SUAVE styling and potent performance give the Alfa Romeo Giulia Competizione plenty of charm and appeal.

The characterful Giulia is ageing beautifully - and was recently updated with what could best be described as a mild refresh.

The most significant tweak comes in the form of the triple-light signatures at the front, which look superb and were previously seen on the Tonale.

My test car was powered by a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine, offering 280hp, 400Nm of peak torque and a 0-62mph time of 5.7 seconds.

Denbighshire Free Press: Alfa Romeo Giulia Competizione

With the help of the excellent 8-speed auto box, it picks up speed effortlessly and is especially punchy in the higher rev range, with the driver also having the option to take control of the revs through the paddles mounted behind the steering wheel.

What impresses most is the handling, with the Giulia feeling tremendously composed and stable when cornering on uneven surfaces.

The sharpness of the steering combined with the balance of the rear-wheel drive set-up create a great sense of driver engagement.

Denbighshire Free Press: Alfa Romeo

The expertly tuned chassis is further enhanced by the Q2 limited-slip differential, which is a torque sensing differential that constantly adjusts the torque split between the wheels.

The brakes are quite superb and well-judged, giving the driver extra confidence. The red brake callipers also look the part.

Meanwhile, the seats are really supportive, hugging the front seat occupants to keep them in place when cornering.

If there was one slight disappointment, it’d be the lack of a throaty growl from the four-cylinder engine. The underwhelming noise doesn’t detract from the engine’s sporty performance, but it does reduce the emotional appeal of this saloon.

Denbighshire Free Press: Alfa Romeo Giulia Competizione

Space-wise, there’s plenty of room up front, with acceptable space in the rear seats and a 480-litre boot that’s on a par with key rivals.

The cabin is nicely laid-out, with premium materials used extensively to bring the interior’s quality closer to the German rivals.

Highlights include the leather sports steering wheel, the stylish ambient lighting and other subtle touches, such as a small Italian flag near the gear knob.

There’s plenty of leather dotted around the cabin, including the handsome-looking dashboard. A further touch of class is provided by the red stitching, which can be found in various places throughout the cabin, thereby giving it a further sense of uniformity.

Denbighshire Free Press: Alfa Romeo Giulia Competizione

The 8.8-inch multitouch infotainment system with nav is clear and easy to use.

The Alfa DNA system gives the driver the option of selecting between Dynamic, Natural or Advanced Efficiency modes.

In natural mode, the car is more relaxed and minimizes fuel consumption. You might not quite reach the official stated average of 38.2mpg, but an economy figures well into the 30s is possible.

When Dynamic mode is selected, you’ll have more responsive and direct control behind the wheel. The engine and brakes operate in a more reactive manner.

Advanced Efficiency mode is to be used in potentially dangerous weather conditions.

All in all, the Giulia could work well for a driver who needs to travel significant distances in a well-mannered premium saloon - but also craves some extra enjoyment behind the wheel when the circumstances allow.

The Lowdown

Alfa Romeo Giulia Competizione 

ENGINE: 2.0 turbo petrol 280hp
POWER: 280hp and torque of 400Nm
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed auto, rear wheel drive
PERFORMANCE: 0-62mph in 5.7 seconds and 149mph 
ECONOMY: 38.2mpg and 168g/km
PRICE: £ 52,259