Life, after the age of 30, is basically administration. And one of the things that epitomises the lacklustre, relentlessly practical tedium of it all is that the most popular car among the middle-aged is the four-door hatchback: models such as the Volkswagen Golf, Vauxhall Astra and Renault Megane, which are about as thrilling as a cystoscopy, as original as drizzle and which occupy a sector of the market ('mid-size C segment') that sounds like a painful medical procedure.
In turn, nothing epitomises the decline of the once-proud sporting marque Alfa Romeo than its eagerness to cater for this market segment with the new Giulietta.
Alfa, of course, is trying to persuade us that it's as adventurous as ever through an advertising campaign starring Uma Thurman and a name that alludes to lustful designs from its glorious past. But the prospect of driving this car was about as exciting as spending three hours on hold to a Vodafone call centre.
However, I shouldn't have been so pessimistic. While not quite in the league of the Giulietta Spider from the sixties, the Giulietta has the most responsive ride and handling I can recall of any Alfa, the build quality is excellent, and it even does a good job of not looking like a four-door hatchback: the handles of the rear doors are concealed in the window frame, so people need never know that you haven't had sex with your wife for three years.
Meanwhile, the offset numberplate proclaims: 'I don't spend all my weekends at Ikea, you know,' and it's a fun car to drive. Going on performance, I would have guessed it was a two-litre number but it turned out to be just 1.4 litres, albeit with a turbocharger. I would have been less surprised to find myself off my face on ecstasy at a rave in Dalston.
The Giulietta is not perfect. I don't like its big headlamps, the pedals are slippery and the graphics on the satnav are decidedly Amstrad. I felt embarrassed saying the name: for all the history, for Alfa Romeo to call it 'Giulietta' is as naff as Ford calling a car the 'Harrison'. But, in-between ferrying 2.4 children about, organising boiler repairs and descaling your kettle, it will make you feel a little bit alive again. 4/5.
Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.4 MultiAir
Engine: 1,368 cc petrol, 4-cyl turbo
Power: 170 bhp
Torque: 170 lb ft @ 1,200 rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Fuel consumption: 48.7 mpg (combined cycle)
CO2 emissions: 134 g/km
0-62 mph: 7.8 seconds
Top speed: 135 mph