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What is it like on the inside?

You’ve heard it a million times: imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But when does imitation simply mean a lack of imagination? That’s a question you’re left pondering with the Giulia’s interior. There are familiar aesthetics to its German rivals, yet the execution is more, erm, Italian.

Taken by itself the Giulia’s interior is more than acceptable (and jolly nice to look at), but hop between this and an Audi A4 and you’ll feel the difference. The Alfa may be shot through with style, but it’s not as solid as the best German alternatives. Making things look the same is easy, emulating the tactility and haptic pleasures is much, much harder. This is where the first Giulias came really unstuck, and since then Alfa has listened to criticism and had another crack at the interior.

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The gearlever is now comfy in the hands, not sharp and tinny. There's an Italian flag motif to give a little patriotic flourish. The indicator stalks still feel like they came with a McDonalds unHappy Meal, but the general cabin architecture now looks and feels of a higher standard. BMW or Audi posh? No, but you'll also no longer feel pangs of envy when you clamber inside a Kia taxicab.

What’s the touchscreen like?

Much improved, thankfully. You get an 8.8in screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, and the interface has had an update which feels a lot more modern. It’s fractionally slow to respond to finger inputs but you’ll get more obedience out of the clickwheel. Just don’t expect it to stack up to BMW's iDrive system.

Could you live with it? Yep, especially now there's built-in smartphone support and even wireless device charging. There’s also now a 12.3in, fully digital driver display which replaces the analogue dials of old. It looks sharp, but quite why the speedo restricts what speeds you can see (40mph and up is invisible at 30mph, for example) is anyone’s guess. Maybe people won’t break the speed limit if higher numbers cease to exist?

Huh. All sounds pretty conventional otherwise…

The dash is a relatively simple shape, like the outside, with an elegant sweep for the top structure. The start button is on the steering wheel, and on the console is a big round version of Alfa’s ‘DNA’ driving mode switch. Alongside is the circular controller that runs the infotainment screen. That apart, the cabin isn’t pebble-dashed with switches. That’s because the Giulia does without the vast array of electronic support systems the German rivals are touting these days.

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The slim-rim steering wheel is genuinely lovely to hold and the paddles behind it are possibly the nicest, most tactile slivers of aluminium fitted to any production car. You can’t help but run your fingers up and down them.

Any Alpha-isms?

Yes, though you have to spend a bit of time in the car before you spot them. The one-touch indicators are too easy to push too far, meaning you have to indicate the other way to cancel them. And the seat belt clip-ins are mounted to the floor, not the seat itself, so if you like to sit high in the car, the buckles disappear down the side of the seat, making them hard to use.

Aside from these very minor foibles – the kind of things that only the Germans bother to spend time and millions of Euros eradicating – the Alfa’s cabin is handsome and user-friendly.

Is it practical?

The 480-litre boot is spacious enough, but rear legroom is modest at best and the confluence of A-pillar and wing mirror does damage visibility at junctions. Nor do you get the best view out of the rear-view mirror. Also, if you want to fold the seats down on the QF, forget it. That’s not an option.

Shoutout to the front seats, though: supportive when you’re slinging the Giulia along a B-road and comfortable when you’re not.

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