FROM the beautiful exterior to the push button ignition residing on the steering wheel the Alfa Romeo Giulia is a class act.
Head-turning design is a given where Alfa is concerned and this perfectly proportioned saloon is a sight for sore eyes with not a crease out of place.
Taking on the regiment of top quality German motors in this sector of the market is never easy, but where looks are concerned the Giulia has them beat with sleek lines, LED tail lights, a chrome exhaust, dark tinted rear windows and gorgeous alloys - revealing sporty red brake calipers - all part of a tasty recipe.
But despite the good looks it is behind the wheel on the open road where the Giulia will really score with drivers seeking a fast and fun saloon.
Alfa start by using lightweight materials ensuring an even weight distribution while rear wheel drive is incorporated into the mix for the first time in 20 years. This leaves the front wheels free to concentrate on simply steering.
Combined with the reasonably stiff suspension set up it all has a dramatic effect on the handling as the Giulia is easily the most well balanced Alfa I've taken into and out of a corner.
The 2.2-litre 178bhp turbodiesel engine under the bonnet of the Â£33,000 JTDM-2 Super model I drove earns similar plaudits as it is punchy - reaching 62mph from a standing start in a shade over seven seconds - as well as being reasonably refined.
A 148bhp version of the oil burner is also offered as is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol model.
The flagship Quadrifoglio model gets the benefit of a fire breathing twin-turbo 503bhp 2.9-litre V6.
They are all linked to an eight-speed automatic transmission which is a slick operator providing barely noticeable changes of gear. There are large paddles behind the wheel giving the option of manual changes.
You get to choose between three driving modes through Alfa's DNA selector with Advanced Efficiency, Natural and Dynamic altering the steering weight and throttle response.
Despite the economy benefits of the first setting the car feels most at home in either of the latter two options as they make the most of the Giulia's sporty nature.
Running costs are kept on a tight rein for a sports saloon with a claimed fuel economy figure of more than 70mpg. In the real world I found this equated to around the 50mpg mark, but it is still likely to attract the attention of company executives travelling up and down the country - as is the low tax-reducing carbon dioxide emissions figure of 109g/km.
The Giulia name started life with the 1962 Type 105 original, but there is nothing old fashioned about the interior of the latest incarnation.
Top quality materials are used while the fit and finish are good. The cabin's design mirrors the exterior for snazzy style with delightful dials and neat touches.
The infotainment system in the Super model includes sat nav, a DAB radio, Bluetooth and USB connectivity and a rotary controller for the seven-inch colour screen on the centre console.
There is plenty of space up front with a decent driving position easily attained. Space is okay in the back but legroom is a bit tight.
The 480-litre boot is fairly spacious although I couldn't get my golf bag into it without taking the longer clubs out. The opening is also on the narrow side and there is a high lip.
There are cubby holes for your bits and bobs with a covered storage bin and glovebox handling the majority of your needs.