Alfa Romeo Guilia Ti Sport

Ah, the forbidden fruit – we've finally got our hands on the Alfa Romeo Guilia Ti Sport AWD. I must admit, I tried my best to evaluate this car as objectively as I could, but it was hard not to be seduced by the Alfa because driving this car isn't just fun, it's therapy. 

As soon as you sit in the Giulia, one thing is immediately made clear – this is a driver's car. Big shift paddles reside behind a beautiful leather-wrapped steering wheel while large shrouded analog gauges sit on either side of a driver information system that, when set properly, will display a g-meter.

Then, there are the bolstered leather sport seats that hug you in such a way that you feel planted in the car, and the engine start/stop button? That's on the steering wheel, like another one of our favorite Italian steeds (Ferrari). 

All of this evokes a sense of occasion – or theatre, if you will – at least for gearheads, and makes every commute a welcomed chore. 

It's also partially the reason why I forgive this car for its shortcomings.

At $51,885, our test vehicle was a proper Alfa in that the infotainment selector dial was flimsy and made of offensively cheap plastic, as are the rest of the buttons, and the shifter was similarly less than satisfying to come in contact with. And, for some reason, (perhaps it's driver error?) every time you drove the car, you'd have to manually disengage the auto start/stop feature if you didn't want it on. 

At parking garage speeds, the interior squeaked and the car's sensitive brake pedal made the limousine-smooth stop a challenge. For those who haven't bought into the vehicle's design, this could be a deal-breaker, especially in this price range.

However, if you can look past all of these 'characteristics' and get the car out onto the open road (which we highly recommend you do), you'll never be the same. 

The Alfa's direct-injected, turbocharged 280-horsepower inline-four makes reaching 'highway speeds' a lesson in sports sedan glory. To complement, shifts from its 8-speed automatic transmission come quick and easy, and the balance, the control, the directness of the steering – it's staggering how good it is. 

Few cars in this segment can offer this level of athleticism without compromise, and not surprisingly, Alfa Romeo engineers have made it all very natural feeling.  

It's comfortable too. After about two hours of spirited driving on mountain back roads, the Alfa's great driving position, supportive seats, and sophisticated suspension proved it could be a worthy road-tripper.

As an added bonus, if you can keep your foot out of it, it'll get over 30 mpg on the highway to boot. 

In short, the Giulia is for those who value the way a car looks and how it drives. Let the naysayers point to Alfa's reliability, drone on about their 'futuristic' and overly complex German sports sedan, or point to papers. We say follow your heart and just lease one – it's covered by warranty anyway.