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It’s been a long, long, long time coming, but the moment every Alfisti has been waiting for is finally upon us – the new Alfa Romeo Giulia has been officially unveiled. The latest Italian challenger in the compact exec stakes is the first new mainstream offering from Milan since the Giulietta was launched five years ago.

What’s more, the Giulia marks Alfa’s return to the rear-wheel drive layout, last seen when the 75 was discontinued in 1992; it’s said to harken back to the most authentic roots of the company’s history and offer “high performance and astounding enjoyment”. Fitting, then, that the car was revealed to the world on Alfa’s 105th anniversary yesterday at its rejuvenated museum, located in its spiritual home of Arese.

The striking looks are bound to polarise – particularly at the front, where broad, thrusting headlights and shield grille dominate proceedings. The proportions, teardrop-shaped side windows and some of the detailing (particularly the deep strakes along the flanks) also bring to mind the F30 BMW 3 Series, but it’s none the worse for it; and hey, at least it gives the sort of sporty look past front-drive Alfas could only dream about.

Alfa has yet to show the interior of the car – said to convey “the impression of a tailor-made suit” – but an earlier leaked rendering showed a horizontally-aligned dashboard with a curved upper layer, a large central display and classic deep-set instrument gauges.

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The DNA drive mode selector returns, but now as a knob rather than the previous toggle switch; it also adds new fuel-sipping Advanced Efficient and sportier Racing (on high-performance models) modes to complement the existing Dynamic and Natural settings.

To showcase the Giulia’s sporting side at its most extreme, Alfa chose to reveal the car solely in M3-baiting Quadrifoglio trim, marked out by an extendable front Active Aero Splitter, the iconic triangular four-leaf clover emblem on the wings, vents aft of the front wheels, large black telephone-dial wheels and an enormous rear diffuser replete with quad tailpipes.

Under the bonnet, there’s an aluminium six-cylinder turbo engine (possibly Maserati’s 3.0 litre biturbo V6 as seen in the Ghibli) developed by ex-Ferrari engineers. The mill – reportedly based on the unit destined for the rumoured Ferrari Dino – sends a massive 510 hp through the (hurrah!) good ol’ six-speed manual, enough to propel the Quadrifoglio from 0-100 km/h in just 3.9 seconds.

Other engines – including diesels and, reportedly, a 2.0 litre turbo four-pot petrol generating up to 298 hp in its highest production tune – are set to follow. Elsewhere, there’s dual-clutch torque vectoring, optional four-wheel drive, Chassis Domain Control and an Integrated Brake System that ropes in stability control to improve response and shorten braking distances.

Under the skin, the Giulia utilises a significant amount of lightweight components, including a carbon fibre propeller shaft, bonnet, roof and seat structure, aluminium suspension, doors and wings, a rear crossmember made from aluminium composite and plastic, as well as carbon ceramic brake discs. All in all, Alfa claims a power-to-weight ratio of under 3 kg per hp, which on the Quadrifoglio would mean a weight of under 1,530 kg.

Claimed to have a perfect 50/50 weight distribution, the Giulia features Alfa’s own double wishbone front suspension (with semi-virtual steering axis for better filtering effect and quicker, more accurate steering), as well as a multi-link rear suspension. So, fellow Alfisti, what do you guys think – is this the sort of return to form for Alfa Romeo that you were hoping for? Sound off in the comments section after the jump.