Alfa Romeo Giulia

The Giulia comes in three basic flavors: the base Giulia, the upscale Giulia Ti and the high-performance Giulia Quadrifoglio. At the heart of the Giulia and Giulia Ti is a high-pressure 2.0L 4-cylinder turbocharged engine making 280 horsepower and 306 lb-feet of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission. Should buyers specify, the Giulia and the Giulia Ti can be equipped with all-wheel drive, a $2,000 option. Either way, the Giulia can hit 60 mph in comfortably under six seconds.

The Quadrifoglio variant of course, is on another level. Alfa Romeo claims that the Giulia Quadrifoglio is the most powerful production car they've ever built offering a staggering 505 horsepower from a 2.9L V6 thanks to twin turbochargers. All that power is sent to the rear wheels to make 60 mph come in only 3.9 seconds.

Regardless of which Giulia buyers choose, equipment and options are similar to competitors in this price range, which is to say very nice, with plenty of available options to make the cars even nicer. Base Giulia models come with 17-inch wheels, bi-xenon headlamps, LED daytime running lamps, a 6.5-inch screen for in in car entertainment and the backup camera, rear parking sensors, keyless entry and keyless go, leather seating, dual-zone climate control, USB and Bluetooth integration, steering wheel mounted audio controls, rear seat ventilation and an integrated garage door opener.

The Giulia Ti isn't much more expensive than the base Giulia, but it gets bigger 18-inch wheels, a bigger 8.8-inch color screen, heated front seats and a heated steering wheel, along with a nicer interior featuring dark grey oak interior accents.

The Quadrifoglio has 19-inch aluminum wheels and unique exterior aero bits along with lots of tricks to make go faster and handle better. Among these tricks are an active torque vectoring rear differential, and active suspension which lets drivers determine the driving mode with the touch of a button. Combined, these two features give the Giulia truly sports car like handling, making it the kind of no compromise vehicle that people could've only dreamed of a few years ago.

Option packages on the Giulia include a driver assistance package, a sport appearance package and a navigation package which also adds SiriusXM satellite radio. Standalone options include a wide variety of wheels and a big dual-pane sunroof.

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Editors' First Take

There are many beautiful places on this planet, but few have the combination of history, scenery and outrageous gastronomy offered by the Tuscan hills of Italy. Similarly, there are many beautiful cars on the planet, but few mix in the tantalizing charm of practicality like an Alfa Romeo.

It's for the first set of reasons that, when it came time to choose a summer vacation destination, my wife and I couldn't resist the temptation to book a week in Italy. And, it's for the second set of reasons that, when Alfa Romeo kindly offered to let me borrow a Giulia while I was out there, I jumped at the chance.

This, then, is the tale of my week.

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