THE arrival of a new car from the Alfa Romeo stable always causes my heart to miss a beat.

One of the best-loved of automotive brands, it has in turn both thrilled and niggled through a history of producing cars for the red-blooded.

The emergence of the new Giulia on my driveway in the most delicious bodywork stirred the emotons. I just hoped it would live up to expectations.

Embodying the core elements that have carved the firm’s reputation, it is distinctly Italian in design, utilising innovative powertrains, perfect 50/50 weight distribution and an excellent weight-to-power ratio.

There’s a new rear-wheel drive system to add to the driving enjoyment, and plenty of eye candy in the form of short overhangs, a long bonnet and muscular haunches. A sophisticated rear suspension set-up and tweaking of the steering bring another smile as you press on through B-road bends.

Choice of materials is also key to the car’s handling. To obtain the weight-to-power ratio and outstanding torsional rigidity, this Giulia employs an array of high-strength and ultra-lightweight materials including, for example, carbon fibre for the driveshaft and aluminium for the doors, wings, engines, brakes and suspensions.

Opt for the outrageous Quadrifoglio version and the use of ultra-lightweight materials extends to other components including carbon fibre for the bonnet, roof, front splitter, rear spoiler and body inserts.

Al range of all-aluminium engines power the saloon, but I suspect the best all-rounder might be the 2.2-litre 180bhp turbo diesel version tested here.

This engine is the first all-aluminium diesel unit in Alfa Romeo's history. The four-cylinder engine uses latest-generation MultiJet II injection system and is also available in 150bhp form. Both are combined with excellent eight-speed automatic transmission.

There’s also a couple of 2.0-litre petrol engines and a 2.9 bi-turbo V6 petrol in the Ferrari-inspired Quadrifoglio version registering 510bhp for those seeking outrageous performance.

The Giulia comes equipped with a new Alfa DNA selector, which modifies the car's dynamic behaviour according to the driver's selection: Dynamic, Natural, and Advanced Efficiency. It adjusts a multitude of settings, including those of the engine, suspension, steering, transmission, rear differential, instrument display, brakes and safety and driver aids, according to the mode selected by the driver.

This is a car that cries out to be enjoyed, to be driven with enthusiasm. The more you ask of it, the better it gets.

In keeping with Alfa Romeo tradition, the Giulia features a host of technical innovations which benefit both the driving experience and vehicle safety.

Inside, the design is centred around the driver, with the main controls grouped together on the small steering wheel in a similar fashion to a Formula 1 car.

Premium materials include carbon fibre and real wood, while - depending on trim level - a 3.5- or seven-inch colour instrument display offers the driver all the essential information about the car at-a-glance.

Standard equipment includes the eight-speed automatic transmission, 16-inch alloy wheels, daytime running lights, LED rear lamp clusters, dual-zone climate control, cruise control with speed limiter, Connect infotainment system, forward collision warning and autonomous emergency brake with pedestrian detection.

The Super trim level adds 17-inch alloy wheels, leather and fabric seats, steering wheel paddle shifters and special interior trim. In Speciale, there’s the addition of 18-inch dark alloy wheels, red painted brake callipers, bi-xenon headlights, powered and heated sports seats, sports bumpers, black gloss window surround and rear sports diffuser with dual exhausts.

The Veloce shares the enhanced sports exterior styling of the Speciale, but adds 18-inch 10-spoke Turbine alloy wheels and black brake calipers. The Quadrifoglio gets aerodynamic enhancements and 19-inch alloy wheels. Inside it is equipped with sports seats trimmed in leather and Alcantara, a sports steering wheel with red power button and DNA Pro selector with race mode, plus performance enhancements.

Does the new Giulia live up to expectations? You bet.