STYLE has always been a key ingredient of Alfa Romeos and there was no shortage of admirers during my time behind the wheel of the Giulia.
One cheeky chap even suggested I might want to do a swap when I'd parked next to him just as he returned to the car park after a shopping trip, remarking with a smile: "I've always fancied an Alfa."
I declined politely, of course. I doubt Afla would've been impressed had I tried to hand back this bloke's somewhat drab and much cheaper city car rather than the Italian thoroughbred that had been delivered to me days earlier.
The guy's enthusiasm was understandable, though. The Giulia is very easy on the eye indeed with it's low-slung stance, taut and compact proportions, long bonnet and muscular haunches.
The dynamic design is finished off with twin tailpipes and imposing front air intakes either side of the marque's trademark trefoil grille.
But there's more than just good looks to this sleek saloon. Slip behind the wheel and fire it up and the Giulia delivers an engaging and rewarding drive that fully lives up to its eye-catching appearance.
Being rear-wheel drive obviously plays a part here, but the fact that the Giulia has a perfect 50:50 weight distribution between front and rear axles also gives it great balance while a long wheelbase helps with stability.
Aluminium and carbon-fibre components, including an aluminium engine block, help to keep weight down and, along with sophisticated state-of-the-art front and rear suspension systems and fast, responsive steering, contribute to an excellent ride and some very nimble handling.
Speciale trim sits in the middle of the Giulia range between Super and Veloce models and, with its efficient 180ps, 2.2-litre diesel engine (2019 models will get 190ps) paired with a smooth eight-speed automatic transmission, is aimed at the business buyers who dominate this class.
With low carbon emissions and offering a claimed 67.3mpg on average it'll keep fleet managers happy while a 0-62mph sprint time of 7.1 seconds and top speed of 143mph means the driver will also be smiling.
There's a business-class feel to the interior too with the driver-focused cockpit complementing the sporty character of the Giulia, with the push-button ignition switch mounted on the flat-bottomed, racing-style steering wheel as well as aluminium sports pedals, power-adjustable heated front sports seats and leather upholstery.
An 8.8-inch infotainment display dominates the dashboard with menus and functions accessed via a BMW-style rotary controller on the centre console, where you also find Alfa's DNA drive mode selector, offering dynamic, natural and advanced efficiency settings.
Other kit includes dual-zone climate control, sat nav, digital radio, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, cruise control, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking and lane departure warning.
There are three seatbelts in the back but a sizeable transmission tunnel means that it would be almost impossible for anyone, even a child, sitting in the middle to get comfortable.
It is much more sensible to regard this as a four-seater - allowing two rear passengers to benefit from the drop down armrest with cupholders, dual aircon fans and USB charging port in relative comfort despite the slightly compromised head and legroom that is an inevitable result of that slippery design.