Giulia a gem

Alfa Romeo Giulia, dynamic
Alfa Romeo Giulia, front quarter
Alfa Romeo Giulia, dynamic front
Alfa Romeo Giulia, rear quarter
Alfa Romeo Giulia, interior
Alfa Romeo Giulia, controls
Alfa Romeo Giulia, interior rear

ALFA Romeo is on a mission and aiming to put every one of its cars at the forefront of performance and handling in their class.

The first two of these are the marvellous Stelvio SUV I wrote about a few months ago and the brilliant Giulia saloon.

Both are only available with an eight speed automatic gearbox,but it has superb fixed paddles to make the changes and they're absolutely perfect.

I drove the Super, powered by a deliciously tuneful 2.0-litre turbo engine with 197bhp and smooth performance enough for just about anyone.

It reaches 60 from rest in just 6.4 seconds and will go on to top 140 miles an hour given the right circuit.

There is also a 2.9 V6 version of the car called the Quadrifoglio (four leaf clover) and this holds the saloon lap record for the infamous 14 mile Nurburgring circuit in Germany.

But the 2.0-litre is also a gem. In full automatic, the gearbox handles everything superbly and I only needed the paddles when I was really pressing on.

Overtaking is simply a matter of thought and it's done whenever a straight piece of road appears, one tailgating woman in a Land Rover Discovery must have wondered where I'd gone as I accelerated away from her into the wild blue yonder.

Add that stonking performance to the most fluid and agile handling and grippy road-holding, all helped by the Alfa's brilliant 50/50 weight distribution front and rear, and you have a car to be reckoned with.

The very direct and positive power steering is a joy to use most of the time, although that very directness can be disconcerting at high speed on rougher surfaces, as the wheel turns into a live thing in your hands.

Most of the time however it's absolutely perfect and fits beautifully into the sports saloon's wide range of positives.

All Giulias are fitted with Alfa's DNA system, which uses electronics to changes the driving character of the car.

Most of the time the Normal setting is perfect but Dynamic sharpens accelerator response and ushers in a louder exhaust note, while Advanced Efficiency is aimed at improving economy.

All this is marvellous and many enthusiasts like me would be prepared to accept a compromise on comfort.

But, with the Alfa, you don't have to. It rides well over almost all surfaces above 40 miles an hour and only gets a little more unsettled in town.

The stylish interior of the Super comes with electric, part leather sports seats, an excellent dashboard and an eight inch screen for most functions.

But with the paddles and a stalk each side, it is a little cluttered behind the wheel.

Rear legroom is excellent, the boot is a very good size and the driving position is perfect for all sizes.

Other equipment includes the DNA system, DAB stereo with an eight speaker system, automatic headlights and wipers, cruise, climate, electric parking brake, keyless entry and starting, rearparking sensors, sat nav and stability control.

FAST FACTS

Price: £31,550

Mechanical: 197bhp, 1,995cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving rear wheels via 8-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 146mph

0-62mph: 6.6 seconds

Combined MPG:47

Insurance Group: 24

C02 emissions: 138g/km

Bik rating: 26%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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