Alfa Romeo Giulia

2.0 Turbo

Alfa Romeo Giulia, front action
Alfa Romeo Giulia, front static
Alfa Romeo Giulia, side action
Alfa Romeo Giulia, rear action
Alfa Romeo Giulia, dash detail
Alfa Romeo Giulia, dashboard
Alfa Romeo Giulia, rear seats
Alfa Romeo Giulia, front seats
Alfa Romeo Giulia, door detail

FIRST thing you notice on slipping inside the very Italian Alfa Romeo Giulia is how very British it looks - at least if you splashed out an extra £2,750 for cream coloured leather and splashes of wood on dash and doors.

Quite takes you back to the days when dad might buy a Rover and be happily surrounded with product of farm (cow, leather) and forest (tree, walnut) and feel rather dashingly modern.

Well, it was stylish then and it's stylish now, especially when nicely applied to the interior of a car that - at last - lives up to the hopes of a world of car lovers begging Alfa Romeo to 'get this one right'.

The rightness starts from fifty paces, where the Giulia looks simply stunning, all taut curves and a delicate hint of menace.

It's the sort of shape to make a BMW 3 Series blanche and perhaps persuade an Audi A4 not to pull out in front of you at the junction, thank you very much. It's been a long time since an Alfa saloon did that.

Inside, the visual treat continues with a dashboard that's stylish yet logical (two words that don't always go together in the Alfa lexicon) and a general feel that here is a car very much worth its price - which begins from a reasonable £29,880.

Then you start the engine. Or at least you do after finding the go button hanging from a steering wheel spoke. Very Ferrari, even if the sound of a cold petrol engine is more diesel drone than Monza magic.

Warmed up a little, things get better. Better still if you prod the lovely eight-speed automatic gearbox into sporty action, when this Alfa's 200 horses produce an enthusiastically lively response.

Heading for your first corner at a sporty speed you'll notice the ride can turn firm on surfaces far removed from billiard table smoothness (so, lots of them in this country) and you'd better be prepared for the ultra sharp feel of the steering when you turn the wheel.

It took a couple of days before this very immediate response seemed natural, then it was quickly forgotten as miles mounted and the fuel consumption steadied at a decent 36mpg.

Although almost entry level Giulia in its pricing the car you see here is not lacking in standard kit, from 17in alloys, eight speaker sound system and sat nav to cruise control, dual zone climate control and rear parking sensors. Not to mention that auto gearbox.

Alfa has learned the German trick of a tempting options' list and the car came with posher 18-inch alloys (£795), alloy shift paddles for the gearbox (£275) and the already mentioned Lusso interior pack at £2,750.

It also had an alarm that twice panicked for no reason when parked and a split folding rear seat (£275) that had only one side that would fold, the other bit staying resolutely upright.

FAST FACTS

Alfa Romeo Giulia 2.0 Turbo

Price: £31,580

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: 47.1

Insurance Group: 24

C02 emissions: 138g/km

Bik rating: 28%

Warranty: 3yrs/unlimited miles

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