Are cars simply inanimate collections of metal, glass and rubber? Not when they have an Alfa Romeo badge on the bonnet.

And when that same car carries the name Giulia on the rear, suddenly you are at the wheel of one of the most truly remarkable, distinctive and mesmeric motors on the road.

The instant spell-binding appeal of this sports saloon has been cast by the high performance aura of the 190mph Quadrifoglio version, with its Ferrari-inspired, V6 BiTurbo petrol engine, but the Italian car maker has its hopes pinned on the likes of the Super specification car to really make its mark.

Because to succeed, this striking saloon must lure buyers away from the time-honoured German marques. Sleek, arresting looks and sharp Italian styling alone will not cut it in this hard-fought market where engineering excellence and build quality are second to none.

The ace up the Giulia’s sleeve is its unashamed focus on delivering sheer driving pleasure.

Sitting unseen under its short overhangs, long bonnet and muscular haunches is a rear-wheel drive car where weights and materials, including carbon-fibre and aluminium composite, have been managed to obtain 50:50 weight distribution across the axles.

On the road this beautiful balance gives the Giulia a living, breathing feel that connects directly back to the driver, while remaining thoroughly likeable, quiet and comfortable.

Passengers do not go unrewarded either, as the Giulia has the longest wheelbase in its segment, which means loads of legroom for those in the back.

The cabin design is every bit as crisp and clean as the exterior, with the main controls grouped together on the small steering wheel and an 8.8-inch display for the satellite navigation, Bluetooth telephone link and hi-fi, all operated by voice.

Sitting between the front seats is a dial selector that changes the car's dynamic behaviour according to your mood, from dynamic to natural or advanced efficiency. A flick of the wrist adjusts a multitude of settings, including those of the engine, suspension, steering, transmission, rear differential, instrument display, brakes, safety and driver aids.

Safety is up there with the best, offering systems including forward collision warning, autonomous emergency brake with pedestrian protection, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitoring.

Alfa Romeo says the braking system fitted to the car significantly reduces braking distance, bringing the car from 62mph to a standstill in 38 metres.

There are also those little electronic helping hands such as parking sensors and a rear camera that help to make life that little less stressful in tight parking spots.

Under the bonnet, the range has a choice of all-aluminium engines and all UK models are fitted as standard with a new eight-speed automatic transmission, with a pair of steering column-mounted paddle shifters on all models from the Super upwards.

Power on the test car came from a four-cylinder, 2.0-litre petrol engine that combines 200 horsepower with the possibility of returning more than 45mpg in day-to-day use.

More than half a century after the launch of the first Giulia, a car that became the backbone of Alfa Romeo's line-up, the new car is set to prove just as significant in lifting the company’s fortunes.

And if you think this is all a bit too congratulatory then get yourself down to a dealer today and try one for yourself.

Auto facts

Model: Alfa Romeo Giulia 2.0 Turbo Super

Price: £31,180

Insurance group: 24 (1-50)

Fuel consumption (combined): 47.9mpg

Top speed: 146mph

Length: 464.3cm/182.8in

Width: 186cm/73.2in

Luggage capacity: 16.9 cu ft

Fuel tank capacity: 12.7 gallons/58 litres

CO2 emissions: 138g/km

Warranty: Three years/ 100,000 miles