In the mean time the landscape has changed somewhat since the 159 and 166 last graced the roads, with BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz all reaffirming their position at the head of the premium table with new iterations of the 3 Series, A4 and C-Class. This period of absence also saw Jaguar dip its toe in the market and shake up the top order with the dynamic XE, while other manufacturers have pushed to join this table chiefly in the shape of Volkswagen and Ford, but the lack of Italian flair was becoming ever more noticeable.
Understanding what makes Giulia
The Giulia comes in two flavours, the sensible standard compact exec and the febrile 503bhp Quadrifoglio, or Cloverleaf. For some bizarre reason the UK will only get these Alfa Romeos paired with an eight-speed automatic gearbox, while Europe gets a smooth and rather deliciously slick six-speed manual 'box.
As for the engine range there are two diesels and three petrols to choose from, with the diesel range consisting on one 2.2-litre all-aluminium engine in two outputs - 148bhp and 178bhp - both of which produce a fleet-friendly 109g/km and claim to do 63.8mpg. As for petrol engines the Giulia can be had with a 2.0-litre engine in 197bhp or 277bhp forms with the latter only available in Veloce trim, while topping the range is the Quadrifoglio with its Ferrari-derived 2.9-litre Biturbo V6.
The Alfa Romeo saloon is available in four trim levels – Giulia, Super, Speciale and Veloce, while those after the Cloverleaf get a few more worthwhile features. The entry level Giulia trim equips the Alfa with 16in alloy wheels, cruise control, rear parking sensors, a chrome exhaust pipe, LED rear lights and a wealth of safety technology - including autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning and forward collision warning - as standard. Inside there is manually adjustable front seats, a leather clad steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, automatic wipers and lights, and Alfa's infotainment system complete with a 6.5in display, DAB radio, and USB and Bluetooth connectivity.
Upgrade to Super and 17in alloys, aluminium door sills and part leather seats are included alongside an uprated infotainment system with a larger 8.8in display and sat nav, while opting for the Speciale adds numerous luxuries to the package. These include 18in alloy wheels shod in run flat tyres, bi-xenon headlights, electrically adjustable and heated front sports seats, a heated steering wheel, electrically folding door mirrors and a sporty bodykit.