Alfa Romeo’s recent dazzling run of form shows no sign of slowing down as the new Giulia got more than a warm welcome when it was launched this week.

The Italian marque’s renaissance began with the 4C, a flawed gem of a sportscar that has won praise for bringing a raw and ragged edge back to the world of fast driving, and the plucky Mito. The Giulia is a far more important model, financially speaking, as it goes head-to-head with the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, Mercedes C Class and Jaguar XE. So can it cut the mustard? Well the early signs are encouraging.

The Giulia replaces the lacklustre 159 that is one of the last remnants of a fallow period for the charismatic Italian manufacturer. Even former Top Gear legend Jeremy Clarkson says you can’t be a car lover if you have never owned an Alfa Romeo, and now the Giulia could bring some much-needed drama back to the marque’s saloon car line-up.

Alfa Romeo has set its sights on breathing life back into the premium sector and offering a real alternative to the increasingly homogenised alternatives. The Italian marque is determined to bring its distinctive brand of Italian flair, as well as a sporting feel, to the junior executive sector.

Of course the 503bhp Quadrifoglio Verde, yes that really is four leaf clover in Italian, took the majority of the headlines at the launch. Performance figures have not yet been released, but it will be powered by a 3-litre twin turbo engine mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox with paddle shifts for when you’re feeling frisky.

Alfa Romeo has also introduced new technology, including Torque Vectoring, an electromechanical Integrated Brake System and an Active Aero splitter that manages downforce at high speed. Other manufacturers have their own variants and Alfa Romeo is late to the party, but it marks a significant step forward for the Italian marque and when the new car launches next year it will give Alfa a fighting chance against the leading manufacturers.

Styling wise the Giulia offers a fresh and distinctly Italian alternative to the monochrome offerings from BMW and Audi. The legendary front grille remains, flanked by LED headlamps and a prominent lip spoiler for the top end QV. The side profile of the Giulia looks like a BMW that has been imbued with the charisma and beauty of a Maserati, thanks to its curvaceous, flowing sides that give the saloon car a coupe look, and the back end has a sporting tilt thanks the exaggerated diffuser.

Italian cars of years gone by have taken criticism for poor interior detailing, but the new Giulia looks set to buck the trend with a stylish interior. Carbon-fibre trim surrounds cowled instruments and chrome-ringed ventilation controls. A push button starter is another sporting touch that hints at Alfa Romeo’s sporting pedigree.

The Giulia carries on Alfa Romeo’s return to form and looks set to fly the flag for the Italian marque for years to come. It looks like a real alternative to the German competition and a car that the marque can be truly proud of.