ALFA Romeo played a blinder when it launched the Giulia.
Bearing in mind that the days of Alfas being temperamental and quirky have gone for ever, the time was ripe for this Italian purveyor of sporty saloons to wade in and have a go at netting a portion of the market in one of the toughest of all sectors.
The Giulia immediately turned heads in the executive arena, long dominated by German brands, Jaguar and Lexus.
Named after a classic Alfa of the 1960s, the Giulia is a curvaceous, beautifully proportioned car that has much of the old Alfa pzazz in a very modern package.
It resurrects a legend because in the 1960s a Giulia Super 1.6-litre could reach 106mph and accelerate from 0-62mph in just 12 seconds, which was faster than some sports cars of the day, making the car a favourite with the Italian police.
The latest Giulia in 200bhp 2.0-litre turbo petrol form shows how it is done more than half a century later with a top speed of 146mph and a very quick 0-62mph sprint of 6.6 seconds.
But the real beauty of this car lies with its pure joy of handling. Its traditional rear-wheel drive configuration and agile, responsive handling lay the foundation for a truly memorable driving experience.
Throttle and steering responses are sharp and decisive while solid grip and nigh on perfect body control mean that corners can be taken with confidence.
An updated version of Alfa's familiar DNA drive-select system allows the driver to alter the car's set-up offering dynamic, natural or advanced efficiency settings.
And Giulia looks every inch the thoroughbred that it is with a traditional Alfa nose, short overhangs, haunched styling and twin tailpipes.
The four-cylinder turbo petrol engine is mated with a smooth eight-speed automatic transmission which handles this car's punchy power output very well.
If you require more power, there is a 280ps version and a 2.9-litre V6 BiTurbo which delivers 510ps and will hit 62mph in less than four seconds. But for everyday executive use, the 2.0-litre 200 cuts the mustard very well indeed.
A new design of rear suspension and a fairly long wheelbase play their part in guaranteeing ride comfort, while the interior is pleasantly designed with plenty of room for four with five seats available.