GONE are the days when buying an executive saloon meant perming any one from three German options.
Jaguar, Volvo and Lexus all currently have very credible alternatives in showrooms - and now we can add Alfa Romeo to the list.
Resurrecting an historical model name first used in the sixties, also for a sporty compact four-door saloon, the Giulia is a stylish and engaging package that will appeal to Alfa fans and driving enthusiasts alike.
All the traditional design cues of the marque are present, not least the instantly-recognisable trefoil nose, and the look is one of sleek athleticism - with very short overhangs, a long bonnet, muscular haunches, twin tailpipes and some sculpted character lines.
Power comes from a range of all-new turbocharged aluminium engines, all of which deliver competitive performance and fuel economy and are mated to a smooth and unintrusive eight-speed automatic transmission.
The 200ps 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol unit featured here is the entry level unit but nevertheless offers some impressive performance figures, firing the Giulia from 0-62mph in a very brisk 6.6 seconds and on to a top speed of 146mph.
A 280ps version improves on those figures and for real adrenaline junkies the fiery flagship Quadrifoglio version gets a Ferrari-inspired 2.9-litre V6 BiTurbo which kicks out a huge 510ps and will hit 62mph in less than four seconds.
A punchy 2.2-litre diesel tuned to deliver 150 or 180ps seems pedestrian by comparison but will undoubtedly appeal to business buyers thanks to its superior fuel economy.
Whichever engine is under the bonnet, though, the real joy of the Giulia is it's sporty rear-wheel drive configuration and agile, responsive handling - it's what driving an Alfa Romeo should be like.
Throttle and steering responses are quick and decisive while solid grip and great body control mean that corners can be taken enthusiastically and with confidence.
An updated version of Alfa's familiar DNA drive-select system allows the driver to alter the car's set-up depending on driving conditions and mood - offering dynamic, natural or advanced efficiency (a new energy saving mode) settings.
In truth I found the difference between natural and dynamic less pronounced than in other Alfas, but that's probably because the Giulia's default mode is just so good. Most enthusiastic drivers will probably avoid the efficiency mode.
While the driver is enjoying himself passengers are wafted along in comfort thanks in part to a specially-developed sophisticated rear suspension which is debuted in the Giulia.
The long wheelbase also enables Alfa to maximise internal space and there is plenty of room for four adults to get comfortable. Fitting in a fifth is probably not something you'd want to do often though, because of the bulky transmission tunnel in the centre of the rear footwell.
That aside, the Giulia's interior is stylish and well-appointed, with good-quality soft-touch finishes to all the surfaces that you regularly come into contact with. Super models also getting part-leather upholstery in a choice of three colour combinations.
All the major controls are wrapped around the driver and within easy reach on the centre console with the main feature being the Giulia's all-new infotainment system, which is controlled via steering wheel commands or an intuitive Rotary Pad and from Super versions upwards has a larger 8.8-inch display and integrated navigation.
A compact, flat-bottomed steering wheel, which also houses the push-button ignition, continues the sporty theme of the exterior design.
Standard equipment is generous across the range and other kit on Super versions includes dual-zone climate control, cruise control with speed limiter, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning and rear parking sensors, with a wealth of optional add-ons also available.