Alfa Romeo returns to the super-saloon class, but does the Giulia Quadrifoglio have enough about it to dislodge the Mercedes-AMG C63 and BMW M3 off their perches?

Few car makers inspire such unwavering loyalty and enthusiasm from those who purchase their products as Alfa Romeo – and fewer have been so guilty of taking such passion for granted in the recent past.

In the 25 years since the last rear-wheel-drive Alfa saloon, the 75, ceased production, we’ve seen Italy’s once world-leading automotive power under-invest and neglect the true sporting values of its brand – and watched as the company’s fortunes have declined.

Green cloverleaf motif features prominently, although Alfa has now dropped the ‘verde’ part from its old ‘quadrifoglio verde’ performance model nomenclature

Turin gave us a procession of relatively plain-handling front-wheel-drive cars, such as the 156, 147, 159 and Brera, while its German rivals began to fully capitalise on the dynamic advantages of a rear-wheel drive layout.

Now for the brave new dawn. As part of a huge investment plan running until the end of the decade, Alfa will renew its entire range, putting each new model in a market-leading position on power-to-weight ratio and driver appeal.

The all-new Giulia saloon is the first instalment in that new model army.

Based on Alfa’s new rear-drive ‘Giorgio’ architecture and coming to market with advanced drivetrain and suspension technologies and lightweight construction, the Giulia is a proper Alfa Romeo by anyone’s definition.

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Some would say you can’t put a price on such mechanical authenticity, but Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ (FCA) boss Sergio Marchionne certainly could, because the platform underpinning this car, and the revolution it has started, is the reason that Alfa made a loss last year, and will make another one this year. FCA’s total investment in Alfa will extend to €5 billion (£4.3bn) by 2020 – so you can imagine that the company bean-counters will be keen that this new car starts paying its owner back sooner rather than later.

But with those expensive new beginnings comes greater ambition, along with a statement of intent that a magazine like ours can’t ignore: the new Giulia Quadrifoglio.

Straight out of the box, with the Giulia’s Cassino production line still coming up to speed and the meat of the Giulia model range yet to be fleshed out, Alfa is going after BMW M, Mercedes-AMG and Audi Sport with a 503bhp super-saloon. Now to test the fruit of Turin’s returning mojo.

First drives