company's first rear wheel drive car in 20 years and according to Alfa it is just the start of a range upgrade that will put all its models back into contention when it comes to dynamism, performance and handling capabilities.
This model, priced at £32,850 (£36,580 with options) was an elegantly-styled, well-tuned piece of Italian craftwork that is certain to turn heads wherever it passes.
It featured smooth streamlining, distinctive light clusters, a dual chrome exhaust tip, LED tail lights and dark tinted rear windows to add an air of mystery.
Move inside and the Guilia is classy and sophisticated in its layout with a two-tone dashboard and door panels along with a plethora of on-board technology to explore.
Creature comforts include the likes of electrically-adjustable seats that can be heated, an eight-speaker sound system, dual zone climate control, a heated steering wheel, a cooled glovebox and an 8.8-inch infotainment screen that allows access to the navigation system, Bluetooth and media devices.
The 2.2-litre 180bhp diesel engine was mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox with steering wheel mounted paddles and the car could reach from 0-62mph in 7.1 seconds, topped out at 143mph and according to official figures, can deliver combined fuel economy of 67.3mpg with carbon emissions of 109g/km.
When it comes to performance the Giulia also delivers on all counts.
The acceleration through the gears is as quick as you could wish for and the supply of power is constant which helps to make light work of overtaking.
In town centres, the all-round visibility was good and the rearview camera is handy for parking. Then when the open road opens up the Giulia certainly obliges and likes to show its true potential.
The road holding is ultra-grippy and there is plenty of driver feedback along the way.
The engine growls a little when pushed particularly hard but is more refined when cruising at motorway speeds.
There are also driving modes called dynamic, natural and advanced efficiency (otherwise known as DNA) that adjust the car's handling. Dynamic delivers a sharper throttle, brake and steering response for sportier driving, natural offers a comfortable ride for everyday motoring, and advanced efficiency enables the cylinder deactivation to maximise energy.
These are fun to play with as are the paddle shifts. But my only gripe was the size of the steering wheel mounted paddles. They are massive and frequently got in the way when reaching for the indicator or wipers stalks.
Elsewhere comfort levels within the car are really good and there is bags of space for back seat passengers to stretch out.
Storage limits are also generous with a boot capacity of 480 litres which is increased considerably with the 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat.