By Mike Torpey on 2018-03-25 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Alfa Romeo Giulia
2.2 Diesel Super
THE sports saloon scene hasn't exactly been awash with cool looking contenders in recent times.
It has left a big hole in the market for a manufacturer prepared to try and seduce buyers with some genuine sex appeal.
Problem is - that can lead to the heart ruling the head, and you ending up with something that hits a high note visually but falls flat when it comes to everything else.
This year's arrival of the Alfa Romeo Giulia has certainly put the cat among the pigeons and represents a real statement of intent from the Italian marque.
Their first SUV model, the Stelvio, arrived during the autumn to add even greater kudos to a brand that's brimming with confidence.
And rightly so - because the Giulia doesn't just look a million dollars, it's a hoot to drive, comes laden with feelgood factor and doesn't skimp on quality either.
Three engines are up for grabs in the form of a 2.0-litre petrol, a 2.2-litre diesel with choice of 150 or 180bhp of punch and a fiery 2.9-litre twin turbo V6.
This model featured the higher state of tune and has definite appeal for business users courtesy of its low 109g/km emissions rating.
We found the engine to be a tad noisy in urban conditions, though that's about the only criticism you can level at it.
That's because the car is not only swift and smooth - 0 to 62mph in just 7.1 seconds - but it has the most fabulous steering and and a super slick eight-speed automatic gearbox.
This version also had adaptive dampers - an optional extra - which stiffens the body control as well as giant paddle shifts.
Whether it be on an urban or rural run, or opening up on faster roads, the Giulia really delivers, and we were surprised to find the average fuel figure was only ten short of the official return of 67.3mpg.
Inside, the Alfa comes with firm, supportive leather seats with the Alfa Romeo crest embossed in the front headrests while the dash area ahead is wide and flowing.
The flat-bottomed steering wheel with its alloy inserts and small incorporated Start/Stop button is one of the best around and the auto gearshift level falls nicely to hand.
As for passenger space it's plentiful for two in the back, though a wide transmission tunnel makes things awkward and uncomfortable in the centre rear position.
Standard kit includes the likes of 17-inch alloys, an Alfa Connect 8.8-inch 3D Nav infotainment system, dual zone climate control, eight-speaker audio, Alfa's D.N.A. drive mode selector and a full suite of safety features. You also get a long, if quite shallow, boot.
Alfa Romeo Giulia 2.2 Diesel Super
Mechanical: 180bhp, 2,143cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving rear wheels via 8-speed automatic gearbox
Max Speed: 143mph
0-62mph: 7.1 seconds
Combined MPG: 67.3
Insurance Group: 26
C02 emissions: 109g/km
Bik rating: 23%
Warranty: 3yrs/unlimited miles
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