Steering, suspension and ride comfort

Here’s what surprised us most about the Alfa Romeo Giulia: it’s a sensational car dynamically – and if you’d spent any time around Alfa Romeos during the past decade, you simply wouldn’t have seen this coming.

For a start it rides well. Not in a lolloping, loping way, nor in a keyed-down, brittle way, but with a blend of impeccable body control and a deft ride that is the equal of anything in the class.

Optional carbon-ceramic brakes resist fade admirably, even after a solid five or more dry laps

There’s multi-state control for the adaptive dampers, so as you put the engine into angry mode you can still pop the suspension back to a softer setting – and you’d probably want to on most British roads.

On a good smooth surface the Giulia is fine in its firmest mode, while on broken surfaces it’s ideally planted in its softer mode.

If anything, its ride and handling blend feels most like that of a sporting Jaguar (which we mean entirely as a compliment), so it is set up beautifully for British roads.

The steering suits our roads too. It’s quick to steer, at 2.25 turns between locks, but there’s no hint of nervousness, and although there are more feelsome racks in the sports car world, the Alfa’s thin, firm rim means that its messages filter through to the driver better than they do in almost any of the competition.

The Giulia is pleasingly balanced, too. Thanks to a very even weight distribution it resists overloading its front tyres, while the rears can be exploited by the car’s ample power.

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In good conditions there’s a lot of traction; in poor conditions very obviously less so. But all the time the Giulia Quadrifoglio is a car of rare poise and ability.

A Mercedes-AMG is harder, a BMW less composed overall – and you can forget everything else in the class when it comes to running the Alfa close.

The Giulia is a peachy car to drive in the dry. You can trail the brakes to keep the nose planted on the way in to a corner if you like, but it’s agile enough to resist understeer unless you turn in wildly too fast. Once turned its always pleasingly balanced.

Eventually it’ll hook up the clutches by the rear differential and fall into a massively adjustable slide, but how much it slides is really up to you.

It doesn’t hook up as cleanly as it would with a conventional limited-slip differential, but it’s more refined than one, more of the time. And it’s precise with it — not a hoon-machine like a Mercedes-Benz C63.

In the wet it’s a rather different matter. The Alfa, thanks in large part to its tyres, tramlines and aquaplanes rather a lot under acceleration.

It still generates decent grip, but it lets go very easily, if nowhere near as progressively as it does in the dry.

The Alfa’s wet time was achieved on a resurfaced, grippier track, the Merc’s on an older surface.