Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce is very germane to the executive-car discussion
It's very difficult to get through an Alfa Romeo Giulia discussion without saying "Quadrifoglio".
The flagship bi-turbo-V6 track-attack machine is certainly the car responsible for the Giulia's hero-glow. It's also the model Alfa's boffins focused on when developing the new sedan.
But that doesn't mean the Giulia Veloce is the poor cousin. Indeed, it means you're getting some specialised genes while saving a handy $55,000.
The Veloce has a much softer, more linear character than its leery sibling. But it's still very much an enthusiast machine.
It's powered by the more grunty of two 2-litre turbo engines available for Giulia in Europe, it has an eight-speed gearbox with enormous column (not wheel) mounted shift paddles, drive-mode selector (sans the Race mode of the you-know-what), active suspension (which can be adjusted independently of the drive-mode) and the "Q2" limited-slip differential.
It says something about this car that a Q2-badge is plastered on the bootlid. An active-differential as a model-name? Translation: this car can go fast and do big skids.
But Veloce can also be a very pleasant day-to-day executive sedan. It has a decent ride, sumptuous leather seats with heating, an excellent 10-speaker sound system and stuff that makes commuting painless, like adaptive cruise control that works right down to standstill and back up again.
Giulia is much-hyped by Alfa as the marque's entry into proper premium motoring - a genuine rival for the likes of the BMW 3-series and Mercedes-Benz C-class. Quality-wise it's certainly getting there.
There's an elegant simplicity about the cabin and most of the stuff you touch is pleasingly tactile, save some minor issues. One's the gearlever, which has some suspiciously rough edges - weird when that's virtually the first thing you touch in a car.
There was also a slightly (and I do mean very slightly) ill-fitting piece of trim on the centre-console of our test car, not to mention some pretty hard plastic in hidden areas. Would you find the same in a German car? Probably. But given Alfa's patchy history, people will tend to look a little harder in the Giulia. Unfair but true.
Performance-wise, the Veloce is understated but immensely satisfying. It's very quick (0-100kmh 5.7 seconds) but also impressively fluid over a winding road: eight cogs keeping the already linear powerplant spinning just-so and a rear-drive chassis that really feels like a rear-drive chassis. Thank you, Q2.
To best get a sense of the Veloce's appeal, best look at the four-cylinder competition.
There's almost a match for its performance and handling capability in the lighter and very lovely BMW 330i (185kW, 0-100kmh 5.8 seconds), but that costs $89,650. The high-quality Mercedes-Benz C 250 is $86,900, but only delivers 155kW and 0-100kmh in 6.6 seconds.
Of course an Alfa is not for everybody. Totally get that.
But as an enthusiast-focused sedan against highly regarded German competition, the Veloce might even have bragging rights over the high-performance Quadrifoglio.
We could argue all day about the relative merits of the Q-car against the BMW M3 or Mercedes-AMG C 63 S. They're rivals but very different machines in terms of the way they deliver their crazy performance and handling capabilities.
At Veloce level, the Giulia, 3-series and C-class are all quite close in terms of concept and execution. And the Giulia Veloce presents an incredibly compelling case.