Mileage: 1,612
Economy: 31.0mpg

They say good things come to those who wait, and boy, have I waited for this Alfa Romeo Giulia. For those of you who have had better things to do than follow the trials and tribulations of the Giulias on the Auto Express fleet, let me take a moment to indulge you.

We ordered a Giulia Veloce in May 2017 with delivery penciled in for Christmas. By February of this year it was clear the car wasn’t arriving, with Alfa Romeo UK claiming the “factory forgot to build it”.

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In the meantime, we were given a smart-looking Super with a 197bhp 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine; well, it looked stylish until a bus ploughed into the back of it in March and left the scene of the accident. A new bumper and bootlid were needed, and after a fresh coat of paint the Giulia was back with us, easily maintaining its crown as the most stylish set of wheels in the company car park.

Fast-forward to a recent glorious, hot morning in Slough, Berks, and I’m finally meeting our Misano Blue Giulia Veloce. We’re at Thames Motor Group’s joint Alfa Romeo and Jeep dealership; it’s an imposing building with shiny black cladding, and is a confident statement for the two brands. Inside it’s just as impressive, and there’s an air of a showroom selling glamorous clothes rather than a dealership punting out Giuliettas on PCP deals.

Sales executive James Appleyard is the man holding the keys to our new Alfa. He tells me how the Veloce is proving a bit of a sales hit at Thames, with people chopping in BMW 3 Series to get one, while on the Jeep side of the showroom new customers are walking in through the door all the time.

With the mandatory coffee (Italian, of course) thrust into my hand, we chat about the new car. “You’ve gone for a stunning specification,” says James. He’s not wrong. I’m feeling distinctly smug about the newest member of the Auto Express fleet, knowing that the hours spent on the Alfa Romeo configurator have been worth it.

The Giulia is an attractive car to begin with, and the Veloce just adds an extra layer of desirability and glamour. “It’s a pretty car,” I reply in my best Italian accent and a shrug of the shoulders. My reference to the film The Italian Job is seemingly lost on James.

For those whose Italian is as bad as mine, ‘veloce’ means ‘fast’. As such, it sits one step below the 503bhp V6-engined Quadrifoglio, and is positioned as a model that’s easier to live with; think Mercedes-AMG C 43, Audi S5 and BMW 340i, and you won’t be too far off. But while six-cylinder engines power all those warm offerings, Alfa fits only a 2.0-litre four-cylinder with a comparatively modest 276bhp.

Along with chrome Veloce lettering on the front wings, the Giulia gets deeper front bumpers with larger air intakes, while at the back there’s a fatter bumper and two large chrome exhaust pipes either side of a cosmetic diffuser to set the sporty model apart.

Inside the Veloce, the only real change is a pair of heavily bolstered sports seats and metal-look trim instead of the wood used in our previous Super.

But diving into the options list has turned a £38,000 car into a £47,500 one. The first box to tick on the order sheet was the highly exclusive Misano Blue paint, at £695. I was keen to give our model a really sporting look, so the 19-inch diamond-cut alloys were a must, even if they were a steep £995. I was also keen on the Super’s yellow brake calipers – another £325 – and the electric sunroof at £1,250 was nice to have, especially with its contrasting black finish.

Handshakes and photos complete, it was time for me to drive out of Thames’s showroom, leaving my old faithful Giulia Super behind. That car gave me six very happy months of motoring, but I hope the new one will be even more delightful.

*Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.

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